12 Secrets About Queen Elizabeth Only Royal Insiders Know

Welcome to The Crown IRL.

queen elizabeth in auxiliary territorial service uniform when young

As Britain's longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II is a worldwide symbol of nobility, grace, and duty. Despite having lived her life in front of the camera for decades, Her Majesty is an intensely private woman who believes in maintaining the mystery of the monarchy and has kept her personal preferences and private life largely under wraps. Perhaps that's why these 12 little-known facts about the devoted wife, doting grandmother, and independent woman are so delightfully charming.

She married her cousin.

queen Elizabeth and prince Phillip british royals movies

The Queen and Prince Philip have the same great-great-grandparents: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who were first cousins themselves. This makes them third cousins. And for a deeper look at royal romance, don't miss these 30 Fascinating Facts About British Royal Weddings.

She was only 13 when she fell for Prince Philip.

young photo of queen elizabeth II
Wikimedia Commons/Ian Pretorius Collection

Princess Elizabeth was just a teenager when she met the dashing 18-year-old Philip Mountbatten, who was then a cadet in the British navy. The two corresponded for several years while he was away at sea. By the time Elizabeth was 17, she knew he was the man she wanted to marry. In 1946, the press spotted Philip helping the princess on with her coat at a wedding and noticed the connection between them. The couple was secretly engaged at the time, but the Palace waited three years, until Elizabeth was 21, to make the official announcement.

Her marriage to Prince Philip set a record.

elizabeth II and prince philip coronation portrait
Wikimedia Commons/Cecil Beaton

Despite the occasional rumors that the prince enjoyed the company of other women, Elizabeth and Philip's royal love story has stood the test of the time. They've been married for a head-spinning 71 years! In 2007, Her Majesty became the first British monarch to celebrate her diamond wedding anniversary when they reached the milestone of 60 years of marriage.

Philip nicknamed her after a vegetable.

cabbage, best brain foods

The Queen is affectionately known as "cabbage" by her husband. No one knows why.

She's a Downton Abbey mega-fan.

signs you were born in the wrong decade
IMDB/Carnival Film & Television

The Queen never missed an episode of the beloved British period drama and is said to have enjoyed pointing out the series' rare historical errors to anyone who watched it with her. (There's never been any official word on whether or not she watches Netflix's The Crown.)

She eats a surprisingly un-royal breakfast.

cornflakes in a bowl

Despite having a royal chef and a kitchen staff who could whip up whatever her heart desires, the Queen's favorite breakfast is Kellogg's Corn Flakes, which she keeps in a Tupperware container on the breakfast table during her meal. She also sips Twinings Earl Grey tea with milk (but no sugar).

She has a drink before lunch every day.

Gin and Tonic, cocktails

Her Majesty is said to enjoy a daily cocktail of gin and Dubonnet ahead of her midday meal.

Over her father's objections, she worked as a mechanic during World War II.

queen elizabeth in auxiliary territorial service uniform when young
Wikimedia Commons/Ministry of Information

King George VI did not want his daughter to enlist, but he eventually relented and she joined the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945. Princess Elizabeth toiled as a mechanic and truck driver during the war. She is only female member of the royal family to have entered the military. Thanks to the skills she learned during the war, she's been known to tinker with the Range Rovers at Balmoral on occasion when there's trouble under the hood.

She's decided no more corgis.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi running in the road, top dog breeds

The Queen has owned more than 30 Pembroke Welsh corgis during her lifetime, all of which were descendants of her first corgi, Susan. The last one, Willow, died in 2018. While there are still a few dorgis (a mixed breed of dachshund and corgi) in the royal household, the Queen reportedly told her staff she would not bring another corgi to Buckingham Palace because of her advanced age.

She Skypes with her great-grandchildren.

skype company name origins

By all accounts, the Queen is a devoted great-grandmother who is extremely close to her growing brood of great grandchildren. "Gan-Gan" (as Prince George calls her) uses the webcam service to stay close to the children when she's away and always brings back little souvenirs from her travels. Kate Middleton has said the Queen likes to leave little presents in George and Princess Charlotte's (and now, we assume, Prince Louis') rooms when she comes for a visit.

She is the only person in the United Kingdom allowed to drive without a license.

queen elizabeth II in a pink suit

Her Majesty has never taken a driver's test and her cars have no license plates, but the Queen has always loved to get behind the wheel. She doesn't have a license for one simple reason: she doesn't need one—all licenses are issued in her name in the United Kingdom. The Sunday Times recently reported that the 92-year-old monarch was "reluctant" to give up driving on public roads, but did so at the request of her security team.

She attended her first fashion show last year.

queen elizabeth II arriving in a car

Despite her lifetime love of fashion, the Queen only just made her first front row appearance in 2018 during London's Fashion Week at up-and-coming designer Richard Quinn's runway show. She was seated next to fashion maven and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Her Majesty's chair was easy to spot—it was the only one with a special velvet cushion.

Diane Clehane is a New York-based journalist and author of Imagining Diana and Diana: The Secrets of Her Style.

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