Happy birthday, Queen Elizabeth! Princes William and Harry’s grandmother turned 94 on Tuesday, April 21. While the monarch rang in her big day self-isolating at Windsor with husband Prince Philip amid the COVID-19 outbreak, we’re celebrating Her Majesty’s milestone birthday with some fun facts that you might not be aware of...
1. Queen Elizabeth has sent a message to the moon.
The longest-reigning monarch in British history was among 73 figureheads who sent a message to the moon on a tiny disc carried by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. The Queen’s note reportedly read (via The Guardian): “On behalf of the British people, I salute the skills and courage which have brought man to the moon. May this endeavour increase the knowledge and well-bring of mankind.”
2. Her Majesty celebrates her birthday twice a year.
Although her actual birthday is April 21, the sovereign marks her official birthday with Trooping the Colour in June. The celebration, which is attended by the royal family, involves a military parade, RAF fly-past, and 41-gun salute. The 2020 Trooping the Colour was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
3. The Queen does not require a passport.
While her royal relatives all have passports, the monarch does not need a British passport when traveling overseas. Since the passport is issued in the name of the Queen, the palace notes that it is “unnecessary” for her to have one.
4. She also doesn’t have, or need a driver’s license.
The Queen is often seen driving around her estates, but she doesn’t have a license. As part of her “royal prerogative,” the monarch is the only person in the UK who can drive without a license, according to HOLA! USA’s sister brand HELLO!.
5. She did not expect to become Queen.
Elizabeth has ruled longer than any other monarch in British history since becoming Queen in 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI. However, she was not born the heir apparent to the throne, like her son Prince Charles. Elizabeth’s life changed when her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated, making her father King and her the heir presumptive.
6. The Queen has owned more than 30 dogs.
It’s no secret that the monarch loves canines, and she has owned more than 30 in her lifetime. For her 18th birthday, then-Princess Elizabeth was given a Corgi named Susan, who reportedly accompanied the Queen and Prince Philip on their honeymoon. A number of dogs were bred from Susan. Meanwhile, some Corgis were mated with dachsunds to create Dorgis. Her corgis Willow, Monty and Holly famously appeared in the 2012 London Olympics James Bond sketch with actor Daniel Craig.
7. She has a gold disc from the recording industry.
The Queen was the first member of the royal family to be awarded a gold disc after selling 100,000 copies of the CD Party at the Palace.
8. Queen Elizabeth used coupons to pay for her wedding dress.
Because of rationing measures put in place following WWII, Princess Elizabeth had to use clothing ration coupons to pay for her 1947 wedding dress that was designed by Sir Norman Hartnell.
9. The Queen is up to date on technology.
In 1976, she became the first monarch to send an email from the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) in Malvern. Her Majesty also shared her first tweet in 2014 while opening the Information Age exhibit at London’s Science Museum tweeting: “It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R.” Five years later in 2019, the Queen posted on Instagram for the very first time sharing an archive photograph of a letter written to her great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert, from Charles Babbage.