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Platinum Jubilee: Why does the Queen own every dolphin in British waters? Everything you didn’t know about the longest serving monarch

The Queen owns all the dolphins and whales in British waters, has survived an assassination attempt, and is known as “Mama belong big family” in Papua New Guinea.

Here are 70 facts about Queen Elizabeth II – one for each year of her 70 years on the throne.

1. The Queen has two birthdays, one in April and another in June, as sovereign birthdays are celebrated twice if theirs does not fall in summer.

2. She has nine royal thrones – six at Buckingham Palace, two at Westminster Abbey and one at the House of Lords.

3. Her Majesty speaks fluent French, learned from her French and Belgian governesses.

4. She sent her first email in 1976 from an Army base.

5. The Sunday Times Rich List 2022 put her net worth at £370m – a £5m increase on 2021.

6. She dedicated one acre of land in Runnymede, Surrey, to US President John F Kennedy following his assassination in 1965.

7. In October 2021 the Queen turned down Oldie magazine’s Oldie of the Year award, with her assistant private secretary telling host Gyles Brandreth: “Her Majesty believes you are as old as you feel.”

8. In Papua New Guinea, where she is the constitutional monarch, she is known in the pidgin language of Tok Pisin as “Missis Kwin”, and “Mama belong big family”.

9. The Queen also has the titles of the Lord of Man in the Isle of Man, the Duke of Normandy in the Channel Islands, and the Duke of Lancaster in the land of the Duchy of Lancaster.

10. She owns all the dolphins and whales in British waters. This dates back to a statute from 1324, which is still valid today and means the creatures have the title ‘fishes royal’.

11. In 1981, she was shot at by a 17-year-old with a replica gun as she rode past crowds on horseback near Buckingham Palace. He was sentenced to five years in prison, serving three.

12. Months later in Dunedin, New Zealand, another 17-year-old aimed a rifle at the Queen from a fifth-floor building overlooking a parade – but missed. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

13. Among the unusual gifts she has received over the years are jaguars and sloths from Brazil and two black beavers from Canada. She has also been gifted pineapples, eggs and prawns.

14. Animals gifted to the Queen are often placed in the care of London Zoo.

15. She sent her first tweet in 2014 announcing her opening of a new exhibition at the Science Museum in London, signing it Elizabeth R.

16. Tony Blair was the first prime minister to have been born during the Queen’s reign. He was born in 1953.

17. The Queen successfully sued The Sun in 1993 after they published her Christmas message two days before it was broadcast. The newspaper issued a front page apology and paid £200,000 in damages, which was donated to Save the Children.

18. She has a cushion in her private sitting room at Balmoral embroidered with the words “It’s good to be Queen”.

19. At state banquets she dislikes serving raw food or messy dishes such as spaghetti that risk embarrassing the eater.

20. The Queen paid income tax for the first time in 1993 following a set of financial reforms of the royal estate under John Major’s premiership.

21. The first football match she attended was the 1953 FA Cup Final, in which a Stanley Matthews-inspired Blackpool beat Bolton Wanderers 4-3.

22. She sent a message of congratulations to Apollo 11 astronauts for the first Moon landing on 21 July 1969. The message was micro-filmed and deposited on the Moon in a metal container.

23. The reason she usually wears a single-colour outfit and decorative hat is to make sure she can be seen in a crowd.

24. Before this year, the Queen had attended every opening of parliament except those in 1959 and 1963 when she was pregnant with Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

25. The oldest person she has written a letter to was a 116-year-old Canadian man in 1984.

26. She became Britain’s longest-reigning monarch on 9 September 2015, breaking the record previously set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.

27. The Queen was the first British monarch to visit China – in 1986.

28. She also made a historic visit to the Republic of Ireland in May 2011 – the first visit by a British monarch since Irish independence.

29. In her 2014 Christmas message she referenced her visit to the Game Of Thrones set in Belfast – but said Crumlin Road Gaol “remained vividly in my mind”.

30. She has a keen interest in Scottish country dancing and hosts annual ‘Gillies’ Balls’ for neighbours, estate workers and members of the local community when she stays at Balmoral.

31. Her Majesty has a well-known love of corgis, with her first, Susan, given to her as an 18th birthday present, later accompanying her on honeymoon.

32. She created her own breed of dog – a “dorgi” – when one of her corgis mated with a dachshund named Pipkin that belonged to Princess Margaret.

