50 facts about The Queen's reign



Buckingham Palace has today released 50 facts about The Queen's reign, covering statistics about The Queen's life and work from official duties, foreign tours and unusual "live" gifts to personal events. This list is intended to be used as a source of reference, and does not aim to emphasise any particular aspects of Her Majesty's reign. The facts were taken from records held at Buckingham Palace.

1. The Queen is the fifth longest serving British* monarch. (She becomes the fourth longest serving monarch on the 21st June, 2002). Only four other kings and queens in British history have reigned for 50 years or more. These are:

Victoria (63 years)

George III (59 years)

Henry III (56 years)

Edward III (50 years)

* James VI of Scotland reigned for 58 years (1567-1625). From 1603 to 1625 he also ruled Britain.

2. Queen Elizabeth II is the fortieth monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England.

3. Since 1952, The Queen has conferred 380,630 honours and awards.

4. The Queen has personally held 459 Investitures.

5. The first Investiture of the Queen's reign took place at Buckingham Palace on 27th February 1952. The first person to be presented was Private William Speakman, of The King's Own Scottish Borderers, who received the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Korean War.

6. The Queen has received around 3 million items of correspondence.

7. Over the course of the reign, well over a million people have attended garden parties at Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse (The Queen ended Presentation Parties in 1958).

8. Since 1952, The Queen has given Royal Assent to 3135 Acts of Parliament.

9. Over the reign, Her Majesty has given regular Tuesday evening audiences to 10 Prime Ministers. They are:

Sir Winston Churchill 1951-55

Sir Anthony Eden 1955-57

Harold Macmillan 1957-63

Sir Alec Douglas-Home 1963-64

Harold Wilson 1964-70 and 1974-76

Edward Heath 1970-74

James Callaghan 1976-79

Margaret Thatcher 1979-90

John Major 1990-97

Tony Blair 1997-present

10. Tony Blair is the first Prime Minister to have been born during The Queen's reign. He was born in early May, 1953 - a month before the Coronation.

11. The Queen is currently patron of 620 charities and organisations, 433 of which she has held since 1952.

12. In 50 years, The Queen has undertaken 251 official overseas visits to 128 different countries.

13. Many of The Queen's official tours were undertaken on the Royal Yacht Britannia. It was launched by Her Majesty on April 16, 1953 and was commissioned for service on January 7, 1954. It was de-commissioned in December, 1997. During this time, Britannia travelled more than a million miles on Royal and official duties.

14. The Royal Yacht Britannia was first used by The Queen when she embarked with the Duke of Edinburgh on the 1st May 1954 at Tobruk for the final stage of their Commonwealth Tour returning to the Pool of London. The last time The Queen was on board Britannia for an official visit was on the 9th August 1997 for a visit to Arran.

15. By the end of 2002, The Queen will have visited Australia 14 times, Canada 20 times, Jamaica 6 times and New Zealand 10 times.

16. The Queen's official visits have ranged from the Cocos Islands, 5.4 square miles with a population of 655, to The Peoples' Republic of China, 3.7 million square miles with a population of 1.25 billion.

17. Unusual live gifts given to The Queen on foreign tours include: two tortoises given to The Queen in the Seychelles in 1972; a seven-year-old bull elephant called "Jumbo" given to Her Majesty by the President of Cameroon in 1972 to mark The Queen's Silver Wedding, and a canary given to The Queen after the State visit to Germany in 1965.

18. The Queen has sent almost 100,000 telegrams to centenarians in the UK and the Commonwealth.

19. The Queen has sent more than 280,000 telegrams to couples in the UK and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding (60 years) anniversary.

20. The Queen's real birthday is on April 21, but it is celebrated officially in June.

21. The Queen has attended 31 Royal Variety performances.

22. The Queen has given 88 State banquets during her reign.

23. The Queen has launched 17 ships during her reign.

24. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have sent about 37,500 Christmas cards during The Queen's reign.

25. The Queen has given out about 75,000 Christmas puddings to staff continuing the custom of King George V and King George VI.

