Queen Elizabeth II may be 92-years-old and the helm of the most famous family in the world, but she’s made some revolutionary changes in her time. Here, we look back on 9 times the Queen was a complete…well, queen!
Some people think of the Royal Family as inaccessible, stiff and removed from the pressures of the real world. Queen Elizabeth may be one of the most important women in the world, but she is human just like the rest of us – and balances her role as a strong, influential monarch with her other roles as a wife, mother and grandmother far more thoroughly than you’d realise.
1. She’s thrifty
Queen Elizabeth doesn’t take her lifestyle for granted. She’s practical and smart about where her funds are spent, and she’s not afraid to cut costs where she sees fit. Despite the most recent Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reportedly setting the family back a whopping AUD$56 million, when the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh wed back in 1923, she did her own hair and makeup on the day and even paid for her wedding dress using war ration coupons to purchase the material required to make her ivory silk gown.
2. She’s an eco-warrior
That same economical mentality continues today with her Majesty – as she often eats leftover food and is proactive about the environment, turning off the lights in the palace to save electricity. She also declared war on plastic in the palace, banning plastic straws, bottles and bags from all the royal estates, after being inspired by a David Attenborough documentary on conservation.
3. She's a feminist
Empowering women is something Her Majesty holds dear to her heart. She was in support of the end to the rule of male primogeniture (scrapping the rule of male succession in preference of birth order), so young royals like Prince Louis wouldn’t take preference over Princess Charlotte in the line to throne.
Queen Elizabeth also hosted the first women-only event at Buckingham Place, called “Women of Achievement” in 2004, honouring contributions women have made to society from all walks of life.
She also raised eyebrows when she reportedly drove Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah around her Scottish Balmoral estate - despite the fact that women were not permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia at the time. The Prince was said to be happy with the arrangement, but not so happy with the Queen’s driving skills… apparently she’s got a right royal lead foot!
4. Move over Meghan, she’s the original fashion influencer
Her Majesty has become a bit of a cultural and fashionable icon in her time. Queen Elizabeth II is known for her perfectly-tailored outfits in bright colours and bold prints – she likes to stand out. British model Agyness Deyn identifies the Queen as a fashion icon, as well as Editor-at-large of Japanese Vogue, Anna Delio. Her country house casualwear was even said to inspire a collection by Dolce & Gabbana in 2008 – think head scarves, plaid and midi-length dresses. So chic!
5. She’s made the royals relatable
The Queen has worked hard on the image of the monarchy, breaking down traditions and letting the public gain access into the lives of the Royal Family. It was Elizabeth who did the first public, televised address to the nation on Christmas day in 1957 and she also pioneered the public walkabouts and informal engagements, showing the public a more relaxed side to the family.
Just like everyone else, the Queen even pays income and capital gains tax, with many of her official residences open to the public in order to help fund their maintenance.
6. She’s social media savvy
Her Majesty brought the monarchy into the 21st century when she supported the launch of the family’s first official website, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Instagram accounts, as well as a YouTube channel which has over half a million subscribers and features clips from weddings, royal engagements, charity work and sporting events.
7. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty
Contrary to misconceptions that the Queen is a protected species, she’s served as a member of the women’s branch of the British Army, the Auxiliary Territorial Service. She learnt to drive during World War II to help with the war effort and also has an engineering mind. Would you believe Her Majesty fixed truck engines during World War II? Incredible.
8. She’s a loving grandmother – and great grandmother
The death of Princess Diana in 1997 rocked the world, and left two little princes without their mum. Elizabeth has always been a source of support to both William and Harry, with the boys revealing her sense of humour and discipline kept them grounded. ‘I say to people: “She’s my grandmother to me first and then she’s the Queen.” Words that come from her, I take very personally and I really appreciate,’ William recently revealed.
And while King Edward was forced to abdicate in 1936 to marry an American divorcee (the scandalous Wallis Simpson), Her Majesty also recently warmly welcomed Meghan Markle into the family, giving permission to Harry to marry his former actress bride. Her Majesty is also a loving great grandmother to Prince George – who affectionately calls her Gan Gan, Princess Charlotte and her newest great-grandchild, Louis.
9. She’s all about the quirky royal traditions
We’ve sung Queen Elizabeth’s praises as a down-to-Earth monarch, but it’s also equally-important to mention the weird and wonderful traditions she insists on observing. For example, every morning she wakes to the sound of her personal bagpiper and can tell if her usual piper is playing, or if it’s indeed someone else filling the role. Nope, can’t relate to that one!