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As the Queen celebrates 60 years since ascending the throne, here are 60 facts released by Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, one for each year of her rule.
1. The Queen is the second longest serving monarch after Queen Victoria who reigned for 63 years. Only six kings and queens in British history have reigned for 50 years or more
2. The Queen is the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England.
3. Since 1952 the Queen has given royal assent to more than 3,500 Acts of Parliament.
4. Over her reign the monarch has given regular audiences to 12 prime ministers:
5. Tony Blair was the first prime minister born during the Queen's reign. He was born in May 1953 - the month before the coronation.
6. The Queen has attended every opening of Parliament except those in 1959 and 1963, when she was expecting the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex respectively.
7. There have been six archbishops of Canterbury during the Queen's reign
8. There have been six popes during the Queens reign.
9. The Queen has received two Popes on visits to the UK, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
10. The monarch is patron of more than 600 charities and organisations, more than 400 of which she has held since 1952.
11. Since 1952, the Queen has conferred more than 404,500 honours and awards.
12. The sovereign has personally held more than 610 investitures.
13. The first investiture of the Queen's reign took place at Buckingham Palace on February 27, 1952. The first person to be presented was Private William Speakman who received the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Korean War.
14. The monarch has answered around three and a half million items of correspondence.
15. The sovereign has sent more than 175,000 telegrams to centenarians in the UK and the Commonwealth.
16. The Queen has sent almost 540,000 telegrams to couples in the UK and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.
17. The monarch and Duke of Edinburgh have sent approximately 45,000 Christmas cards during the last sixty years.
18. The sovereign has given out approximately 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff, continuing the custom of George V and George VI.
19. During the last 60 years, the Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 78 state visits, to 116 different countries.
20. Many of the monarch's official tours were undertaken on the Royal Yacht Britannia. It was launched by the Queen on April 16, 1953 and was commissioned for service on January 7, 1954. It was decommissioned in December 1997. During this time, Britannia has travelled more than a million miles on royal and official duties.
21. Britannia was first used by the sovereign when she embarked with Philip on May 1, 1954 at Tobruk for the final stage of their Commonwealth tour returning to the Pool of London.
22. During her reign the Queen has made many visits to her major realms - countries where she is head of state. She has visited Australia 18 times, Canada 22 times, Jamaica 6 times and New Zealand 10 times.
23. The Queen's official visits have ranged from the Cocos Islands, 5.4 square miles with a population of 596, to China, 3.7 million square miles with a population of 1.34 billion.
24. Unusual live gifts given to the monarch on foreign tours include: two tortoises presented in the Seychelles in 1972; a seven-year-old bull elephant called Jumbo from the president of Cameroon in 1972 to mark the Queen's silver wedding anniversary; and two black beavers presented after a visit to Canada.
25. The only time the sovereign has had to interrupt an overseas tour was in 1974 during a visit to Australia and Indonesia when she was called back to the UK from Australia when a general election in the UK was suddenly called. The Duke continued with the programme in Australia and the Queen rejoined the tour in Indonesia.
26. The sovereign's first Commonwealth tour as Queen began on November 24, 1953 and included visits to Canada, Bermuda, Jamaica, Panama, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, the Cocos Islands, Ceylon, Aden, Uganda, Libya, Malta and Gibraltar. The total distance covered was 43,618 miles.
27. The Queen made a historic visit to the Republic of Ireland in May 2011, the first visit by a British monarch since Irish independence.
28. There have been 102 inward state visits from 1952 to the end of 2011, up to and including Turkey in November 2011.
29. The first football match the Queen attended was the 1953 FA Cup Final.
30. The Queen has laid her wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday every year of her reign, except for 6 occasions when she was either pregnant or overseas on official visits.
31. The Queen has attended 56 Royal Maundy services in 43 cathedrals during her reign. A total of 6,710 people have received Maundy Money in recognition of their service to the church and their communities.
