Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, has died at the age of 96. In commemoration and remembrance of her 70 years at the helm, we take a look back at her life and celebrate some little known facts. 

Queen Elizabeth II was Never Supposed to be Queen

When Princess Elizabeth was born in 1926 it wasn’t expected that she would ever reign. But when her uncle abdicated the throne in 1936, her father became king and she, with no male siblings became set to take the crown. 

Princess Elizabeth Never Attended School

Instead she was taught at home by tutors. In fact, she was taught religion by the archbishop of Canterbury.

She Served in World War II

In 1944 at age 18 she insisted on joining the army and worked as a mechanic for the women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II. During that time she learned to drive, becoming the only citizen of the UK to be allowed to drive without a license. 

Likewise She Never Had a Passport

During her reign British passports were issued in her name, rendering it unnecessary for her to possess one. 

She Purchased the Fabric for her Wedding Dress with Rationing Coupons

The then Princess Elizabeth wed Prince Philip on November 20th, 1947. At the time, Britain was experiencing a financial crisis and the government issued citizens post-war rationing coupons to ensure that each citizen had equal access to food and other goods, including fabric. The soon-to-be queen purchased the fabrics for her fit and flare gown designed by Norman Hartnell with her own rationing coupons. 

She Had Two Unique Nicknames

She got the nickname “Lilabet” when she was little and struggled to pronounce her name and Prince Philip reportedly nicknamed the Queen “cabbage.” According to British biographer Robert Lacey, the nickname may come from the French phrase “mon petit chou” which loosely translates to “my little cabbage.”

The Queen was Awakened Each Morning at 9:00 a.m. by the Royal Bagpiper

It was a tradition started by Queen Victoria in the 1800s. The bagpipes would be played at the queen’s residences for 15 minutes each morning and alerted the monarch that it was time to start the day. 

She is Credited with Creating a Hybrid Corgi

It’s no secret that the Queen loved her corgis and owned more than 30 throughout her lifetime, but did you know that she is responsible for creating “the dorgi” hybrid? It happened when Princess Margaret’s dachshund Pipkin mated with one of the queen’s corgis, creating a new breed. 

Elizabeth II Chose to Keep Her Own Name as Queen 

Since ancient times monarchs have taken on a regnal name (or reign name) when they’ve ascended to the throne. When Elizabeth became queen in 1952, she chose to keep her given name because she felt that it was important to maintain simplicity at such a tumultuous time. 

She Met Prince Philip When She Was Just 8 years Old 

Though they attended many of the same events growing up, they were met officially for the first time at the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece and Prince George, Duke of Kent in 1934. 

She Altered the Royal Family’s Last Name 

Queen Elizabeth II was born with the last name of Windsor, which was adopted by her grandfather in 1917. Prince Philip was born “Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark” but his family was exiled from Greece when he was a baby. When he married Elizabeth in 1947, he had to do away with his foreign titles, become a british citizen and adopt a new surname. Philip chose “Mountbatten” as his last name as it had been the surname of his maternal grandparents. 

When Elizabeth became Queen she was pressured by both her mother and the Prime Minister Winston Churchill to maintain the last name of Windsor, while at the same time facing pressure from her new husband to adopt his last name. 

Ultimately, the royal couple reached a compromise: The combined name of Mountbatten-Windsor would be given to each of their children.