After 60 years on the Commonwealth's throne, Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee marks a historic milestone in the iconic monarch's reign.
The second longest-serving ruler behind Queen Victoria, the Queen has kept the monarchy alive despite the fervent wishes of some critics to see it end.
This stoic, hat-clad granny has seen 12 prime ministers take office during her reign and watched the world move into the age of space travel, computers, Facebook and Twitter.
From her first royal speeches as a teenager to her children's divorce scandals, this 86-year-old monarch has seen it all during a long, interesting run. Here are some things you might not know about the Commonwealth's steadfast Queen.
1. The Queen is the fortieth monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England in 1066.
2. Even royalty can feel emotional when they walk their daughters down the aisle. That was the case when the Queen's father, Prince Albert, Duke of York (who became King George VI in 1936) walked his first child into Westminster Abby on November 20, 1947 to marry Prince Philip. In a letter following the wedding, King George VI wrote, "Your leaving us has left a great blank in our lives, but do remember that your old home is still yours and do come back to it as much and as often as possible…Your ever loving and devoted Papa."
3. The Queen was born by Caesarean section at 2:40 a.m. on April 21, 1926. But her birthday is officially celebrated in England in June. This royal tradition was established to coincide with the good spring weather. But the exact date varies in each Commonwealth country. The official celebrations usually take place between the end of May and the start of June.
4. The Queen was born at 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair at her maternal grandfather's house, which became her parent's home.
5. The Queen's childhood nickname was Lilibet, because she couldn't pronounce Elizabeth properly.
6. Despite her many official duties, Queen Elizabeth II has found the time to pose for 129 official portraits during her lifetime. The queen sat for her first portrait when she was seven years old.
7. The Queen has been emailing since 1976, when she sent her first note from a British Army base.
8. Only five other kings and queens in British history have reigned for 50 years or more. They include Queen Victoria (63 years); King George III (59 years); King Henry III (56 years); King Edward III (50 years); and James VI of Scotland, who became King James I of England (58 years).
9. Each morning, the Queen starts the day with a cup of tea. At 7:30 a.m. her "morning tray" is brought into her bedroom bearing a silver teapot, a water jug and milk, and a dish of biscuits for her dogs.
10. The Queen has owned up to tough times during her reign. She dubbed 1992 her "annus horribilis." In that year, the Prince of Wales separated from Princess Diana, Prince Andrew split from Sarah Ferguson and the Queen's daughter, Princess Anne, divorced Captain Mark Phillips.
11. In her youth, the Queen joined crowds in London to celebrate VE day on May 8, 1945. In her diary she wrote: "Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly, Pall Mall, walked simply miles. Saw parents on balcony at 12.30 am -- ate, partied, bed 3 am!"
12. Though it may seem like the Queen Elizabeth II has never set foot outside chauffeured Rolls Royces or horse-drawn carriages, she used London's subway in May of 1939 with the her governess and sister, Princess Margaret, by her side.
13. The Queen knows how to drive. She learned that skill in 1945 when she joined the Army. The Queen became a qualified military truck driver and mechanic while serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during the Second World War.
14. An avid reader, the Queen loves crime thrillers by P.D. James, Agatha Christie and Dick Francis.
15. Over her reign, Queen Elizabeth II has given regular audiences to 12 prime ministers. They include Winston Churchill (1951-55); Sir Anthony Eden (1955-57); Harold Macmillan (1957-63); Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1963-64); Harold Wilson (1964-70 and 1974-76); Edward Heath (1970-74); James Callaghan (1976-79); Margaret Thatcher (1979-90); John Major (1990-97); Tony Blair (1997-2007); Gordon Brown (2007-2010); and David Cameron (2010 – present).
16. Technically, the Queen still owns the sturgeons, whales and dolphins -- known as Fishes Royal -- in the waters around the United Kingdom because of a 1324 statute.
17. An avid horse lover, the Queen received her first pony from her grandfather, King George V, when she was four years old. This was a Shetland pony called Peggy.
18. One of her favourite riding horses, Burmese, was given to her by the RCMP. A statue of the Queen riding Burmese stands at the Legislative Building in Saskatchewan.
19. One of the few times the Queen has wept in public was while meeting relatives of the 144 victims of the 1966 Aberfan mine landslide disaster in Wales. The tears began to flow after she read a message from three-year-old Karen Jones which read: "From the remaining children of Aberfan..."
20. The Queen introduced a new breed of dog known as the "dorgi" when one of her corgis was mated with a dachshund named Pipkin, which belonged to Princess Margaret. There have been 11 dorgis: Tinker, Pickles, Chipper, Piper, Harris, Brandy, Berry, Cider, Candy and Vulcan.
21. The Queen's distinctive racing colours feature a purple jacket with gold braid, scarlet sleeves and a black velvet cap with gold fringe.
22. The Queen has a gold album, for "Party at the Palace," a recording of a 2002 concert at Buckingham Palace to celebrate her Golden Jubilee. One hundred thousand copies of the album were sold within the first week of its release.
23. Princess Elizabeth and her sister, Princess Margaret, were both educated at home under the supervision of their mother and governess, Marion Crawford. The girls affectionately called their governess "Crawfie."
24. In 2001, this monarch went behind the bar of the fictional Victorian public house, the Queen Vic, on a tour of the set of the British soap, "EastEnders."
25. The Queen carries good luck charms from her children in her bag, including miniature dogs and horses and family photos.