33. The Queen loves horses. Her thoroughbreds have won four out of the five flat racing classics – the 1,000 Guineas, 2,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St Leger. The only one she hasn’t succeeded in is the Derby.

34. She made sporting history when she became the first reigning monarch to win Royal Ascot’s Gold Cup with her thoroughbred Estimate in 2013.

35. The Queen is also a keen pigeon fancier. In 1990, one of her birds took part in the Pau race, coming first in the Section 5th Open and was subsequently named Sandringham Lightning.

36. She has her own currency, silver coins known as Maundy money, which she donates to the elderly on Maundy Thursday, between March and April each year.

37. But she only carries money in her purse on a Sunday to donate it at church.

38. The Queen played herself in a skit for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games alongside Daniel Craig’s James Bond (although she did not parachute herself into the Olympic stadium – as was shown).

39. In April 2013 she was given an honorary BAFTA for her patronage of the film industry and was dubbed the “most memorable Bond girl yet” after her Olympics appearance the previous year.

40. She sat for the first, and only, hologram portrait in 2003.

41. The Queen hosted the first-ever all-female function at Buckingham Palace in 2004. The Women of Achievement lunch was attended by JK Rowling, Twiggy and Kate Moss, among others.

42. She became the first Canadian monarch to open parliament there in 1957 – the country’s 23rd.

43. A riot broke out when she visited Quebec in 1964 amid the region’s separatist movement. No member of the Royal Family returned there for 50 years, until Prince William’s visit in 2011.

44. For her 80th birthday in 2006 she invited 2,000 children to celebrate with her at Buckingham Palace.

45. Two days beforehand she hosted a party for other elderly people turning 80 across the country.

46. For her Golden Jubilee in June 2002 she hosted the first ever public concert in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. The Party at the Palace was one of the most watched TV broadcasts in history with 200 million viewers worldwide.

47. It saw her become the first royal to be awarded a gold disc, with 100,000 copies of the CD for Party at the Palace sold within a week of release.

48. Her bedroom at Buckingham Palace was broken into before she awoke on 9 July 1982. The charges against the intruder, Michael Fagan, were dropped following a psychiatric report.

49. She became the first British monarch to address a joint meeting of the United States Congress in 1991, following the coalition victory in the Gulf War.

50. With the birth of Prince Andrew in 1960, the Queen became the first reigning sovereign to have a child since Queen Victoria.

51. The Queen gave up driving on public roads in March 2019, although she has never needed a licence as they are issued in her name.

52. She is affectionately known as ‘gan-gan’ by Prince George, according to the Duchess of Cambridge. The term has been used to describe great-grandmothers in the Royal Family for generations.

53. She underwent keyhole surgery on both her knees in 2003.

54. The Queen was the first monarch to attend a Cabinet meeting in more than 100 years when she joined David Cameron for one in December 2012 to mark the end of her Diamond Jubilee year.

55. She made history in 1982 when Pope John Paul II became the first to be received by a British monarch in 450 years.

56. Elizabeth II is the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England in 1066.

57. She is the only monarch to have celebrated a diamond or platinum wedding anniversary.

58. At least eight actresses have played her in films and TV series, the most recent being Olivia Colman in The Crown.

59. In 1993 she opened Buckingham Palace to tourists for the summer as part of a drive to modernise her image.

60. The only time she has been interrupted on an overseas tour was in 1974 in Australia when Edward Heath called a snap general election.

61. Elizabeth II was the sixth female to ascend the British throne.

62. The Queen donates to almost 40 animal and 90 medical and healthcare organisations.

63. She has broadcast a Christmas message to the country and Commonwealth every year of her reign except 1969, when a documentary called Royal Family was aired instead.

64. The Queen has used the Royal Yacht Britannia for many of her tours, which has travelled more than a million miles for her official duties.

65. She did her first royal walkabout with the Duke of Edinburgh on a tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1970 – introduced to allow them to meet more people and not just officials.

66. The Queen launched the British monarchy’s official website in 1997.

67. In 2007 the official Royal Family YouTube channel was unveiled, swiftly followed by a royal Twitter site (2009), Flickr page (2010) and Facebook page (also 2010).

68. The Queen took part in her first Zoom call in June 2020. With coronavirus restrictions still in place, she spoke virtually to carers with Princess Anne to mark Carers Week.

69. In 1953 she broadcast her Christmas message abroad for the first time, from New Zealand.

70. She has not travelled abroad since trips to Germany and Malta in 2015.



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