1. Elizabeth wasn’t expected to become Queen when she was born. She was third in line to the throne, behind Edward, Prince of Wales (aka King Edward VIII) and her father George, Duke of York (aka Colin Firth in The King’s Speech). But after Edward abdicated and George took the throne in 1936, she became first in line to succeed him.
2. Because of rationing after World War II, Elizabeth’s wedding to Philip in 1947 was a low-budget affair. She used ration coupons to buy material for her wedding dress, and the wedding cake’s ingredients were gifted to the couple.
3. The Queen has written more than 45.000 Christmas cards during her reign. Puts our holiday to-do list into perspective.
4. Queen Elizabeth really, really loves dogs, and specifically Welsh Corgis. She’s owned more than 30 corgis throughout her life, starting with the first which was given to her as an 18th birthday present.
5. As of 9 September 2015, Elizabeth became the longest reigning British monarch in history, surpassing her great great grandmother Victoria’s 63 years.
6. The Queen technically owns all the sturgeons, dolphins and whales in UK waters. Any one of these creatures captured within 3 miles of UK shores can technically be claimed as property of the Crown.
7. She’s way, way ahead of us technology-wise. She sent her first email in 1976, from a British army base.
8. She once demoted a royal footman for giving whiskey to her corgis.
9. She’s kind of a badass. Reportedly, she’s the only British monarch in history who can change a spark plug, having taken a car maintenance course during World War II.
10. And she created a new dog breed—the dorgi, aka a dachshund and corgi cross.
11. The Queen owns all of the swans in England—or technically, all of the UK’s “unmarked mute swans in open water”. There’s a reason why you won’t find roast swan on the Sunday lunch menu.