32. The monarch has been at the saluting base of her troops in every Trooping the Colour ceremony since the start of her reign, with the exception of 1955, when a national rail strike forced the cancellation of the parade.
33. The sovereign has attended 35 Royal Variety Performances.
34. The monarch has launched 21 ships during her reign.
35. Since it was launched to mark the Queen's golden jubilee in 2002, the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service has been awarded to more than 750 voluntary organisations across all four countries in the UK. Winners of the award have included scout groups, community radio stations, groups who care for the elderly and environmental charities.
36. During the past sixty years almost one and a half million people have attended garden parties at Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
37. The Queen has sat for 129 portraits during her reign.
38. The first royal walkabout took place during the visit by the monarch and Philip to Australia and New Zealand in 1970. The practice was introduced to allow them to meet as many people as possible, not simply officials and dignitaries.
39. In 1969 the first television film about the family life of the Royal Family was made and shown on the eve of the investiture of Charles as Prince of Wales.
40. An important innovation during the Queen's reign was the opening in 1962 of a new gallery at Buckingham Palace to display items from the Royal Collection. The brainchild of the Duke, the new Queen's Gallery occupied the space of the palace's bomb-damaged private chapel. It was the first time that parts of the royal residence had been opened to the general public. The Queen's Gallery was redeveloped and reopened in 2002 for the golden jubilee.
41. The Queen has made a Christmas broadcast to the Commonwealth people every year of her reign except 1969, when a repeat of the film Royal Family was shown and a written message from the monarch issued. In 2002 the sovereign made her 50th Christmas broadcast and in 2004 she issued her first separate broadcast for members of the British armed forces.
42. In 1953, the monarch made the first Christmas broadcast from overseas, rather than from the UK, broadcasting live from New Zealand. The first televised broadcast was in 1957, made live. The first pre-recorded broadcast took place in 1960 to allow transmissions around the world. In 2006 the Christmas broadcast was first made available to download as a podcast.
43. The Queen launched the British monarchy's official website in 1997. In 2007 the official British Monarchy YouTube channel was unveiled, swiftly followed by a Twitter site (2009), Flickr page and Facebook page (both 2010).
44. The Queen hosts theme days and receptions to promote and celebrate aspects of British culture. Recent examples from 2011 include a reception for young people and the performing arts and for explorers. Other themes have included publishing, broadcasting, tourism, emergency services, maritime, music, young achievers, British design and pioneers.
45. In an average year, the monarch will host more than 50,000 people at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and garden parties at Buckingham Palace. The sovereign also hosts more than 8,000 people each year at garden parties and investitures at Holyroodhouse, during Holyrood Week.
46. The Queen was born at 17 Bruton Street, London, W1, on April 21, 1926, was christened on May 29, 1926 in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace and was confirmed on March 28, 1942 in the private chapel at Windsor Castle.
47. The monarch learnt to drive in 1945.
48. With the birth of Andrew in 1960, the Queen became the first reigning sovereign to have a child since Queen Victoria, who had her youngest child, Princess Beatrice, in 1857.
49. The monarch's real birthday is on April 21, but it is celebrated officially in June.
50. During the silver jubilee year, the Queen toured 36 counties in the UK and Northern Ireland, starting in Glasgow on May 17. During her golden jubilee year she toured 35 counties beginning in Cornwall on May 1.
51. The Queen's first foreign tour of the silver jubilee year was a visit to Western Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea. The first foreign tour of her golden jubilee year was to Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia.
52. The monarch has thirty godchildren.
53. The Queen has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign, starting with Susan who was a present for her 18th birthday in 1944. A good proportion of these have been direct descendants from Susan. The Queen currently has three corgis - Monty, Willow and Holly.
54. The Queen also introduced a new breed of dog known as the dorgi when one of her corgis was mated with a dachshund named Pipkin which belonged to Princess Margaret.
