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 attends a State Reception held at Government House, Oct. 27, 2011 in Perth, Australia.

intro: 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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quicklist: 1 title: Her Secret Talent text: 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.

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quicklist: 2 title: Her Human Alarm Clock text: The queen wakes to the sound of her personal bagpiper every morning.

quicklist: 3 title: Heady Monikers text: The queen's tiaras have names such as "The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara" or "The Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara."

quicklist: 4 title: Queen Granny text: Grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry don't call the queen "your majesty." To them, she's just "Granny."

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quicklist: 5 title: Her Way, Not the Highway text: While she's driven by a chauffeur in public, the queen does drive herself around the royal family's private estates.

quicklist: 6 title: Keeps on Truckin' text: 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.

quicklist: 7 title: Say Yes to Dress, Again text: 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.

quicklist: 8 title: Pretty in (Bright) Pink text: 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.

quicklist: 9 title: Young Love text: The queen met her future husband, Prince Philip, when she was just 13. media: 16415539 caption: use

quicklist: 10 title: No Passport Necessary text: 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."

quicklist: 11 title: All the Queen's Horses text: The queen, an avid horse racing fan, owns and breeds race horses.

quicklist: 12 title: Her Childhood Nickname text: What do you call a pint-sized Elizabeth? "Lilibet," of course!

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quicklist: 13 title: The Queen Who Almost Wasn't text: 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.

quicklist: 14 title: Crowning Glory text: 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.

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quicklist: 15 title: In the Cards text: The queen excels at the card game solitaire, known in the U.K. as "patience."

quicklist: 16 title: Famous Face text: Long before she was the queen, she was a cover girl. She graced the cover of Time Magazine when she was 3 years old.

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quicklist: 17 title: Canine Companions text: Her favorite dog is the Corgi. She owns several at any given time.

quicklist:18 title: Green Acres text: The queen's home in Scotland is a 49,000-acre working farm.

quicklist: 19 title: Rooms to Spare text: Her main residence, Buckingham Palace, has 775 rooms.

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quicklist: 20 title: Royal Employment text: About 1,200 people work in the royal household.