The Queen at 90: Nine fun facts about Elizabeth II

Her Majesty is a keen linguist alongside a prodigious dog breeder and coupon collector

The Queen has owned more than 30 corgis over the course of her reign
(Image credit: Getty)

Despite being one of the most famous nonagenarians in the world, there are still a few facts about The Queen that may prove surprising.

On her 90th birthday, here are nine fun pieces of trivia about Her Majesty, one for every decade of her existence.

En Francais

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Not content with speaking only the "Queen's English", Her Majesty is also fluent in French and often uses the language for audiences and state visits. Most recently she welcomed French President Francois Hollande to Buckingham Palace, ably discussing a variety of weather phenomena in his native tongue.

Under the sea

Thanks to a statute from 1324 that's still valid today, the sturgeons, porpoises, whales and dolphins found in the waters around the UK are all owned by Queen Elizabeth. When a sturgeon is captured within three miles of the UK coastline, the "fishes royal" may be claimed on behalf of the Queen but in practice she refrains from dealing in any type of fishing trade.

Technology pioneer

The Queen almost certainly sent her first email before you, pinging off a private message in 1976 from a British army base. Claims that it was a picture of a cat playing the keyboard have never been verified.

Old dog, new tricks

The Queen introduced a new breed of dog to the world, known as the dorgi, when one of her corgis was mated with a dachshund named Pipkin, which belonged to Princess Margaret. A picture released by Buckingham Palace today shows the Queen with her corgis Willow and Holly and dorgis Vulcan and Candy.

Monarch mechanic

She is reportedly the only British monarch in history who has the requisite training to change a spark plug, after undertaking a car-maintenance course during the Second World War.

What's in a name?

The Duke of Edinburgh is rumoured to use the pet names "sausage" and "cabbage" for the Queen. Her more formal nickname, which is apparently how she was known is her youth, is "Lilibet".

No passport

The Queen does not legally require a passport in order to travel. She can move freely in and out of border controls across the globe because British passports are actually issued in her name. It's not immediately clear what would happen if she tried to sneak her corgis into Australia though.

Coupon collector

During the time of post-war austerity, the Queen thought it was best not to be seen splashing the cash. Therefore in order to pay for the materials from which her wedding dress was made, she collected rationing coupons just like women up and down the country – although unlike women up and down the country, she married her distant cousin Prince Philip in a live radio broadcast to 200 million listeners.

Just handbags

If you're ever in the vicinity of the Queen, be sure to watch where her handbag is placed. The famous accessory never leaves her side, but should it end up on the table or in front of her, that's said to be a signal that she wants the meeting to end and her aides will shortly come and whisk her away.

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