55. The Queen and duke have been married for 64 years. They were married on November 20, 1947 in Westminster Abbey. The Queen's wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell and was woven at Winterthur Silks Limited, Dunfermline, in the Canmore factory, using silk that had come from Chinese silkworms at Lullingstone Castle.
56. The monarch's wedding ring was made from a nugget of Welsh gold which came from the Clogau St David's mine near Dolgellau. The official wedding cake was made by McVitie and Price, using ingredients given as a wedding gift by Australian Girl Guides.
57. The wedding of the Queen and Philip was the first and so far the only time in British history that the heir presumptive to the throne had been married.
58. The monarch's racing colours are a purple body with gold braid, scarlet sleeves and black velvet cap with gold fringe. They were adopted from those used by Edward VII; one of his most successful horses was called Diamond Jubilee.
59. Queen Victoria was the last, and to date the only, British monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee. The Queen, who will be 85 on Accession Day in 2012, will be the oldest monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee. Queen Victoria was 77 when she celebrated hers in 1897.
60. Only three heads of state have celebrated diamond jubilee reigns during the Queen's tenure. King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand celebrated 60 years on the throne in 2006; the former Sultan of Johor, now a part of Malaysia, celebrated his in 1955; and the late Emperor Hirohito of Japan marked his in 1986.
60 more facts you didn't know about Queen Elizabeth II. (Some true!)
1. As a child, the Queen was a proficient swimmer and in 1934, aged 8, represented Bruton Street Primary School in a London All-Schools Gala.
2. In that gala, she won her 100m breast-stroke and 150m front-crawl events but was disqualified in butterfly after pole-axing an opponent during a race, with a vicious right hook. She claimed it was an accident but was clearly heard to snarl, 'Take that, loser!' when delivering the errant punch.
3. The Queen is very fond of Prince William's vivacious wife Catherine and has said: "At least her parents are well orf, so she won't be another Fergie."
4. After watching dancing dog Pudsey win Britain's Got Talent, 2012, the Queen instructed her Royal dog trainer to teach her corgis formation line-dancing. Progress to date is reported to be slow.
5. The Queen keeps a hip flask in her handbag, but it contains nothing stronger than a malted-milk drink. Asked about his memories of meeting the monarch at a Royal Command Performance, one particular rock-star claimed, "Man, she reeked of Horlicks."
6. 116 local Councils in Britain have banned Diamond Jubilee street parties in their communities as it could offend 1229 other cultures.
7. The Queen is still embarrassed over an incident, famously captured on camera, when her giggling husband farted on the Royal balcony. She describes it as Philip's anus horribilis.
8. During her 60-year reign, The Queen has excelled, and has acted with impeccable grace and dignity, never putting a foot wrong (unlike her errant husband and most of her errant, married children).
9. A major piece of art in the Queen's Royal Collection is the iconic 'Christ and St Mary Magdalene At The Tomb', painted by Rembrandt (1606-1669). On one occasion in 1991, Her Majesty went on TV's 'Antiques Roadshow', masquerading as a Welsh clog dancer, to ascertain a valuation for the painting and was told "£:25.99, but accept £:21.50."
10. 'God save our Queen' is an anagram of: 'Queue over gonads.' Remarkable!
11. The Queen is a great fan of the movie 'Dirty Dancing' and she and the Duke took secret lessons for several months in order to surprise everyone by dancing the 'I've Had The Time Of My Life' routine at his 90th birthday party. Regrettably, it had to be abandoned after her husband pulled a leg muscle chasing a chambermaid up the stairs.
12. Her Majesty has her own Facebook page under the name 'Bette Balmoral'. She has 19 Facebook Friends.
13. The Queen and her husband have an ongoing secret competition between them to see who can last longest at public functions without having a wee. She is winning so far with a personal best of 481 minutes 25 seconds. The Duke does well to last 30 minutes now.
14. During her reign, the Queen's had 12 Prime Ministers. (Not 'had' them in the sexual sense of course. Come on... Winston Churchill? Would you?)
