Queen Elizabeth II died on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 96 years old after becoming the longest-reigning British monarch. The news came after Buckingham Palace announced that she was put on medical supervision early Thursday. As the world mourns her death, and Prince Charles succeeds to the throne, we’re honoring the Queen’s legacy by looking back at her long life — and the immense talents, fascinations and gifts she possessed.
Read on for 20 facts you may not have known about the beloved monarch.
1. Her Majesty is fluent in French and often speaks the language for audiences and at state visits — without the need for an interpreter.
2. During her reign, the queen has received more than 3.5 million letters — and counting. Talk about a full inbox!
3. She’s bestowed some 404,500 honors and awards.
4. From the British Red Cross to regiments in the Armed Forces, Elizabeth is patron to more than 600 charities and organizations.
5. The monarch has made 260- plus official overseas visits to 116 countries around the world.
6. In an average year, Elizabeth hosts more than 50,000 people at various banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and garden parties at Buckingham Palace.
7. Her Majesty has launched more than 20 ships. The first was the battleship HMS Vanguard in 1944, and the most recent was her namesake aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, in December 2017.
8. The sovereign has given out approximately 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff. How sweet!
9. Ever since her father, King George VI, gave her a Brownie box camera, Elizabeth has been a keen photographer and loves taking pictures of her family.
10. She’s sat for over 130 official portraits, including a 3-D holographic image created in 2003 in honor of the island of Jersey’s 800- year allegiance to the English throne.
11. She sent a message of congratulations to the Apollo 11 astronauts for the first moon landing in 1969, which was later deposited there in a metal container.
12. Her first horse was a Shetland pony named Peggy. The avid equestrian now has some two dozen racehorses in training each season.
13. Her Majesty once demoted a footman and cut his salary for giving her corgis whiskey!
14. In addition to lace-trimmed pillows and its own chefs, the luxurious nine-carriage Royal Train comes with a hard-and-fast rule — no bumpy tracks while the queen is taking her 7:30 a.m. bath!
15. There’s a private ATM (only for royals!) she could use at Buckingham Palace — but what on earth would she use the pounds and pence for?
16. There have been 23 wax figures of the queen at Madame Tussauds in London. The first was of a 2-year-old Princess Elizabeth in 1928.
17. She reportedly loves to indulge in a glass of champagne each night before bed.
18. In 2015, the queen purchased a $7.9 million, 3,000-square-foot apartment near the U.N. headquarters in New York City.
19. The monarch has a talent for mimicry and can imitate the sound of a Concorde jet landing.
20. She’s a fan of Downton Abbey and loves to “pick out the mistakes.”