Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee: 60 facts for 60 years as monarch

07:30 06 February 2012

A photo from 1994 of King George VI with his daughter, the then Princess Elizabeth

A photo from 1994 of King George VI with his daughter, the then Princess Elizabeth

Here are 60 facts released by Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

1. The Queen is the second longest serving monarch after Queen Victoria who reigned for 63 years. Only six kings and queens in British history have reigned for 50 years or more - Victoria, Elizabeth II, George III, James VI of Scotland (James I of England), Henry III and Edward III.

2. The Queen is the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England.

3. Since 1952 the Queen has given royal assent to more than 3,500 Acts of Parliament.

4. Over her reign the monarch has given regular audiences to 12 prime ministers: 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 1997-2007, Gordon Brown 2007-2010, David Cameron 2010 – present.

5. Tony Blair was the first prime minister born during the Queen’s reign. He was born in May 1953 - the month before the coronation.

6. The Queen has attended every opening of Parliament except those in 1959 and 1963, when she was expecting the Duke of York and Earl of Wessex respectively.

7. There have been six archbishops of Canterbury during the Queen’s reign - Geoffrey Fisher, Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggan, Robert Runcie, George Carey and Rowan Williams.

8. There have been six popes during the reign - Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

9. The Queen has received two popes on visits to the UK, John Paul II in 1982 and Benedict XVI in 2010. John Paul II’s visit in 1982 was the first papal visit to the UK for more than 450 years. The Queen has officially visited the Vatican twice - in 1961 visiting John XXIII and in 1980 visiting John Paul II.

10. The monarch is patron of more than 600 charities and organisations, more than 400 of which she has held since 1952.

11. Since 1952, the Queen has conferred more than 404,500 honours and awards.

12. The sovereign has personally held more than 610 investitures.

13. The first investiture of the Queen’s reign took place at Buckingham Palace on February 27, 1952. The first person to be presented was Private William Speakman who received the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Korean War.

14. The monarch has answered around three and a half million items of correspondence.

15. The sovereign has sent more than 175,000 telegrams to centenarians in the UK and the Commonwealth.

16. The Queen has sent almost 540,000 telegrams to couples in the UK and the Commonwealth celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.

17. The monarch and Duke of Edinburgh have sent approximately 45,000 Christmas cards during the last 60 years.

18. The sovereign has given out approximately 90,000 Christmas puddings to staff, continuing the custom of George V and George VI.

19. During the last 60 years, the Queen has undertaken 261 official overseas visits, including 78 state visits, to 116 different countries.

20. Many of the monarch’s official tours were undertaken on the Royal Yacht Britannia. It was launched by the Queen on April 16, 1953 and was commissioned for service on January 7, 1954. It was decommissioned in December 1997. During this time, Britannia travelled more than a million miles on royal and official duties.

21. Britannia was first used by the sovereign when she embarked with Philip on May 1, 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 August 9, 1997 for a visit to Arran in Scotland.

22. During her reign the Queen has made many visits to her major realms - countries where she is head of state. She has visited Australia 18 times, Canada 22 times, Jamaica 6 times and New Zealand 10 times.

23. The Queen’s official visits have ranged from the Cocos Islands, 5.4 square miles with a population of 596, to China, 3.7 million square miles with a population of 1.34 billion.

24. Unusual live gifts given to the monarch on foreign tours include: two tortoises presented in the Seychelles in 1972; a seven-year-old bull elephant called Jumbo from the president of Cameroon in 1972 to mark the Queen’s silver wedding anniversary; and two black beavers presented after a visit to Canada.

25. The only time the sovereign has had to interrupt an overseas tour was in 1974 during a visit to Australia and Indonesia when she was called back to the UK from Australia when a general election in the UK was suddenly called. The duke continued with the programme in Australia and the Queen rejoined the tour in Indonesia.

26. The sovereign’s first Commonwealth tour as Queen began on November 24, 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.

27. The Queen made a historic visit to the Republic of Ireland in May 2011, the first visit by a British monarch since Irish independence.

