LICENSED TO DRIVE – AT 18
Pictured: The Queen driving an ambulance for the Auxiliary Territorial Service
Although the Queen never took a driving test, she was taught to drive at her own insistence when she served as a subaltern with the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945, aged 18. By the end of the war she was a fully qualified driver.
Here her driving permit tells us that she has blue eyes, is 5ft 4in tall and has light brown hair.
In the 60s she told the Labour MP Barbara Castle that her service in the ATS was the only time she had ever been able to measure herself against others of her age, having never been to school or college.
CAP THAT GOT HER TICKED OFF
Elizabeth II is the last living head of state to have served in the Second World War.
The Queen said her Auxiliary Territorial Service cap (pictured) was a useful disguise when she joined revellers in the streets of London on VE Day
She wore her Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) uniform on VE Day when she joined her parents, sister and Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the Buckingham Palace balcony to acknowledge the jubilant crowds.
Forty years on she recalled her cap was a useful disguise when she joined the revellers in the streets of London. She said she pulled it ‘well down over my eyes’ to stop herself being recognised. But, she added, she was reprimanded by a fellow officer.
‘A Grenadier officer amongst our party of about 16 people said he refused to be seen in the company of another officer improperly dressed, so I had to put my cap on normally.’
FLASH, BANG, WALLOP – WHAT A CAMERA BUFF
The Queen taking photographs with her gold Rollei camera during a visit to the Badminton Horse Trials
If the Queen ever held an exhibition of her snaps it would be a sell-out. The Royal Encyclopaedia published in 1991 includes one of her photos of a beaming Winston Churchill at Balmoral as well as a profile of Prince Philip rowing on Loch Muick. In 1958 the Leitz camera company gave her a camera.
The Queen was presented with a a gold-plated Rollei 35S (pictured) in the 60s
Then in the 60s she was presented with a gold-plated Rollei 35S, though by the 80s she was using a more straightforward Canon Sure Shot. Over the years she’s been seen using all three at the Royal Windsor Horse Show as well as when she watched Princess Anne compete at horse trials.
She has also sneaked photos on foreign visits, for instance on the Great Wall of China. When she visited Russia in 1994 and stayed at the Kremlin she got up early to snap the iconic setting before being taken round a few hours later on an official tour by Boris Yeltsin.
THE MAJESTIC STEED THAT WITNESSED AN ATTACK ON THE QUEEN
The Queen rode Burmese (pictured) to every Trooping the Colour between 1960 to 1986, then the mare retired
Burmese (1962-90) was a black mare gifted to the Queen by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Her Majesty first rode her to Trooping the Colour in 1969 and then at every subsequent Trooping until the mare retired in 1986.
At this point she decided not to ride to the ceremony on horseback any longer, partly as a tribute to Burmese and partly to avoid the necessity of training a new mount.
St John Ambulance gave the Queen a bronze model of Burmese in 1987
The Queen was particularly fond of the graceful and placid horse and enjoyed the two weeks perfecting her side-saddle technique in the Royal Mews and then in the Palace gardens. Burmese’s most memorable moment came on 13 June, 1981, when the Queen was approaching Horse Guards Parade for that year’s ceremony and 17-year-old Marcus Sarjeant fired blanks at the monarch.
The Queen later told friends she had spotted Sarjeant in the crowd with the gun and couldn’t believe her eyes. She also revealed that what scared Burmese most was the clatter of cavalrymen belatedly cantering alongside the Queen to help her, which spooked the horse.
In 1987 the St John Ambulance, of which the Queen has been patron since 1952, gave her this one-third-sized bronze model of Burmese with gilt bridle and saddle. A tribute to a fine and much-loved horse.
…AND HER SIX TREASURED MEDALS
All of the six medals (pictured) the Queen wore on her uniform at Trooping the Colour until 1986 predate her reign
Protocol dictates the Queen can’t present herself with medals, so the six she wore on her uniform at Trooping the Colour until 1986, the last year she rode on horseback, all predate her reign.
They are, from left to right: The Imperial Order of the Crown of India (this order was established by Queen Victoria after she became Empress of India and it was only open to females.
The Queen and Princess Margaret were among the last to receive the honour in 1947, since no more appointments were made following the partition of India that year); the Defence Medal; the War Medal 1939-45; the Silver Jubilee Medal of King George V; the Coronation Medal of King George VI; the Canadian Forces Decoration.
