The Queen You Don't Know: 20 Surprising Facts About Elizabeth II

PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth II attends a State Reception held at Government House, Oct. 27, 2011 in Perth, Australia.
Simon Santi - Pool/Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II, who celebrates the 60th year of her reign this year, has been in the public eye all her life. And yet she's far from your typical celebrity: she doesn't give media interviews and maintains a public persona often characterized as aloof. But published reports over the years have given some insight to the queen's private life. Below, learn more about what goes on behind closed palace doors along with surprising moments from her personal history.

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1.
Her Secret Talent

Famously reserved in public, the queen may be a regular cut-up in private, reportedly doing surprisingly skilled impressions. But exactly whom she mimics is any commoner's guess -- her inner circle isn't telling.

2.
Her Human Alarm Clock

The queen wakes to the sound of her personal bagpiper every morning.

3.
Heady Monikers

The queen's tiaras have names such as "The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara" or "The Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara."

PHOTO: Prince Harry and Prince William enjoy the atmosphere ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between England and Algeria in Cape Town, South Africa.
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
4.
Queen Granny

Grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry don't call the queen "your majesty." To them, she's just "Granny."

5.
Her Way, Not the Highway

While she's driven by a chauffeur in public, the queen does drive herself around the royal family's private estates.

6.
Keeps on Truckin'

The queen knows more about motor vehicles than just how to drive them; she learned how to fix truck engines during World War II as a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women's branch of the British army.

7.
Say Yes to Dress, Again

Royals can recycle. The queen sometimes wears her outfits more than once in public. On a trip to Australia, the queen was spotted wearing the same dress she wore months earlier to wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

8.
Pretty in (Bright) Pink

One reason royals watchers may have an easy time spotting the queen's wardrobe repeats is because of dresses' memorable colors. She tends to wear brightly-colored dresses, as well as large hats, to stand out from the crowd she draws.

PHOTO: Elizabeth and Philip met when they were 13 and 18, respectively.
AP Photo/Getty Images
Elizabeth and Philip met when they were 13 and 18, respectively.
9.
Young Love

The queen met her future husband, Prince Philip, when she was just 13.

10.
No Passport Necessary

The queen is well-traveled, but she doesn't have a passport. According to the official website of the British monarchy, "As a British passport is issued in the name of Her Majesty, it is unnecessary for The Queen to possess one."

11.
All the Queen's Horses

The queen, an avid horse racing fan, owns and breeds race horses.

PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth was born in 1926.
Popperfoto/Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth was born in 1926.
12.
Her Childhood Nickname

What do you call a pint-sized Elizabeth? "Lilibet," of course!

13.
The Queen Who Almost Wasn't

In her youth, she wasn't always known as the future queen. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary's prominent place in line for the throne was secured only after her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated the crown and was succeeded by Elizabeth's father, King George VI. Elizabeth was 10 at the time.

PHOTO: The Imperial State Crown, worn by Queen Elizabeth II during her speech for the State Opening of Parliament, is carried from the Houses of Parliament in London, England.
Johnny Green/WPA Pool/Getty Images
14.
Crowning Glory

The bejeweled gold crown that the queen donned during her 1953 coronation doesn't actually belong to her. Along with the rest of the collection known as the "Crown Jewels" -- including other crowns and other precious ceremonial objects -- it is property of the state.

15.
In the Cards

The queen excels at the card game solitaire, known in the U.K. as "patience."

PHOTO: Elizabeth graced the cover of TIME at age 3.
TIME
16.
Famous Face

Long before she was the queen, she was a cover girl. She graced the cover of Time Magazine when she was 3 years old.

17.
Canine Companions

Her favorite dog is the Corgi. She owns several at any given time.

18.
Green Acres

The queen's home in Scotland is a 49,000-acre working farm.

PHOTO: A general view of Buckingham Palace on Christmas Day on December 25, 2009 in London, England.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
19.
Rooms to Spare

Her main residence, Buckingham Palace, has 775 rooms.

20.
Royal Employment

About 1,200 people work in the royal household.

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