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Queen Elizabeth II: The sweetest, funniest moments from her reign

Click to play video: 'Queen Elizabeth II dies at the age of 96'
Queen Elizabeth II dies at the age of 96
Breaking News: Queen Elizabeth, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, has died at the age of 96. The Royal Family announced her death on social media Thursday morning. – Sep 8, 2022

The British are known for keeping a “stiff upper lip,” and Queen Elizabeth II was no exception. But those who were close to the queen knew that she had a great sense of humour underneath her serene and stoic public image.

Throughout her long life, there have been many times when she let down her guard, so to speak, whether that be delighting at animals or cracking jokes with world leaders.

In honour of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and Canada’s longest-serving head of state, we remember some of the sweetest and funniest moments in the extraordinary life of Queen Elizabeth II.

Read more: Queen Elizabeth II, longest-reigning monarch in British history, dead at 96

A corgi lover for life

The Royal Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret (1930-2002) at the windows of the Royal Welsh House with two Corgi dogs, June 1936. Lisa Sheridan/Studio Lisa/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Ever since she was a young girl, Elizabeth has been captivated by corgis — a love that lasted her entire life.

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When she was just a princess, Elizabeth fell in love with the Royal Family’s first corgi, Dookie, who was adopted in 1933.

The first corgi she ever owned herself was named Susan, and was gifted to her by her father in 1944 for her 18th birthday. Susan would be the beginning of a large family tree of corgis, over 30 in total, bred by the queen.

Queen Elizabeth ll arrives at Aberdeen Airport with her corgis to start her holidays in Balmoral, Scotland in 1974. Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

The queen also bred corgis with dachshunds to create dorgis. This adorable mix-breed was perhaps the result of an unplanned tryst between one of Elizabeth’s corgis and Princess Margaret’s dachshund. The sisters mated the dogs again and more than 10 dorgis were bred over the years.

In 2015, it was reported that the queen was planning to end her corgi breeding efforts because she didn’t want to leave any behind after her death.

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Queen Elizabeth II walking her dogs at Windsor Castle, on April 2, 1994, in Windsor, U.K. Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images

When the queen died, she had four dogs left: two corgis, a dorgi, and a cocker-spaniel. Ownership of the dogs will likely pass to her successor King Charles III.

Banter with Bush

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II offers a toast to U.S. President George W. Bush and those gathered in the State Dining Room during a formal white-tie state dinner at the White House May 7, 2007, in Washington, D.C. Martin H. Simon-Pool/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth wasn’t about to let then-President George W. Bush off the hook when he hilariously misspoke during a toast at the White House.

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In 2007, at a welcome ceremony for the queen, Bush mistakenly said that Elizabeth had celebrated the U.S. bicentennial in 1776, when he should have said 1976. The mix-up meant Bush had added 200 years to Queen Elizabeth’s age.

Read more: Queen Elizabeth II has died. Here’s what’s next for King Charles III

Bush said of the incident, “She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child.”

Two days later, the queen saw her chance to get the former president back. At a dinner hosted by the British ambassador, Elizabeth joked, “I wondered whether I should start this toast by saying, ‘When I was here in 1776 …'”

“Your Majesty, I can’t top that one,” Bush responded in his toast.

The iconic cow video

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This hilarious video when viral in 2018, showing the queen’s excited reaction to seeing a herd of cows being paraded as part of her 90th birthday celebration. She points to the animals and blurts out “cows” to her husband Prince Philip.

Queen Elizabeth was quite the fan of cows, as she was with all animals, and bred the livestock herself. She kept the largest herd of Sussex cows in the world at Windsor castle.

Teasing Trudeau

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau shake hands with Queen Elizabeth II during a private audience at Buckingham Palace on November 25, 2015, in London, England. It was Trudeau’s first visit to Britain as Canada’s prime minister. Yui Mok/Getty Images

The first time that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Queen Elizabeth, she may have been taken aback by his boyish looks. It also didn’t help that Trudeau mentioned in a toast to her at the gala for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2015 that he was the 12th Canadian prime minister to hold office during her reign.

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In response, Queen Elizabeth said during a speech, “Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister of Canada, for making me feel so old.”

All the queen’s horses

The only thing that could rival the queen’s love of corgis was perhaps her love of horses.

Elizabeth first started riding at the tender age of three when she started lessons at Buckingham Palace Mews.

She was gifted her first pony a year later, a Shetland named Peggy, by her father King George VI.

Queen Elizabeth II rides Balmoral Fern, a 14-year-old Fell Pony, in Windsor Home Park over the weekend of May 30 and May 31, 2020, in Windsor, England. The Queen has been in residence at Windsor Castle during the coronavirus pandemic. Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images

For her entire life, Elizabeth was an avid equestrian and horse breeder and loved cheering on her horses at the racetrack.

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In fact, one of her favourite horses was reportedly a thoroughbred named Burmese, which was gifted to the queen by the RCMP.

Read more: Charles to give 1st speech as king as U.K. mourns Queen Elizabeth’s death

At the time of her death, the queen was estimated to have over 100 horses in her royal stables. Those horses had earned her around $10.5 million in prize money over the years.

