Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee will be celebrated from Thursday 2 June to Sunday 5 June 2022, marking a 70-year rule for England’s longest-reigning monarch.
As you will already know, Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne unexpectedly. After her father, King George VI, passed away suddenly from a coronary thrombosis on 6 February 1952, Elizabeth automatically assumed the role as head of state at just 25 years old.
As Brits, we all know that the Queen has reigned through her fair share of trials and tribulations. But there are fun, little-known facts about Elizabeth II that act as a testament to her intriguing personality and stoic attitude.
Read on to find out five things you may never have known about Queen Elizabeth II.
1. The Queen has never given an interview in her entire reign
The Queen is a ubiquitous figure in British culture, her face appearing on everything from mugs to money – so it may surprise you to learn that she has never given an interview during her reign.
Although there have been many famous royal interviews over the years, these rarely seem to have provided positive publicity to the family. Princess Diana’s infamous chat with Martin Bashir and Prince Harry’s latest televised conversation with Oprah seem only to have stirred controversy – so it’s no surprise the Queen has declined to be interviewed.
After staying tight-lipped for 70 years, it is unlikely we will ever sit down to watch or read an interview with the Queen. However, there are several royal biographies where we can learn about her life in detail.
2. Elizabeth II worked as a mechanic during the second world war
Although the Queen is best known for her pristine public appearances in brightly coloured garments and jewellery worth millions, she is not afraid to get her hands dirty.
Indeed, Queen Elizabeth II rolled up her sleeves during the second world war and, in 1945, worked as a mechanic as part of her service to the country. She underwent a six-week training programme in Aldershot, Surrey, before joining the Women’s Auxiliary Territory Service under the name Elizabeth Windsor. During her service as a mechanic, Elizabeth changed tyres, repaired Jeeps and rebuilt car engines.
Although in the modern day this act is looked upon with admiration, Elizabeth fought with her family over the decision at the time. Reports claim the royal family did not approve of her desire to train as a mechanic, but she persisted and eventually got her way.
3. She was asleep in a treehouse when she became Queen
If you have watched Netflix’s The Crown or you closely follow the royal family, you will know that Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, died while she was on a royal visit to Kenya. But you may not know that, at the time of her father’s death, the Queen was actually asleep in the branches of a tall tree.
Indeed, Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed at Treetops, a hotel that consists of treehouse structures built specifically for the observation of wildlife, during their Kenyan visit. While they slept surrounded by elephant, leopard and baboon, she unknowingly became Queen when her father passed away during the night.
As she is famous for her outdoor adventures – riding horses, driving cars and hunting – it may not be surprising to learn that Elizabeth’s first moments as Queen saw her high in a tree surrounded by ferocious nature.
4. The Queen and her sister, Princess Margaret, once partied incognito in London
When the second world war ended on 8 May 1945, London’s streets were lined with people, all ecstatic at the closing of a terrible chapter in British history.
Two people who were also thrilled at this news were the Queen – then Princess Elizabeth – and her sister, Princess Margaret. They wished to celebrate alongside the rest of London’s citizens, so they decided to go out and party incognito on the streets of the capital.
Quoted in an Instagram post by the royal family, the Queen says, “I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief.”
5. The Queen has survived multiple assassination attempts
As you may expect, Elizabeth II has been the victim of many attempted assassinations. Unfortunately, as head of state, she is the ultimate target for acts of terrorism.
One thing you may not know, though, is that the Queen once narrowly escaped assassination while riding a horse.
During the 1981 Trooping of the Colour, a ceremony performed by the armed forces on the official birthday of the British sovereign, the Queen was shot at from close range while on horseback. It is reported by the BBC that Elizabeth appeared shaken, but quickly regained her composure.
In another incident, a man broke into the Queen’s bedroom in 1982, carrying a piece of a glass ashtray he had broken in the next room. It is said that the Queen calmly spoke to the man for several minutes while authorities made their way to the scene and emerged unscathed.
For many, the Queen has acted as a fearless force throughout the trying times Britain has experienced in the last 70 years, instilling pride in many citizens as she continues to reign in her old age.