28. There have been 102 inward state visits from 1952 to the end of 2011, up to and including Turkey in November 2011.

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

30. 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 official visits.

31. The Queen has attended 56 Royal Maundy services in 43 cathedrals during her reign. A total of 6,710 people have received Maundy Money in recognition of their service to the church and their communities.

32. The monarch 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.

33. The sovereign has attended 35 Royal Variety Performances.

34. The monarch has launched 21 ships during her reign.

35. Since it was launched to mark the Queen’s golden jubilee in 2002, the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service has been awarded to more than 750 voluntary organisations across all four countries in the UK. Winners of the award have included scout groups, community radio stations, groups who care for the elderly and environmental charities.

36. During the past 60 years almost one and a half million people have attended garden parties at Buckingham Palace or the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Queen ended debutante presentation parties in 1958.

37. The Queen has sat for 129 portraits during her reign.

38. The first royal walkabout took place during the visit by the monarch and Philip 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.

39. 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 Charles as Prince of Wales.

40. 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, 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 royal residence had been opened to the general public. The Queen’s Gallery was redeveloped and reopened in 2002 for the golden jubilee.

41. 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 monarch issued. In 2002 the sovereign made her 50th Christmas broadcast and in 2004 she issued her first separate broadcast for members of the British armed forces.

42. In 1953, the monarch 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 pre-recorded broadcast took place in 1960 to allow transmission around the world. In 2006 the Christmas broadcast was first made available to download as a podcast.

43. The sovereign launched the British monarchy’s official website in 1997. In 2007 the official British Monarchy YouTube channel was unveiled, swiftly followed by a Twitter site (2009), Flickr page (2010) and Facebook page (also 2010).

44. The Queen hosts theme days and receptions to promote and celebrate aspects of British culture. Recent examples from 2011 include a reception for young people and the performing arts and for explorers. Other themes have included publishing, broadcasting, tourism, emergency services, maritime, music, young achievers, British design and pioneers.

45. In an average year, the monarch will host more than 50,000 people at banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and garden parties at Buckingham Palace. The sovereign also hosts more than 8,000 people each year at garden parties and investitures at Holyroodhouse, during Holyrood Week.

46. The Queen was born at 17 Bruton Street, London, W1, on April 21, 1926, was christened on May 29, 1926 in the private chapel at Buckingham Palace and was confirmed on March 28, 1942 in the private chapel at Windsor Castle.

47. The monarch learnt to drive in 1945.

48. With the birth of 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.

49. The monarch’s real birthday is on April 21, but it is celebrated officially in June.

50. During the silver jubilee year, the Queen toured 36 counties in the UK and Northern Ireland, starting in Glasgow on May 17. During her golden jubilee year she toured 35 counties beginning in Cornwall on May 1.

51. 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 her golden jubilee year was to Jamaica, New Zealand and Australia.

52. The monarch has 30 godchildren.

53. The sovereign 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. The Queen currently has three corgis - Monty, Willow and Holly.

54. The Queen also introduced a new breed of dog known as the dorgi when one of her corgis was mated with a dachshund named Pipkin which belonged to Princess Margaret.

55. The Queen and duke have been married for 64 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.

56. The monarch’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, using ingredients given as a wedding gift by Australian Girl Guides.

57. The wedding of the Queen and Philip was the first and so far the only time in British history that the heir presumptive to the throne had been married.

58. The monarch’s racing colours are a purple body with gold braid, scarlet sleeves and black velvet cap with gold fringe. They were adopted from those used by Edward VII; one of his most successful horses was called Diamond Jubilee.

59. Queen Victoria was the last and to date the only British monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee. The Queen, who will be 85 on Accession Day in 2012, will be the oldest monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee. Queen Victoria was 77 when she celebrated hers in 1897.

60. Only three heads of state have celebrated diamond jubilee reigns during the Queen’s tenure. King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand celebrated 60 years on the throne in 2006; the former Sultan of Johor, now part of Malaysia, celebrated his in 1955; and the late Emperor Hirohito of Japan marked his in 1986.

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