Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom turns 90 today, and her birthday is being celebrated in London and elsewhere.
She’s had a long and interesting life, both before and after ascending to the throne in 1952. Here are some things you might not have known about her:
- She is the longest-serving British monarch, having ruled for 64 years, two months and 14 days as of today. She surpassed her great, great grandmother Queen Victoria in September 2015. Victoria only reigned for 63 years and seven months.
- Despite having ruled for 64 years, she’s only the world’s second longest-serving current head of state, behind King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. The King of Thailand has been ill recently, often in and out of hospital for the last few years though. He took the throne in 1946.
- Her coronation in 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.
- She is a qualified military truck driver and mechanic. She learned these skills while serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II.
- She is the only surviving head of state to have served in uniform during World War II.
- She has been emailing since 1976, when she sent her first note from a British Army base on ARPANET. Her username: “HME2”.
- She has had more than 30 corgis during her reign, many of which are descendants of her first corgi, Susan, a present for her 18th birthday in 1944. She also breeds many other dogs, including Labradors, Cocker Spaniels and “Dorgis” – a cross between a dachshund and a corgi.
- 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.
- She technically owns all the whales, dolphins and sturgeon in the waters around the United Kingdom, according to a statute from 1324. She rarely claims the catch from fishermen though.
- She has a gold album, for “Party at the Palace,” a recording of a 2002 concert at Buckingham Palace. Fittingly, the concert was to celebrate her Golden Jubilee. 100,000 copies of the album were sold within the first week of its release.