15. Some 559 civic Councils in Britain have banned flag-waving during the Jubilee celebrations in case someone gets poked in the eye or the privates.
16. The Queen's husband is worshipped as a god by the Yaohnanen tribe on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu. When the Duke was informed of this, he sent them a photo of himself. The tribe responded by sending him a traditional pig-killing club called a 'nal-nal'. The Duke in turn responded by sending them a photo of himself wielding the nal-nal while clad only in a loin-cloth.
17. The Queen loves Dixieland music and does a very impressive Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) impersonation.
18. 852 local Councils in Britain have banned cheering during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations as it is considered a noise nuisance.
19. Her Majesty has read every novel Barbara Cartland (1901-2000) ever wrote.
20. Over the years, the Queen has turned down 1000 requests from art clubs (and one from Playboy) to pose for them.
21. In private, the Queen is known as an inveterate giggler with a sharp sense of humour. When Michael Fagin famously broke into her bedroom in 1982, she was not only unfazed but proceeded to entertain him with vaudevillian Tommy Cooper (1921-1984) impressions for 2 hours until he pleaded to be arrested.
22. The Duke calls his wife by the nick-names of 'Cabbage' and 'Sausage', for reasons unknown. She in turn calls him 'Peanut' for reasons known to a select inner circle.
23. Her Majesty loves nothing more than having food fights at the banqueting table. The kitchen staff have to be given 2 days notice of her intentions in this respect as they have to make 155 extra custard pies each time.
24. The Queen's favourite hat is a vivid turquoise fascinator. It cost £:1.99 in an Oxfam charity store in Gravesend.
25. The multimillionaire Queen receives 600-700 begging letters a week. 200 of them are sent by Fergie.
26. In 2003, The Queen made an unprecedented visit to Annabel's nightclub for a friend's 70th birthday party. According to a report she was heard asking a server, "Is this the corner where Harry threw up the other night?"
27. The Queen is reputed to have a soft spot for Prince Harry in particular. "He's so handsome," she once said to Charles; "just like that nice Mr James Hewitt."
28. 221 local Councils in Britain have banned consumption of alcohol at street parties for fear of rowdiness. Uniformed police officers will carry out spot-checks with breathalysers and have said they will exercise a zero-tolerance policy.
29. 'Her Majesty' is an anagram of 'Ah, my jester.' How incredible is that?
30. When Prince Philip grew a full set of whiskers for a 4-month Commonwealth tour, he was greeted on his return in February 1957 by the Queen, who was wearing a false ginger beard.
31. The Queen prefers a simple cheese sandwich to the cucumber sandwiches that are normally served at her garden parties, explaining that the latter 'give one the gripes something chronic.'
32. The Queen's 2 favourite Olympic events are Showjumping and Swimming. It is reported that she prefers to watch these activities while wearing riding boots, jodhpurs and bathing cap.
33. Her Majesty loves a tomato ketchup sandwich, much to her husband's chagrin, who complains, "I don't know why you indulge in those damned things; you end up wearing more of the sodding stuff than you eat!"
34. When the Queen acceded the throne in 1952, there were 3,000,000 vehicles on the roads in Britain. Today, there are more than 30,000,000. Of these 6,500,000 aren't in use as their owners can't afford the fuel. Another 5,500,000 are stuck in horrific traffic jams at any given time on Britain's inadequate roads.
35. In 1952, more than half the over-30s in Britain had false teeth!
36. The Queen's wealth is estimated at approximately £:350,000,000, plus 150 drachma (thrown into the Royal coffers by her husband when Greece converted to the euro).
37. The Queen is a great aficionado of aeroplanes and can tell, just by its engine note, the identity of any 'plane passing over Windsor Castle, going to and from Heathrow. At such times, she will make comments such as, "My Gawd, Peanut, that Boeing 747 is fair rattling me dentures."
