She is the ultimate quiet diplomat. So on the occasion of her 90th birthday, London’s diplomats were quick to fill social media with their best wishes to the Queen and photos of their memorable meetings with her. And she had lunch with the most powerful man on earth, President Obama, who later said she was one of his “favourite people”.
For each new head of mission, presenting the Queen with their credentials at Buckingham Palace is a career highlight, and all routinely praise her warmth and her exceptional knowledge of foreign affairs.
Whether she’s meeting heads of state, cheering on her horses or spending time with her great-grandchildren (who call her “Gan-Gan”), Britain’s longest-serving monarch continues to have the energy that would put someone half her age to shame. As Her Majesty enters her 10th decade, Embassy reveals 10 amazing facts about a most remarkable monarch:
- The Queen received the very first Ambassador of her reign, the Ambassador of Mexico, Francisco A. de Icaza, on 11 March 1952, a month after she was proclaimed Queen. She has since received more than 3200 heads of mission.
- The Queen has visited 117 countries without a passport, travelling around 1.7 million km, making her the most well travelled monarch in history. She has a special place in her heart for the countries of the Realm, where she is head of state. She has visited Canada 22 times, Australia 16 times and New Zealand 10 times.
- Over last 63 years, the Queen has undertaken 266 official overseas visits, but not Greece as it exiled the Duke of Edinburgh as a child.
The Queen’s legendary garden parties have been attended by more than 1.45 millionnpeople (including quite a few diplomats!)
- The Queen is the only person in the UK who is allowed to drive without a number plate on her state vehicle.
- During her reign, the Queen has seen 12 Prime Ministers walk through the door at Number 10 and 12 US presidents enter the White House. There have also been seven popes during her time on the throne.
- She is the only living head of state to have served in the Second World War.
- The Queen was the first head of state to send an email, from an army barracks in 1976.
- The Queen has received a number of unusual gifts, including two tortoises given to her during a tour of the Seychelles in 1972, a seven-year-old bull elephant called Jumbo, presented by the president of Cameroon in 1972, and two black beavers during a royal visit to Canada.
- The Queen has owned more than 30 corgis during her reign.