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The Queen

An A-Z of the historic reign of Elizabeth II

A is for Apollo 11, the craft which helped put a man on the moon in 1969. The Queen sent a message of congratulations on the historic event and during her long reign she has also met several pioneering astronauts including Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.


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Queen Elizabeth II whose record breaking reign began on February 6th 1952


B is for Blackpool and for Bolton Wanderers, the two teams which competed in the first FA Cup final attended by The Queen. She was in the Royal Box at Wembley in 1953, at the start of her record breaking reign, for the game known to history as the Matthews final after Stanley Matthews who was knighted by the Queen in 1965.

C is Clogau St David’s mine in Wales where the gold for The Queen’s wedding ring was produced. Throughout her 63 years and counting on the throne, she has worn many famous jewels but this simple band, made from the nugget of gold used for several royal wedding rings, is surely the most sentimental and personally important.

D is for Dubonnet and gin, the drink The Queen is most likely to be toasting her record breaking achievement with. Her preferred tipple was revealed by her cousin, Margaret Rhodes.

E is for email – The Queen sent the very first one back in 1976 before she’d even celebrated her Silver Jubilee. She sent her first tweet in October 2014 at an event at the Science Museum in London and the British Monarchy Twitter account now has 1.25 million followers – and quite possibly a lot more as people around the world look for information about The Queen’s record breaking reign.

F is for French, a language often used by The Queen during her sixty three years and counting as monarch. She is fluent in the language, having learned it from French and Belgian governesses while growing up, and has used it for audiences and on State Visits.

G is for the Gillick Portait, the name of the first image of The Queen designed to go on coins after her accession. It was created by Mary Gillick who chose to portray the new monarch with a laurel wreath in her hair. In 2015, the fifth portrait of The Queen to be used on coins was revealed. The new portrayal, by Jody Clark, will join three others still in circulation.

H is for Hardy Amies, the famous fashion designer who began creating clothes for The Queen around the time her epic reign started. Other famous names to dress the Monarch over the past 63 years include Norman Hartnell and now Angela Kelly who has been her Senior Dresser since 2002. Earlier this year, Valentino revealed he had always wanted to design an outfit for The Queen.

I is for the Irish Republic – The Queen made history when she became the first British monarch to visit the country since independence. During her time there in 2011 she laid a wreath in memory of those who died fighting for independence. Her visit was hailed a success and in 2014 she welcomed the current Irish President, Michael D Higgins, on a State Visit to Britain.

J is for John Paul II who was met The Queen at Buckingham Palace in 1982 during his historic trip to the UK. He was the first Pope to visit England in over 450 years. There have been seven pontiffs during The Queen’s long reign and she met the current Pope, Francis, during a visit to the Vatican in 2014.


The Queen on a visit to Canada in 1957

K is for Kotuku, the name by which The Queen is known in the Maori language. The word means ‘the white heron’.  Elizabeth II has visited New Zealand ten times in her long reign, one of hundreds of overseas visits she has made in her reign.

L is for Landau, the name of one of the horses which completed a famous double for The Queen at Royal Ascot just two years into her historic reign. It won the Rous Memorial Stakes on the same day, June 18th 1954, as another of her horses, Aureole, claimed victory in the Hardwicke Stakes. The Queen’s love of racing has been a constant throughout her record breaking reign.

M is for maternity leave which The Queen took twice during her rule. She became the first British monarch to become a parent while reigning since Victoria when, in 1960, she gave birth to Prince Andrew. She completed her family with the arrival of Prince Edward in 1964.

N is for ninety seven, the number of State Visits undertaken by The Queen in her historic reign. The most recent was a trip to Germany in 2015.

O is for official opening for on the day she makes history The Queen insists it’s business as usual and she will officially open the Borders Railway in Scotland. She will first be seen on her historic day in Edinburgh before taking a steam trip ride with the Duke of Edinburgh along thirty miles of the new line.

P is for Prime Ministers of which there have been twelve and counting in The Queen’s long reign. Elizabeth II is also the first monarch to receive a female Premier following the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979, just after the first major milestone of her reign, her Silver Jubilee. The Queen attended Baroness Thatcher’s funeral in 2013 – the only other Prime Minister to receive that honour was Sir Winston Churchill.


The Queen with her current Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Q is for Queen’s Gallery which opened ten years into the reign of Elizabeth II. It is the brainchild of Prince Philip and allowed members of the public access to Buckingham Palace for the first time to see items from the Royal Collection.

R is for roads for there have been 237 in the country named after Queen Elizabeth during her long reign. And she is way ahead of Victoria in that tally – the second longest reigning monarch in British history has 153 streets named after her.

S is for Susan, the dog from whom many of the corgis which have surrounded The Queen in her historic reign are descended. Susan was The Queen’s first corgi and became her pet in 1944.

T is for Theodora of Greece, the princess who is the youngest of The Queen’s godchildren. Elizabeth II has thirty godchildren in total and was sponsor to two of them alone in the first year of her epic reign. Among the others who call The Queen godmother are Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia, Viscount Linley and Earl Spencer, brother of Diana, Princess of Wales.

U is for umbrellas which The Queen has used many times in her long reign. To ensure that people can still see her even when the heavens open, she has specially made clear umbrellas with a colour trim matched to her outfit, ready at every public engagement she attends.

V is for HMS Vanguard which she launched in 1944 while still Princess Elizabeth – it is the first of dozens of ships launched by The Queen. The first to receive the royal send off in her reign was the Royal Yacht Britannia.

W is for waxworks – during her long reign there have been twenty three wax versions of The Queen made and displayed at the London landmark, Madame Tussauds.

X is for X Factor of which The Queen is said to be a fan. The claim was made in 2011 by Mary Byrne, a former contestant on the show, after she performed for the royal guests on their visit to Dublin. She said The Queen had mentioned she watched the programme. Other TV shows Elizabeth II is said to have enjoyed during her long reign include Downton Abbey and Last of the Summer Wine.

Y is for Yacht and specifically the Royal Yacht Britannia which The Queen used for many years for official engagements and private holidays. The first time she used it in her reign was May 1 1954 at Tobruk and the last was August 9 1997 on a visit to Arran. The day it was decommissioned is one of the few times in her long reign that she has cried in public.

Z is for zoos around the UK which, during The Queen’s long reign, have received several unusual arrivals as she asks them to look after animal gifts presented to her during tours. Among the animals she has given to zoos are a pair of sloths, a black beaver and a jaguar.


Photo credit:   Liz SmithLibrary and Archives Canada and Number 10  via Flickr