38. The Queen's favourite dance record is the 12" version of 'Oops Upside Your Head'. Whenever she hears the song on the radio, she will gather together as many palace staff as she can to do the rowing-action dancing with her. Sometimes, the assembled 'rowers' stretch the whole length of the East Wing corridor of Windsor Castle.
39. The Queen has about 1200 staff in the Royal Household. 142 of them are in service just to be available for 'Oops Upside Your Head' duties.
40. For many years, the satirical periodical 'Private Eye' has referred to the Queen as 'Brenda' and referred to Princess Margaret as 'Yvonne.' The reasons are unclear. The Queen is one of the few VIPs not to have sued them for libel.
41. Britain is unusual in being the only country in the world to have 2 Queens: Elizabeth II and Sir Elton John 1 (1947-).
42. In December 1981, the Queen was driving home from visiting Anne when a sudden snowstorm caused her car to be stranded. She found refuge in a local pub, where she downed 6 gin and tonics and 2 Cornish pasties during the evening, which the landlord provided gratis as she had no cash on her. She claimed afterwards to have had 'a very nice time.'
43. The monarch has seen the movie 'The Queen' 29 times and is an ardent Helen Mirren fan.
44. The Jubilee flotilla down the Thames will be 7.5 miles long and 1,125,000 people are expected to attend. If you are caught in the middle of them and needing a pee then your chances of survival are slim.
45. The Queen is a dedicated fan of TV soap 'Emmerdale' and was delighted to be invited to appear as an extra in an episode in 1991. (She is the elderly female dancing in a head-scarf to 'La Vida Loca' with Eric Pollard at a wedding reception').
46. At the age of 19, the Queen wrote a romantic novel and sent it to Mills and Boon under a pen-name: Zelda White-Robins (an anagram of Elizabeth Windsor). It was rejected because its plot about a girl marrying a Greek prince, becoming Queen and having 4 dysfunctional children was considered 'too fanciful'.
47. The Queen has an IQ of 104
48. The Council at Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset have banned the hanging of bunting from lamp-posts in case the lamp-posts fall over.
49. American anti-royalist Alex Jones (1974-) claimed on YouTube that the Royal Family have an appointed 'Groom of the Stool', a Lord employed to wipe the Royal derrieres. (Warning, the video clip is extremely offensive, vile and defamatory - view it with extreme care). This is one of several lies voiced by the vitriolic and quarrelsome Mr Jones (the practice described actually died out on the demise of King Henry VIII in 1547).
50. The monarch loves Cliff Richard (1940-) and whenever she can, will travel in secret with Camilla to see him in concert.
51. The Queen learned to drive in 1945. Her first car was a 1948 Morris Minor Traveller, which she still drives to the corner shop for her weekly cigars.
52. The Queen has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign and now owns a mere 3. Latest reports say the dogs are still not mastering their line-dancing.
53. In April 2011, the corgis accidentally ate a box of Prince Philip's laxatives. The result is too horrific to describe.
54. The place the Queen was born at is now an Indian restaurant called 'Madras Dream', where Prince Harry often visits for a curry.
55. The Queen should be addressed as 'Ma'am'. She is not a 'Madam'. Remember that!
56. The Queen and Margaret harboured a secret, daredevil desire to appear in vaudeville, singing as 'Lili and Mimi '. Mad tarts!
57. The Queen is 5'4" tall (1,630mm)
58. Former Prime Minister, Edward Heath (1916-2005) was often the butt of Her Majesty's humour. On one occasion, as the music-loving Heath was boarding the Royal yacht Britannia, he was greeted by the monarch mimicking a conductor. "Are you still waving your stick around?" she asked him, poker-faced (true!)
59. When asked her favourite 3 performers of all time, the monarch replied: "Pavarotti, Caruso and Jedward."
60. On her Coronation in 1953, our monarch said: "I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart, I shall strive to be worthy of your trust."
She's kept her pledge in an impeccable manner.
God Save The Queen!