Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee, receiving congratulatory messages from all over the world for her great achievement of spending 60 years on the throne. It’s a tough job -– living in that cramped old palace with a staff of only 250 to take care of your needs, sometimes having to butter your crumpets all by yourself. Most people would have quit by now.
It’s no wonder that the Diamond Jubilee is being celebrated throughout the British Commonwealth, particularly in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica and a dozen other sovereign states where the Queen is still considered Head of State, with the constitutional authority to make important decisions, such as whether to allow Justin Bieber to sing within 1,000 miles of her.
In just four years, when she’s 89, she’ll pass Queen Victoria for the longest reign of a British monarch –- and if she lives to be 108, she’ll pass King Sobhuza II of Swaziland for the longest verifiable reign in history. And her eldest son, Prince Charles, will set a record for the longest wait in history. The current record of 75 years is held by David Neevadock, who’s been waiting to see a doctor at Toronto General Hospital.
If you haven’t followed the Queen’s reign closely, here are some facts that may surprise you:
—She married Prince Philip on Nov. 20, 1947 –- not long after World War II. She had fallen in love with him when she was 13 and he was 18. The tabloids promptly dubbed them “Philizabeth.”
—She took her vows as Queen on June 2, 1953. A televised recording of her coronation was watched by 100 million people in North America. Soon after that, the remote control was invented.
—In 1945, she received training as a driver and mechanic after joining the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. Her knowledge came in handy in 1949 when her car broke down and poor Philip looked in the trunk for the carburetor.
—In 2010, Forbes magazine estimated her net worth to be $450 million. But that was before she invested heavily in the website MarryPrinceHarry.com.
—It’s customary to address her initially as “Your Majesty” and thereafter as “Ma’am.” Calling her “girl” or “babe” is acceptable only if you don’t mind having a handbag print on your forehead.
—The Queen travels freely around the world without a passport. Only one airport security officer has ever tried to frisk her. God rest his soul.
—She has bestowed almost 400,000 titles and awards during her reign. She has conferred a knighthood on acclaimed author Salman Rushdie, appointed singer Kylie Minogue as an officer in the Order of the British Empire (OBE), and honored President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe with an IBE: “Idiot of the British Empire.”
—The Queen has donned more than 5,000 hats over the decades. Her hat closet is so large, someone once got lost in there. Thankfully, a crack squad from London Police Service, using GPS devices and a pair of sniffer dogs, was able to locate Prince Philip.
—After completing 250 official visits to 129 countries, the Queen gained a spot in the Guinness World Records for the “Most Traveled Monarch” –- the only human in Guinness history to ever displace a butterfly.
—The Queen speaks both English and French fluently. Her knowledge of Hindi is limited to the phrase “topi mere saiz ka milegaa?” (Do you have this hat in my size?)