As of Wednesday September 9, 2015 at 5:30 London time, Queen Elizabeth officially becomes the longest reigning monarch in British history, passing her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria who reigned for 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes.
The Queen has chosen not to greet this milestone with any great fanfare. Can’t really blame her- the rain soaked 2012 River boat cruise marking the Diamond Jubilee ended with Prince Philip in the hospital for days (when asked if she’d enjoyed the celebrations she said something like “Enjoy isn’t the right word.”). My take is that there’s already so much hoopla around her, she doesn’t feel the need for more.
Doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun. In honour of the occasion, we’ve rounded up some happily spontaneous quotes and moments from Queen Elizabeth II’s life and are giving a nod to Queen Victoria as well. Because while we often remember Queen Victoria all somber and serious like this…
…we have photographic proof that she wasn’t only about black dresses and admonishing looks. She smiled sometimes! This carriage ride photo was taken in February 1892.
We already know that Queen Elizabeth II can be a hoot herself. Photobomb!
She also enjoyed it when something planned goes a little off in her highly scheduled and formal public life, and that’s something that Prince William’s talked about on occasion.
Take, for example, when she was in Canada in April 1982 for the signing of the Constitution Act and then Justice Minister (and later Prime Minister) Jean Chretien had a broken pen. In his words:
“I picked up the pen and I start to try to sign and it was not working and I said to myself ‘merde’ and she had a big, big laugh,” he said. “Everybody was asking me what the hell you told her that she had such a spontaneous laugh and I refused to say so for years.” (source)
More recently, she was totally into partaking in the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. Sebastian Coe was an instrumental part in helping to make the idea happen, and as he reported in his biography, she had kept it a secret from her family.
He said that when the film cut to the back of the Queen, the Prince of Wales had “exactly the same reaction” as the rest of the world, which was to assume it was “the lady who does the impersonations”.
He added: “But the moment she turned around, and everyone realised, ‘my God! It really is the Queen!’ he began roaring with laughter. As for his sons, they were beside themselves. (source)
Every year she also seems to have a fantastic time watching the Braemar Games underway during her visit to Balmoral, and it always results in photos like this.
She was there again this year and it was no different as you can see in the photo below (our post from 2012 on the Games has even more pictures of hooting and hollering at the Games, if you’d like to see).
And here are a select few quips and quotes:
- To a guest at Buckingham Palace who apologized profusely for stepping on a corgi: “‘It’s her [the dog’s] own fault for being the same colour as the carpet.’
- On a pheasant shoot gone awry: “‘I was picking up after the guns as I always do when a wounded cock pheasant scratched me and drew blood. The detective assumed I’d been shot, threw himself on top of me and began giving me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. I consider we got to know each other rather well.’ ‘
- On being told that her 1977 Silver Jubilee event was going awry “oh good! What fun.”
- After being targeted by egg throwers on a visit to New Zealand “I much prefer my New Zealand eggs for breakfast.”
- To a wellwisher in the crowd who told her she looked just like the Queen” “How reassuring.”
Here’s to Queen Elizabeth wearing the crown for many years to come.