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The Most Intriguing Special Privileges of Queen Elizabeth II

Stefan Andrews
Getty Images
Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II has logged world records for being the longest-serving monarch in British history, and in the history of the world. No other monarch has reigned as long as she has.

The Queen’s lifetime achievement was marked on February 6, 2017, when Her Majesty had her Sapphire Jubilee, a reminder that she has sat on the throne as the Queen of England for record-breaking 65 years.

Queen Elizabeth II attends the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. Photo by Pool/Max Mumby/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II attends the wedding of Prince Harry to Ms. Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. Photo by Pool/Max Mumby/Getty Images

Since Queen Elizabeth II holds such an important title, which practically makes her one of the most powerful women in the world, she does have some special privileges.

She doesn’t have to sing the national anthem, God Save the Queen, as it is dedicated to her. She is also not obligated to pay taxes, though it’s said the Queen pays them anyway, voluntarily.

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Author: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives CC BY 2.0

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Author: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives CC BY 2.0

A still-active legal statute from the 14th century says she is also the owner of all “whales and sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the realm,” according to Mental Floss.

But what are the most intriguing privileges of being the Queen?

About the Queen’s name and surname

The now 92-year-old reigning monarch is the second in its country’s history to bear the name Elizabeth, though her name has nothing much to do with 16th century Queen Elizabeth I.

The Queen’s full name by birth is Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, a name that truly honors her own mother Elizabeth, and also her great-grandmother Queen Alexandra, and her grandmother Queen Mary. The latter two are ancestors from the line of the Queen’s father.

Princess Elizabeth on the cover of Time magazine, April 1929.

Princess Elizabeth on the cover of Time magazine, April 1929.

Regarding her family name of “Windsor”: the Queen is the fourth British monarch of the House of Windsor, a branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha which was renamed by King George V during World War One (taking the name from Windsor Castle) due to anti-German sentiment of the public.

But in 1960, Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, opted for another change of the surname. Their official surname now reads Windsor-Mountbatten.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 1953.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 1953.

The Queen, however, never has to actually use her last name. For obvious reasons — everyone knows who she is. There is only one Queen Elizabeth and she is free from specifying which Elizabeth she is. Her signature normally reads Elizabeth R., with R. denoting her status of Regina (Latin for Queen).

She is well-traveled and without a passport

Another gain for Queen Elizabeth is that she doesn’t use a passport when she travels overseas. In Britain, all passports are officially issued in the Queen’s name, so it apparently doesn’t make sense that she owns one, too.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip disembark from a British Airways Concord.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip disembark from a British Airways Concord.

Passport-free, Her Majesty has traveled wide and far. She has been to over 120 countries during her official visits as the head of state.

In addition to the Commonwealth countries, she has also seen other far-flung places such as the Middle East, Mexico, Botswana, and Russia.

Sir John Lavarack, Governor of Queensland, Australia, says good-bye to The Queen on Thursday 18 March 1954, and escorts her to the Royal Aeroplane at Eagle Farm Airport at the end of her Queensland journey.

Sir John Lavarack, Governor of Queensland, Australia, says good-bye to The Queen on Thursday 18 March 1954, and escorts her to the Royal Aeroplane at Eagle Farm Airport at the end of her Queensland journey.

According to the Telegraph, “the Queen has traveled more than 1,032,513 miles, equivalent to 42 journeys around the entire circumference of the Earth.”

Her trip of longest duration was a 1953 Commonwealth tour, a journey that measured an astonishing 44,000 miles, for which she was “armed with 12 tons of luggage.”

The last time the Queen made a state visit was in late 2015 when she flew to Malta.

Queensland’s Governor says good-bye to Queen Elizabeth II, 1959. Photo by BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives CC By 2.0

Queensland’s Governor says good-bye to Queen Elizabeth II, 1959. Photo by BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives CC By 2.0

The Queen has never paid a visit to Israel, perhaps due to political reasons, nor Greece, possibly due to the estranged relationship between her husband’s birth country and his family history.

The list of souvenirs the Queen has taken home, as you might imagine, is exotic to say the last. From Fiji: a grass skirt and whales teeth; from the Seychelles: an intricate collection of shells, from Cameroon: an elephant.

Canada and the United States have respectably gifted an ice-hockey t-shirt and cowboy boots to the Queen, not that we’ve seen evidence of her wearing them.

