Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning British monarch last year, and on Thursday April 21, she celebrated her 90th birthday. Born in 1926, the Queen has reigned for over 63 years and has always been at the center of the public eye. But there is still a lot about the British monarch that may surprise you.
She doesn’t have a passport
Despite being history’s most widely traveled head of state — she has visited 116 countries during her reign — Elizabeth does not hold a passport. Since all British passports are issued in the queen’s name, she herself doesn’t need one. She also doesn’t require a driver’s license, though she has been known to love driving around her estates in her Range Rover.
There have been 12 U.S. presidents and 7 popes during her reign
Harry Truman and Pope Pius XII were holding the positions when Elizabeth II took over in 1952.
She drove a truck during World War II
After months of begging her father to let her serve the country, Elizabeth—then an 18-year-old princess—joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II. Known as Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor, she trained in London as a mechanic and military truck driver. The queen remains the only female member of the royal family to have entered the armed forces and is the only living head of state who served in World War II.
She paid for her wedding dress with ration coupons
Princess Elizabeth married her third cousin Philip Mountbatten, ex-prince of Greece and Denmark, on November 20, 1947. Their wedding was held during postwar recovery years and had to be quite modest, at least compared to other royal weddings. With austerity measures still in effect, Elizabeth had to save up ration coupons to buy the material for her wedding dress, designed by Norman Hartnell and encrusted with 10,000 white pearls.
The queen has owned more than 30 Corgis during her reign
All the royal Corgis are pups of Susan, a Pembroke Corgi given to the Queen on her 18th birthday.
She sent her first e-mail in 1976 from a British Army base
The monarch sent the message while visiting the Ministry of Defence’s scientific research hub titled the Royal Signals and Research Establishment. The technology-savvy monarch also has a Twitter account, which she created last fall.
She’s met the most important astronauts of the day
The queen has hosted Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, and Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the first men on the moon, at Buckingham Palace.
This material was adapted from:
1. 8 Things You May Not Know About Queen Elizabeth II
2. 8 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Queen Elizabeth II To Celebrate Her 90th Birthday