PANTO THAT BEGUILED HER PRINCE CHARMING
Princess Elizabeth starred in a production of Aladdin at Windsor Castle at age 17 (pictured)
When 17-year-old Princess Elizabeth starred in a production of Aladdin at Windsor Castle, she had no idea it would change her life for ever. For sitting in the front row was Prince Philip of Greece, 22, whom she already had a teenage crush on.
Just as Prince William would later fall for Kate Middleton dressed in a revealing lacy outfit during a university fashion show, Philip couldn’t have missed the fact that his distant cousin had suddenly transformed into a stunning princess.
Less enamoured was her father George VI, who regularly complained that the future Queen’s panto costumes were too short. Philip stayed for Christmas – and was a frequent visitor from then on.
A MUCH CHERISHED PHOTOGRAPH
A photograph of the Queen’s father King George VI smiling tenderly at Prince Charles (pictured) sits in pride of place on her writing desk
One photograph has always been close to the Queen’s heart and sits in pride of place on her writing desk. It shows her father King George VI smiling tenderly at Prince Charles, the only one of his grandsons he lived to meet. It was taken at the king’s request on Charles’s third birthday on 14 November, 1951.
Elizabeth and Philip were away on a tour of Canada and the king and queen hosted a small birthday party at Buckingham Palace for Charles and six of his friends as well as a seven-year-old Prince Richard of Gloucester, a cousin of the Queen.
It was the first time the king had been photographed since undergoing a pneumonectomy to remove his cancerous left lung in September. He lived for less than three months after the photograph was taken, and sitting on the sofa with his grandfather is the only memory Prince Charles has of him.
I KNIGHT THEE, CAPTAIN TOM, WITH MY FATHER’S SWORD
The Queen used a sword that belonged to her father when 100-year-old Captain Tom Moore was knighted at Windsor Castle (pictured)
The sword the Queen uses for investitures belonged to her father and was worn by him in his duties as Colonel of the Scots Guards from 1932-7. He was presented with two versions.
The one used by his daughter is the smaller, lighter ‘picquet’ type. The swords are etched with the battle honours of the Scots Guards as well as the cypher of George V, either because it belonged to him or because he was king at the time his son was appointed Colonel.
Occasionally it has been used for investitures outdoors, such as when 100-year-old Captain Tom Moore was knighted by the 94-year-old Queen at Windsor Castle in 2020. It was the first time the ceremony had been held in a strictly socially distanced format.
CHEERS TO HER MAJESTY’S SANDRINGHAM ALES
Like her mother, the Queen is known to enjoy a pre-dinner gin and Dubonnet, so it was a surprise to hear, less than a year ago, that Her Majesty had branched out into selling her own Sandringham beer.
The Queen has branched out into selling her own beer, and the golden IPA features an apprehensive-looking pheasant (pictured)
Made by the Barsham Brewery near Fakenham, the new royal tipples are a 4.3 per cent best bitter and a stronger 5 per cent golden IPA. Both are made using organic Laureate spring barley grown on the Sandringham estate and are for sale in the gift shop there.
The best bitter’s label shows a hare while the golden IPA features an apprehensive-looking pheasant. Sadly one consumer who’s not around any more to enjoy the new range is the Duke of Edinburgh, who preferred beer to wine even at state banquets.
During the Queen’s state visit to Italy in 2000, he refused the country’s finest wines, declaring, ‘I don’t care what kind it is, just get me a beer!’ Four years later, leaving a reception in Liverpool, the duke helped himself to two cans of brown ale ‘for the onward journey’, tucking them into his inside jacket pocket.
NORMAN HARNELL’S GLORIOUS CORONATION MASTERPIECE…
Norman Hartnell, who had created the Queen’s wedding dress in 1947, was tasked with creating her Coronation dress (pictured)
The Queen’s Coronation dress is one of the most outstanding examples of 20th-century couture by a British designer. Norman Hartnell, who had created the Queen’s wedding dress in 1947, was given the historic task, but it was Elizabeth, 26, who influenced the design.
She summoned Hartnell to the Palace in October 1952 to offer him the commission and to tell him ‘that the dress should conform in line to that of her wedding dress and that the material should be white satin’. Hartnell produced eight designs, and the one she chose included all the floral emblems of the countries of the UK – but she asked him for more colour.
She also wanted the floral emblems of Commonwealth nations to be included, from Canada’s maple leaf to Australia’s wattle. The Queen was delighted with the gown, though she asked for the green of the shamrock to be more subdued.
The magnificent dress, and her coronet from her father’s Coronation (see top) will feature in stunning Platinum Jubilee exhibitions this summer. For details, see rct.uk.
… AND A PERSONAL INVITE FOR CHARLES
The Queen very much wanted Charles to be present at her Coronation and had this elaborate and very personal invitation designed for him.