The Queen doesn’t need a driving license

The Queen mastered her driving skills during her time being with the Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II.

Still only a princess during the wartime, she opted to join the military unit of women who fulfilled duties as drivers, mechanics, or postal workers.

Princess Elizabeth in Auxiliary Territorial Service uniform, April 1945.

Princess Elizabeth in Auxiliary Territorial Service uniform, April 1945.

The engagement makes Her Majesty the only woman from the royal family who has taken part in military service, and she remains the single living head of state today who served in WWII.

Aside from that, if someone asks Her Majesty to show her driving license, well she doesn’t own one.

Just like passports, driving licenses in Britain are issued under Her Majesty’s authority.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Duke of Edinburgh arriving at Cloudland, Brisbane, Australia, 1982.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH Duke of Edinburgh arriving at Cloudland, Brisbane, Australia, 1982.

An anecdote tells us how the now late Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who was a guest of the Queen at her Balmoral residence in Scotland, was taken by surprise in 2003.

King Abdullah was about to get a tour around Balmoral when he was told to take the front passenger seat. The Queen, who was 77 years old at the time, befuddled her guest by hopping behind the driver’s seat of her Land Rover.

The Queen riding her horse Burmese, a gift to her from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, at the 1986 Trooping the Colour ceremony.

The Queen riding her horse Burmese, a gift to her from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, at the 1986 Trooping the Colour ceremony.

“To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off,” recounted Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, at the time serving a term as British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, for the Sunday Times.

Queen Elizabeth was probably the first and the last woman to ever give a ride to King Abdullah. His country lifted an age-old ban on issuing driving licenses to women only in 2018. Rumor has it the Queen talked to him the entire time while driving, even after he remarked she should watch on the road.

Animals: the Queen’s ‘love relationship’ with corgis

It’s a widely known story that the Queen loves her corgis. She has been keen to this breed ever since she was a child, when her father brought home the first Pembroke Welsh corgi called Dookie.

For her 18th birthday in 1944, Elizabeth received Susan and her love for corgis was sealed for eternity. Susan went on to be the stepping stone for a royal corgi breeding program that has produced all corgis that have barked within the royal quarters ever since.

A corgi dog wearing a crown.

A corgi dog wearing a crown.

The breeding program has been overseen personally by the Queen through at least 14 generations and over the period of 50 years, according to Vanity Fair.

But at present, the Queen also owns two “dorgis” named Candy and Vulcan. This new crossbreed was engineered when one of her corgis mated with a Dachshund named Pipkin that was owned Princess Margaret. It basically means the Queen has created her own breed of dogs.

The Queen Mother Memorial bronze on The Mall, by Paul Day, shows her with two Corgis. Photo by Charlie Dave CC BY-SA 3.0

The Queen Mother Memorial bronze on The Mall, by Paul Day, shows her with two Corgis. Photo by Charlie Dave CC BY-SA 3.0

The pair of dorgis, accompanied by Holly and Willow, two corgis owned by Her Majesty, appeared on photographs issued by the Buckingham Palace on the occasion of the Queen’s 90th birthday in 2016.

The Queen has taken care of at least 30 different corgis during her reign. And she always looks pretty happy around them.

She celebrates her birthday both in April and June

Well, only a Queen can have her own slice of birthday cake twice a year.

Just as earlier occupants of the British throne, Her Majesty gets to celebrate two birthdays. The first one is her real one, the second is her public official birthday.

Queen Elizabeth II at the Trooping the Colour on her Official Birthday.

Queen Elizabeth II at the Trooping the Colour on her Official Birthday.

Queen Elizabeth was born on April 21, 1926, and this is the day when she celebrates privately with close family members. The day is formally observed with gun salutes made from three different locations: Hyde Park, Windsor Great Park, and the Tower of London.

The Queen’s official birthday is celebrated with a lavish ceremony, the Trooping the Colour, on the second Saturday of each June.

The exact date of the ceremony varies almost every year, but mid-June is chosen as there is a much better chance of good weather for the outdoor celebrations.

Read another story from us: That Time the Future Queen Elizabeth II Slipped Incognito into the London Crowds

On her official birthday, Elizabeth II also makes an appearance at Buckingham Palace. While the U.K. holds the Trooping the Colour ceremony, other realms of the Commonwealth join in by declaring a public holiday to honor their Queen’s birthday.