5 Things You Didn't Know About Queen Elizabeth

On this day in 1952, King George VI of Great Britain and Northern Ireland died in his sleep. Princess Elizabeth, the oldest of the king’s two daughters and next in line to succeed him was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953, at age 27. Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about the longest-reigning British monarch....

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She Celebrates Her Birthday Twice a Year The Queen's actual date of birth is April 21, 1926, but it is officially celebrated on June 8. The royal tradition of having two birthdays began in 1748 with King George II, who was born in November and wanted to hold a large public celebration. However, the weather that time of year would have made that difficult. As part of Queen Elizabeth’s birthday celebration, an enormous parade is held, and the Royal Air Force performs an aerial display.

Princess Elizabeth Served During World War II During the second world war, it was suggested that the princesses be taken to Canada to ensure their safety. However, Elizabeth turned 18 in 1944 and was determined to contribute to the country’s war effort. She served as a mechanic and truck driver in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service.  She is still the only woman in the royal family to have served in the armed forces.

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Humor Will Be Banned From British Television After Her Death It’s one of those strange but true things; humor is banned on British television for 12 days after the queen dies. Once the BBC announces her death, it will be airing documentaries about the life of the queen and cannot show anything that is humorous until after the funeral. Reportedly, the BBC keeps black suits and other appropriate clothing available, so newscasters can change quickly when the need arises.

She Owns All The Swans That Swim in UK Waters As early as the 12th century, the British monarchy laid claim to "all mute swans" in the country, according to the official royal family website. Back then, the birds were considered a delicacy. Today, the Queen doesn't eat those swans, but she technically still owns them. Every year, the Queen's Swan Marker leads a multi-day census called the Swan Upping to count the birds and check up on their health. Plus, thanks to 1324 statute, the queen can also claim ownership of all "fishes royal" — that means any sturgeon, dolphins, whales, and porpoises that reside in the waters around the UK.

She Doesn’t Need a Passport or Driver’s License Because Elizabeth II is the head of state of the United Kingdom, she has traveled to more than 115 countries and has made hundreds of state visits. Because passports are issued in her name, she doesn’t need one when she travels. In addition, she doesn’t have a driver’s license because those too are issued in her name.