On Thursday, 8 September 2022, UK residents woke up to attend to their daily activities but little did they know that they would be hit by a piece of sad news that would rock the nation.
London streets were buzzing with business activities; Manchester was preparing earnestly to face Sociedad after being condemned to the Europa League, but the frail Queen lay in bed at the Balmoral Castle.
The health of Queen Elizabeth II suddenly dominated the headlines, with major TV channels pausing all programmes to broadcast live while members of the royal family gathered from far and near.
Barely four months after the death of the Queen’s consort, Prince Philip, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, was ready to join her love on the other side and also tell her predecessors, “I have executed my royal mandate dutifully, preserved the legacy of the British monarchy and served my people well”.
A dark cloud hung over Britain’s royal family, and Buckingham Palace announced at 6:30 p.m. that the Queen had given up the ghost.
As the UK mourns the fall of a giant with many tributes poured from every corner of the world, The Ghana Report presents you with 12 facts you may not know about the well-celebrated and cherished British monarch.
- Queen Elizabeth II was not born in a castle
Her late royal highness was born on 21 April 1926. Although she was the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York — the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) — and the eldest granddaughter of King George V, she was not born in a palace.
Instead, she was born at 17 Bruton Street in the Mayfair neighbourhood of London, in a townhouse that belonged to her Scottish maternal grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore.
The house was demolished in 1937. There is now an office building and a Chinese restaurant on the site.
- She ensured Ghana remained a member of the Commonwealth without breaking ties to join the Soviet Union
Queen Elizabeth II visited the Republic of Ghana from 9 to 20 November 1961 and from 7 to 9 November 1999.
During her 1961 tour, the Queen famously danced with Ghana’s president Kwame Nkrumah at a farewell ball in Accra, which many scholars believe was a symbolic moment in the history of the Commonwealth.
Despite bombings in the capital and fears that Ghana was getting too close to the Soviet Union, the Queen insisted on this tour to make sure that Ghana did not leave the Commonwealth.
- Prince Philip affectionately called her “Cabbage”
While commoners beyond the walls of Buckingham Palace dared not address Elizabeth outside of her royal designations, inside her grandiose abode, she was reportedly known as “Cabbage” during her 74-year marriage to Prince Philip.
In 2006, British biographer and historical consultant on Netflix’s “The Crown,” Robert Lacey, confirmed that the prince often borrowed the name of the green, leafy vegetable to affectionately refer to his wife.
And while some have speculated that the pet name originated from the French phrase “mon petit chou,” which loosely translates to “my little cabbage” or “my little sweetie,” it’s unclear why Prince Philip — her majesty’s third cousin from Corfu, Greece, who she first met at a royal family wedding in 1934 — chose the nutritious-sounding endearment. Nonetheless, it was a testament to their healthy love.
- Her net worth exceeds $500 million
Her Majesty leaves behind over $500 million in personal assets from her 70 years on the throne, which Prince Charles will inherit when he is crowned king.
While it was rumored that her majesty never carried cash in her purses, she reportedly always toted an ironed and folded bank note for church-service collections.
Owing to the fact that her face is plastered on bills in at least 33 countries, money was never an issue for the Queen.
In 2015, it was reported that she even dropped a cool $8 million on a sprawling three-bedroom apartment in Midtown Manhattan.
- Longest-serving monarch
Her late royal highness was UK’s longest-serving monarch after reigning for 70 years.
The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and witnessed enormous social change.
- She never attended school
While her eminence was well-versed in foreign affairs, religion, constitutional history and law, she never attended school — nor did she hold a college degree.
Rather than matriculating at an institution alongside kids her age, the Queen, who during her formative years was known as Princess Elizabeth, and her younger sister Princess Margaret, who died in 2002 at age 71, were home-schooled by Britain’s best tutors — including Henry Marten, who went on to become provost of Eton College.
- The Queen’s first horse was called Peggy
The Queen was given her first horse, a Shetland pony called Peggy, by her grandfather King George V, and has been riding them ever since.
- The Queen has owned over 30 Corgis in total
We know the Queen loves Corgis, but did you know she has owned over 30 across her life?
“Her Majesty the Queen is a fantastic dog trainer,” Roger Mugford, the Queen’s former Corgi trainer, previously told Country Living. “When I visited her, she had nine dogs, and they were incredibly well controlled, well managed and obedient.”
- She was the first female member of the royal family to become a full-time active member of the British Armed Forces.
Previous princesses, such as Princess Patricia of Connaught, had served as the honorary colonel-in-chief of a military regiment, but the future Queen Elizabeth II assumed a more active role during the Second World War. In 1945, she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service as a second subaltern and learned to drive and service vehicles. Five months later, she was promoted to junior commander. On Victory in Europe Day, she joined the street parties in London, inconspicuous in her military uniform. As the monarch, the Queen was head of the British Armed Forces.
- She promised to devote her life to public service on her 21st birthday.
In 1947, the future Queen Elizabeth II participated in her first overseas tour, travelling to South Africa and what is now Zimbabwe with her parents and younger sister, Princess Margaret. Princess Elizabeth celebrated her 21st birthday during the tour. In a radio broadcast from Cape Town, she committed herself to a lifetime of public service devoted to the Commonwealth, stating, “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
- She was Head of a Commonwealth of 54 nations.
The Queen’s father, King George VI, was the first monarch to be formally styled as Head of the Commonwealth. The Queen made her role as Head of the Commonwealth a priority throughout her reign, attending almost every Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and travelling extensively throughout the Commonwealth. Today, the Commonwealth comprises 54 independent nations, including 14 Commonwealth Realms, such as Canada, where the Queen is head of state. The relationship between the royal family and the Commonwealth will continue into the next reign. At the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth leaders agreed that the Queen’s eldest son and heir, Prince Charles, will be the next Head of the Commonwealth.
- She was the most well-travelled monarch in history.
The Queen’s parents and grandparents travelled extensively in the British Empire and then the Commonwealth, but the Queen held the record for the most countries visited by an individual monarch: more than 120 countries on six continents. The Queen visited Canada more than any other country outside the United Kingdom, having undertaken 23 official Canadian royal tours between 1951 and 2010.