26. The Queen learnt to drive in 1945.

27. The Queen was born at 17 Bruton St, London W1 on the 21st April, 1926, was christened on the 29th May, 1926 in the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace and was confirmed on the 28th March, 1942 in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle.

28. With the birth of Prince Andrew in 1960, The Queen became the first reigning Sovereign to have a child since Queen Victoria, who had her youngest child, Princess Beatrice, in 1857.

29. The Queen has 30 godchildren.

30. The first football match The Queen attended was the 1953 FA Cup Final.

31. The Queen has been at the saluting base of her troops in every Trooping the Colour ceremony since the start of her reign, with the exception of 1955, when a national rail strike forced the cancellation of the parade.

32. The Queen has sat for over 120 portraits during her reign. The most recent was painted in 2001 by Lucian Freud.

33. The first 'Royal walkabout' took place during the visit by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh to Australia and New Zealand in 1970. The practice was introduced to allow them to meet as many people as possible, not simply officials and dignitaries.

34. In 1969 the first television film about the family life of the Royal Family was made, and shown on the eve of the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales.

35. An important innovation during The Queen's 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 new Queen's Gallery occupied the space of 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 new Queen's Gallery is currently being redeveloped and will re-open in May, 2002 for the Golden Jubilee.

36. The only time The Queen has had to interrupt an overseas tour was in 1974 during a tour of Australia and Indonesia. The Queen was called back from Australia when a general election was called suddenly. The Duke of Edinburgh continued the programme in Australia, and The Queen re-joined the tour in Indonesia.

37. The Queen has opened Parliament every year except 1959 and 1963, when she was expecting Prince Andrew and Prince Edward respectively.

38. The Queen's first Commonwealth tour began on 24 November 1953, and included visits to Canada, 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.

39. The Queen has made a Christmas Broadcast to the Commonwealth every year of her reign except 1969, when a repeat of the film 'Royal Family' was shown and a written message from The Queen issued.

40. In 1953, The Queen made the first Christmas Broadcast from overseas, (rather than from the UK), broadcasting live from New Zealand. The first televised broadcast was in 1957, made live. The first prerecorded broadcast took place in 1960 to allow transmission around the world.

41. History was made in 1982 when Pope John Paul II visited Britain, the first Pope to do so for 450 years. The Queen, Titular Head of the Church of England, received him at Buckingham Palace.

42. The Queen has attended 46 Royal Maundy services in 35 cathedrals during her reign. A total of 5,100 people have received Maundy Money in recognition of their service to the Church and their communities.

43. During the Silver Jubilee year, The Queen toured thirty-six counties in the UK and Northern Ireland, starting in Glasgow on the 17th May.

44. The Queen's first foreign tour of the Silver Jubilee year was a visit to Western Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea. The first foreign tour of The Queen's Golden Jubilee year is to Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia.

45. The Queen 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. Her Majesty currently has four corgis - Pharos, Swift, Emma and Linnet.

46. The Queen also introduced a new breed of dog known as the "dorgi" when one of Her Majesty's corgis was mated with a dachshund named Pipkin which belonged to Princess Margaret. There have been 8 dorgis - Tinker, Pickles, Chipper, Piper, Harris, Brandy, Cider and Berry.

47. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh have been married for 54 years. They were married on November 20, 1947 in Westminster Abbey. The Queen's wedding dress was designed by Norman Hartnell and was woven at Winterthur Silks Limited, Dunfermline, in the Canmore factory, using silk that had come from Chinese silkworms at Lullingstone Castle.

48. The Queen's wedding ring was made from a nugget of Welsh gold which came from the Clogau St David's mine near Dolgellau. The official wedding cake was made by McVitie and Price Ltd, using ingredients given as a wedding gift by Australian Girl Guides.

49. The Queen has laid her wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday every year of her reign, except in 1959, 1961, 1963, 1968, 1983 and 1999 when she was either pregnant or overseas on an official visit.

50. There have been five Archbishops of Canterbury during The Queen's reign (Archbishops Geoffrey Fisher, Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggan, Robert Runcie and George Carey).

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