Miss Fortescue's Protector in Paris

Miss Fortescue's Protector in Paris
Book 3, Debutantes in Paris! May, 2018

Friday, June 03, 2016

Heroine of the Weekend: Queen Elizabeth II

This year is all about the queen!  With her Diamond Jubilee so recently behind us, and her 90th birthday this year, we're seeing a lot about Queen Elizabeth, and I love it.  She is certainly a great heroine, who has devoted her long life to hard work and service, and long may she reign.  We all know the details of her life, so I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few trivia facts...
 She speaks fluent French and often uses the language for audiences and state visits. She does not require an interpreter.
She's received over 3.5 million items of correspondence during her reign.
Since 1952, she has conferred over 404,500 honors and awards.
Queen Elizabeth II is Britain's 40th monarch since William the Conqueror was crowned.
About 1.5 million people have attended garden parties at Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland since Elizabeth has been on the throne.
Over the course of her reign, she has given regular Tuesday-evening audiences to 12 British Prime Ministers, starting with Winston Churchill
She is patron of more than 600 charities and organizations.
In the past 60 years, the Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 96 state visits, to 116 different countries.
In 2005, she claimed ownership of 88 cygnets (young swans) on the River Thames. They are looked after by a swan marker. The first royal swan keeper was appointed around the 12th century.  Technically, the Queen still owns the sturgeons, whales and dolphins in the waters around the U.K. A statute from 1324, during the reign of King Edward II, states, "Also the King shall have ... whales and sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the realm." This statute is still valid today, and sturgeons, porpoises, whales and dolphins are recognized as "fishes royal"
The Queen joined Facebook in November 2010, with a page called the British Monarchy, which features royal news, photos, videos and speeches. (I doubt she will play Candy Crush, though)
Elizabeth was the first British monarch to celebrate her diamond wedding anniversary.
 Elizabeth has sent more than 175,000 telegrams to centenarians in the U.K. and the Commonwealth, and more than 540,000 telegrams to couples in the U.K. and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.
 In an average year, the Queen hosts more than 50,000 people at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and garden parties at Buckingham Palace. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have sent over 37,500 Christmas cards during her reign and she has given out approximately 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff, continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI. In addition, the Queen gives her entire staff gifts at Christmastime
Elizabeth learned to drive in 1945, when she joined the women's branch of the British army. Both she and Winston Churchill's daughter were members of the group, which was called the Auxiliary Territorial Service.  She was a Girl Guide (1937), a Scouting movement for girls and a Sea Ranger (1943), a section of the Girl Guides focused on sailing.
An important innovation during her 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 of Edinburgh, the Queen's Gallery occupied the palace's bomb-damaged private chapel. It was the first time that parts of the palace had been opened to the general public.
 The only time the Queen has had to interrupt an overseas tour was in 1974, during a tour of Australia and Indonesia. She was called back from Australia when a general election was announced suddenly. The Duke of Edinburgh continued the program in Australia, and Elizabeth rejoined the tour in Indonesia.
She has opened Parliament every year except 1959 and 1963, when she was expecting her children Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, respectively.
She went on her first state visit as Princess Elizabeth to South Africa with her mother and father, then King and Queen, from February to May 1947. The tour included Zimbabwe, Bechuanaland, Swaziland and Basutoland (now Lesotho). The Princess celebrated her 21st birthday in Cape Town. Her first state visit as Queen was to Kenya: her father King George VI died, and she acceded the throne during the tour, which had to be abandoned.  Her first Commonwealth tour began on Nov. 24, 1953, and included visits to 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 (70,196 km).
Elizabeth 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. Elizabeth currently has five corgis: Emma, Linnet, Monty, Holly and Willow.  She takes a keen interest in horses and racing. Her first pony, a Shetland called Peggy, was given to her by her grandfather King George V when she was 4 years old. Elizabeth continues to ride at Sandringham, Balmoral and Windsor. The Queen also takes interest in horse breeding. Horses bred at the royal studs over the past 200 years have won virtually every major race in Britain. Elizabeth has about 25 horses in training each season.
As a young girl, Elizabeth acted in a number of pantomimes during World War II, including playing Prince Florizel in Cinderella in 1941. The productions took place every year in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle..
The last and only other British monarch to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee was Queen Victoria in 1897, at the age of 77. At 86, Queen Elizabeth will be the oldest monarch to celebrate this occasion.