How much do we really know about the Queen?

Queen Elizabeth II was arguably one of, if not, the most influential figures in the world and a fundamental part of British culture.

Despite being a prominent figure at the forefront of a lot of British activity, we only have limited insight into her life. Interestingly, some of the most famous facts about the Queen may not be true at all.

She owns all the swans in England

Arguably the most famous myth about the Queen is that she owns all of the swans in the UK. The myth also says you can be jailed if you kill one. Whilst this is not necessarily false, it is an exaggerated fact.

In reality, the Queen owns all of the swans in certain parts of the River Thames around Windsor. Every year a swan census takes place. The Queen officially knows the exact number of swans that she can claim ownership over. This was once a largely ceremonial event, but has now become important for wildlife conservation. 

The event is called Swan Upping. Swan uppers count, weigh and measure swans to check their health. The official counter is called the Swan Marker. 

The current official Swan Marker of the Queen is David Barber. Barber never reveals the number of swans owned by the Queen, but he can confirm that it is not all of them in the UK. 

Even though killing one of these swans is not treason, you can receive a hefty £50,000 fine. 

What about the swans that are not in this stretch of the Thames? Well, you are free to claim those for yourself.

The Queen uses her handbag to give secret signals

However, the rumour that the Queen uses her handbags to give secret signals is completely true. 

Royal historian Hugo Vickers said: “It would be very worrying if you were talking to the Queen and saw the handbag move from one hand to the other.”

Moving her handbag from one hand to the other is the Queen’s signal that she is ready to end her conversation; putting her bag on the table signals that she is ready to leave the event entirely.

It is then up to her advisors and security guards to let people down gently by creating an excuse to move the Queen along. 

It is not just handbags that the Queen utilised for her subtle signals. Twisting her ring is an emergency signal used when the Queen wants to exit a situation immediately. This signals to her advisors that they need to act fast and remove her from the situation. ​​ 

The monarch drinks four cocktails a day

Some myths about the monarch remain unconfirmed and we may never know the truth. For years now, rumours have been passed around that the Queen drinks four cocktails every day. Throughout her 70-year-long reign, she has never publicly commented on her alcohol consumption, and neither has anyone else.

Former royal chef, Darren McGrady, did shed some light on the situation, alluding that she does not drink quite so much.

McGrady told CNN: ‘She’d be pickled if she drank that much.

“All I said was she likes a gin and Dubonnet. That’s her favourite drink.”

It is also widely believed that she has a drinking schedule and staggers her alcohol consumption throughout the day–which is not completely unbelievable.

It seems then that, despite her popularity and growing up at the centre of the public eye, there are some things about the Queen that we will never know.

Carol Jeston, age 82 and a life-long fan of the Queen, said: “I think one of the reasons she has had such an impact is because some of these myths make her more relatable to the public. It is funny to think that the Queen, like most of us, enjoys a drink or two.”

Jeston explains that, whilst she can imagine that  living and working in the public eye can be difficult, especially when rumours come to light, that the Queen is lucky all of these are harmless. 

She explained: “I don’t think any of these change our perception of the Queen. She is still our Queen.

“If anything, I feel like I know her better.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

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