26. The Queen once demoted a footman in her household for feeding whiskey to her corgis.
27. As a young princess, this royal was a Girl Guide and Sea Ranger.
28. The Queen reportedly signals to her staff with her handbag. If she wants to leave a dinner in five minutes, she puts her bag on the table. If the Queen has grown tired of talking to someone, she lets her aides know by moving her purse from arm to arm.
29. Over the course of her reign, more than one million people have attended garden parties hosted by the Queen. In 2002, the Queen went all out for her Golden Jubilee marking 50 years in power by having a concert open to the public in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. She even attended a pop concert featuring rock stars Ozzy Osbourne, Paul McCartney, Elton John and Phil Collins.
30. The Queen performed her first official solo engagement at the age of 17 and was so nervous one of her mother's ladies-in-waiting gave her a barley sugar sweet to calm her nerves.
31. The Queen is said to have been a big fan of the 1970s' cop show "Kojak," which starred Telly Savalas.
32. The Queen's wedding ring was made from a nugget of Welsh gold which came from the Clogau St David's mine near Dolgellau. The official wedding cake was made by McVities and Price, using ingredients the Australian Girl Guides presented as a wedding gift.
33. The Queen is a keen photographer and enjoys taking pictures of her family. The Duke of York is also a keen photographer and has taken a number of pictures of The Queen, including an official photograph for Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee in 2002.
34. The Queen launched the British Monarchy's official website in 1997. In 2007 the official British Monarchy YouTube channel was unveiled, followed by a Royal Twitter site (2009), Flickr page (2010) and Facebook page (also 2010).
35. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have sent approximately 45,000 Christmas cards during her reign.
36. The Queen has met with several astronauts at Buckingham Palace. They include Russian Major Yuri Gagarin -- the first astronaut to go into space, Russian Valentina Tereshkova -- the first woman in space, and American Neil Armstrong -- the first man on the moon.
37. In 1991 a security guard denied the Queen entry to a private stand at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. He later said: "I thought she was some old dear who had got lost."
38. The wedding of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh was the first and so far the only time in British history that the heir presumptive to the throne was married.
39. When the Queen and Prince Philip were reunited in Portugal in 1957 after a four-month separation because of official duties, he wore a tie with hearts on it.
40. The Queen may not be the fashion plate to rival Princess Diana. But she has indulged in royal dressmakers over the years, including Sir Hardy Amies, Sir Norman Hartnell, Karl-Ludwig Couture and Maureen Rose.
41. Every year the Queen sends Christmas trees to Westminster Abbey; Wellington Barracks; St Paul's Cathedral; St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh; The Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh; Crathie Church; and local schools and churches in the Sandringham area.
42. Though she may not be a party animal, the Queen will host more than 50,000 people at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and garden parties at Buckingham Palace. The Queen also hosts more than 8,000 people each year at garden parties and investitures at Holyroodhouse, during Holyrood Week.
43. The Queen sent a message of congratulations to Apollo 11 astronauts for the first moon landing on the July 20, 1969. The message was micro-filmed and deposited on the moon in a metal container.
44. The Queen may not be as active on her royal walkabouts as she used to be. But back in 1958, she actually put on a mining outfit and went 500 feet (152.4 m) underground at Scotland's Rothes Colliery mine.
45. The Queen and Prince Philip joined the 93,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium to watch England win the 1966 World Cup Final.
46. When Prince Albert became King George VI after the abdication of Edward VIII on December 11, 1936, his six-year-old daughter Margaret said to her sister Elizabeth: "Does that mean you're going to be queen? Poor you."
47. The Queen has received some odd gifts during her reign, including a seven-year-old bull elephant called "Jumbo" given by the president of Cameroon in 1972 to mark the Queen's Silver Wedding, and two black beavers given to the Queen after a Royal visit to Canada.
48. There have been only three Diamond Jubilees of Heads of State celebrated throughout the world during the Queen's reign. King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand celebrated 60 years on the throne in 2006; the former Sultan of Johor (now a part of Malaysia) celebrated his in 1955; and the late Emperor Hirohito of Japan celebrated his in 1986.
49. The Queen attended her first football match in 1953. It was the FA Cup Final.
50. The Queen has launched 21 ships during her reign.
51. Over the years, this monarch as attended 35 Royal Variety Performances. These gala evenings have showcased singers, dancers, musicians and other artists over the years.
52. As a young girl, the Queen acted in a number of pantomimes during the Second World War including playing the part of Prince Florizel in "Cinderella" in 1941. These private performances took place every year in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle.
53. In November 2004, The Queen invited the cast of "Les Miserables" in the West End to perform for French President Jacques Chirac at Windsor Castle. It was the first time the cast of a West End musical had performed for a monarch at a Royal residence.
54. The Queen is said to bank with Coutts & Co. There is also a Coutts cash machine at Buckingham Palace.
55. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh made their first royal walkabout in 1970 during a trip to Australia and New Zealand. Since then, the walkabout has become a regular event during royal tours.
56. The Queen has attended every opening of Parliament except those in 1959 and 1963, when she was expecting Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.
57. The Queen's coronation on June 2, 1953 marked the first time television cameras were permitted to film a state occasion in Westminster Abbey. Sales of television sets in Britain shot up before the event.
58. The Queen fell in love with Prince Philip in 1939 when she was 13. The smitten teen began to exchange letters with the 18-year-old cadet at Dartmouth's Royal Navy College after she and her parents toured the school that year.
59. Prince Philip's pet names for his wife are said to include "cabbage" and "sausage".
60. The Queen spent 10 minutes talking to Buckingham Palace intruder Michael Fagan after he broke into her bedroom in 1982. He was later whisked off by security.
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