The Queen had a very personal invitation (pictured) to her Coronation designed for Charles
Aged four and a half, he was too young to play any meaningful part in the ceremony so it was decided he would be smuggled into the Royal Gallery at Westminster Abbey to sit between the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret to witness the actual moment of crowning.
According to his biographer Jonathan Dimbleby, ‘He tugged frequently at the Queen Mother’s sleeves but could not later remember what precisely had excited his curiosity.’ One abiding memory he does have is that before the ceremony the palace barber had cut his hair too short and plastered it down with ‘the most appalling gunge’.
A CORONET FOR THE KING
Elizabeth, 11, and her sister Margaret, six, (pictured) wore identical dresses for George VI’s Coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1937
For George VI’s Coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1937 it was decided Elizabeth, 11, and her sister Margaret, six, would wear identical dresses, trains and gold coronets.
In the carriage returning to the Palace, Margaret started to excitedly bounce on a cushion to make her visible to the cheering crowds. Her coronet slipped over one ear, and an irate Elizabeth, always the sensible sister, snapped, ‘Be quiet, Margaret!’
THE ONE PLACE SHE COULD TRULY RELAX
The clocks on Britannia (pictured) have been stopped at 3.01pm, the time when Her Majesty stepped off the ship for the last time
One of the defining images of the Queen’s reign is that of her struggling to hold back her tears on the day the Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997. It was clear the effect the loss of this much-loved vessel had on her, mainly because it was the only home she and Prince Philip had designed for themselves from scratch.
Assisted by the interior designer and architect Hugh Casson, the duke supervised the technical features and the basic decor of the ship, while the Queen chose the fabrics and even the door knobs and lampshades. She once said, ‘Britannia is the one place I can truly relax.’
A highlight of the year was her cruise around the Western Isles of Scotland each summer. In a touching tribute the clocks on Britannia, which is now a visitor attraction in Edinburgh, have been stopped at 3.01pm, the time when Her Majesty stepped off the ship for the last time.
BROLLY GOOD SHOW, MA’AM!
Senior royal dresser Angela Kelly sends a material swatch to Fulton, so the Queen’s umbrellas can be tailor-made to match her outfits
London-based company Fulton supplies the clear-domed Birdcage brollies that the Queen has used for 20 years. Her mother began the trend when she asked her secretary to search for a see-through umbrella so she could be easily spotted by the crowds even on wet days.
The Queen’s umbrellas are tailor-made to match whichever outfit she is due to wear. Senior royal dresser Angela Kelly sends a material swatch to Fulton and they produce a canopy trim, handle and point in the exact shade. Her Majesty has a cupboard full of colours to choose from.
COLLECTION OF DOLLS FIT FOR A PRINCESS
The Queen had a total of 150 dolls and in 1935 she and Margaret were given two made by the French company Raynal, which are still in the Royal Collection (pictured)
The young Elizabeth was dubbed ‘the world’s best known baby’ and she was inundated with toys by an adoring public. During their 1927 tour of Australia and New Zealand, her parents were given an astonishing three tons of gifts for the princess.
The Queen’s nanny Clara Knight laid down a one-toy-at-a-time rule, with the first being a doll’s pram (pictured)
So as not to spoil her, her nanny Clara Knight laid down a one-toy-at-a-time rule. At first it was her white wickerwork doll’s pram that she was most fond of, pushing it around the garden of the family’s London home, 145 Piccadilly.
She had a total of 150 dolls and in 1935 she and Margaret were given two made by the French company Raynal, which are still in the Royal Collection (above far left).
They have articulated limbs and fleshtoned felt skins, and wear miniature versions of Lanvin dresses. The red doll called Pamela (above), made about the same time, wears clothes by Sloane Street store Smith & Co.
A GORGEOUS GIFT FROM HER FATHER
The Queen wore a basket of flowers brooch gifted by George VI for her first official photograph with Prince Charles (pictured)
The brooch (pictured) was made up of ruby, diamond and sapphire blooms
The Queen was particularly close to her father. She modelled her style of monarchy on his and often, when faced with a problem in the early days of her reign, she would ask her private secretary, ‘What would the king have done?’ George VI, who once said that Elizabeth was his pride and Margaret his joy, liked bestowing gifts on his eldest daughter.
For a wedding present in 1947 he gave her a sapphire necklace and earrings set. The following year when Prince Charles was born he gave her this basket of flowers brooc, made up of ruby, diamond and sapphire blooms.
The doting new mother wore it a month later for her first official photograph with her baby son.