Claudia Joseph, an expert on the royals, predicts that Princess Anne and her daughter Zara, who were both Olympic equestrians, will be involved in making decisions about what happens next to the queen’s troop of horses.

Cracking up Prince Harry

Queen Elizabeth II as proud grandmother smiles at Prince Harry as she inspects soldiers at their passing-out Sovereign’s Parade at Sandhurst Military Academy on April 12, 2006, in Surrey, England. Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

At a military parade in 2006, the queen showed her cheeky side by making her grandson crack up at an inopportune moment.

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Elizabeth was attending the Sovereign’s Parade at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to see Prince Harry’s “passing-out ceremony,” where he was officially commissioned as an army officer.

As Elizabeth walked down the line of newly minted officers, the soldiers were meant to keep a neutral expression. Perhaps the matriarch said something or flashed a look to her grandson because Prince Harry couldn’t help but bust out a grin as she passed.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (L) smiles with her grandson Prince Harry (4th R) during the Sovereign’s Parade at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, southern England, April 12, 2006. Dylan Martinez/AFP via Getty Images

Prince Harry served in the British Army for 10 years and served two tours in Afghanistan.

Meeting Donna the Elephant

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh feed bananas to Donna, a 7-year-old Asian Elephant, as they open the new Centre for Elephant Care at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo on April 11, 2017, in Dunstable, England. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

This adorable photo, taken at a U.K. zoo in 2017, shows Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip meeting Donna the elephant (and feeding her a couple of bananas while they were at it).

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The moment was captured by royal photographer Chris Jackson and he said that just out of frame were a few zookeepers who were slightly concerned that the huge elephant would lurch forward, eager for its next banana from the queen.

Donna, thankfully, kept her composure.

In the driver’s seat

Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) drives an ambulance during her wartime service in the A.T.S. (Auxiliary Territorial Service), April 10, 1945. Bryn Colton/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth could have been chauffeured around her entire life but she chose a life in the driver’s seat.

At just 19, Elizabeth volunteered to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II, becoming the first female member of the royal family to serve full-time in the armed forces.

She trained to become a mechanic and ambulance driver, earning her the nickname “Princess Auto Mechanic” from the British press at the time. She was often photographed and filmed servicing vehicles and driving trucks.

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Queen Elizabeth II drives her Range Rover car as she attends day two of the Royal Windsor Horse Show in Home Park, Windsor Castle, on July 2, 2021, in Windsor, England. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

After becoming queen, Elizabeth could have taken the back seat but she chose to keep driving her entire life.

She was frequently spotted chauffeuring family between Windsor and the Ascot Racecourse for the annual racing event. Elizabeth last drove herself to the Royal Ascot in 2021 where she was photographed behind the wheel of a Jaguar X-Type wagon.

Elizabeth’s fleet of vehicles is primarily made up of cars from British manufacturers like Jaguar Land Rover, Daimler, and Vauxhall.

Cake cutting fiasco

Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Princess Anne, Princess Royal, look on as Queen Elizabeth II cuts a Women’s Institute Celebrating 100 Years cake at the Centenary Annual Meeting of The National Federation of Women’s Institute at Royal Albert Hall at the Royal Albert Hall on June 4, 2015, in London, England. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

This was another sweet moment caught on camera by Jackson, the royal photographer. This photo shows the time when the queen burst out laughing with her daughter Princess Anne when she got her knife stuck in a cake while trying to cut a ceremonial first slice.

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The moment took place at the 100-year anniversary of the Women’s Institute in London in 2015.

Princess Anne was reportedly the one to dislodge the silver knife from the cake in the end, which you can still see sticking out of the cake in the photo above.

Dropping the mic

Her Majesty certainly knew how to dish out some trash talk, while staying polite as ever.

In a promotional video for the 2016 Invictus Games, Queen Elizabeth dropped the mic on then-President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

The video begins with Prince Harry receiving a feisty video message from the Obamas. Michelle asks, “Hey, Prince Harry, remember when you told us to bring it at the Invictus Games?”

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“Careful what you wish for,” Barack replies as a soldier in the background mimes dropping a mic.

Prince Harry showed the video message to Queen Elizabeth who responded with, “Oh, really, please.”

Enough said.

Harry then drops a mic for his grandmother’s cool, restrained response.

Read more: Queen Elizabeth II death: How it affects Canada’s currency, stamps, street names

G7 antics

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Queen Elizabeth II, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, President of the European Council Charles Michel and United States President Joe Biden pose for a group photo at a drinks reception for Queen Elizabeth II and G7 leaders at The Eden Project during the G7 Summit on June 11, 2021, in St Austell, Cornwall, England. Jack Hill/Getty Images

Even after the death of her lifelong partner, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth still found moments of levity in her life and never lost her sense of humour.

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During a photo-op last year at the 2021 G7 Summit hosted in Cornwall, the queen made some of the most powerful leaders in the world crack up when she asked, “Are you supposed to be looking as if you’re enjoying yourself?”

All those who loved her will sorely miss Queen Elizabeth II. She was a devoted public servant with a robust sense of duty — but as we’ve seen, that didn’t stop her from having a bit of fun every now and then.

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