The Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II, died today at 96, and as the longest-serving monarch in British history.
Aside her ruling England for over 70 years, here are some fifteen things you probably don’t know about her.
1. Elizabeth was born on 21 April 1926, during the reign of her paternal grandfather, King George V. Her father, the Duke of York (later King George VI), was the second son of the King.
2. She didn’t go to school like a regular kid: Heirs apparent don’t just show up to primary school like normal kids. Instead, Elizabeth was tutored at home during sessions by different teachers like Henry Marten, vice-provost of Eton College (which is still for boys only), and was also given private religion lessons by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
3. She served in World War II: Elizabeth who was trained as a truck driver and mechanic in 1945, when she was 18 years old was the only female Royal Family member to have entered the armed forces, and until her death, was the only living head of state who officially served in World War II.
4. She married her cousin: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Queen Elizabeth were third cousins; both share the same great-great-grandparents: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
5. She chose her own surname: Technically, the Queen’s last name was “Windsor,” which was first chosen by George V in 1917 after the Royal Family wanted to distance themselves from “Saxe-Coburg-Gotha”—the dynasty to which they belonged—for sounding too Germanic during World War I. But as a way to distinguish themselves from the rest of the Royal Family, in 1960 Elizabeth and Philip adopted the official surname Windsor-Mountbatten.
Like most British monarchs, Elizabeth got to celebrate her birthday twice, and the reason why boils down to seasonably appropriate pomp and circumstance.
6. She had two birthdays: As stated earlier, she was born on April 21, 1926, but April was deemed too cold and liable to fall during inclement weather. So instead, her official state-recognized birthday occurred on a Saturday in late May, or more typically June, so that the celebration could be held during warmer months. The specific date varied year to year in the UK and usually coincided with Trooping the Colour, Britain’s annual military pageant.
7. She was enthroned in 1952: Elizabeth ascended to the throne at just 25 years of age when her father, George VI, died on February 6, 1952. Elizabeth was in Kenya at the time of his death and returned home as her country’s Queen.
8. She didn’t need a passport to travel: Elizabeth II was the world’s most well-traveled head of state, visiting more than 115 countries between hundreds of official state visits, but she didn’t even own a passport. Since all British passports are officially issued in the Queen’s name, she technically did not need one.
9. She was a Queen for over 50 nations: Queen Elizabeth II since 1952 served as reigning monarch of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and numerous other realms and territories, as well as head of the Commonwealth, the group of 53 sovereign nations that includes many former British territories.
10. She was served by 15 UK prime ministers: Since becoming the Queen of England in 1952, she was served by 15 United Kingdom Prime Minister. The last of them is Liz Truss, who won the Conservative party leadership election on Monday, September 5, 2022.