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Top 10 Facts About Queen Elizabeth II
Princess Elizabeth of York never had the intention to become Queen, but she is now Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and its neighboring kingdoms and territories. In addition, she is the head of the Commonwealth of Nations. Her reign has lasted more 60 years, giving her the title of the longest-ruling monarch in British history. Just this past April 2019, the Queen celebrated her 93rd birthday and continues to make history till this day. Written below are the top 10 facts about Queen Elizabeth II that show a glimpse into her life.

Top 10 Facts About Queen Elizabeth II

  1. Born Princess Elizabeth of York and third in line to ascend the throne, Queen Elizabeth II never imagined assuming the responsibilities and obligations of sovereignty, up until February 6, 1952, when Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, died of lung cancer. The unexpected turn of events started in December 1936 when the Queen’s father became King after his brother King Edward VIII abdicated his title for love. Consequently, the Queen became heir presumptive. Her father did not declare her heir apparent due to the possibility of a male heir. On June 2, 1953, Queen Elizabeth II had her coronation in Westminster Abbey.
  2. Queen Elizabeth II along with other members of the Royal Family have an extensive background in philanthropy. Presently, more than 3,000 organizations around the globe state a member of the Royal Family as their patron or president, with Queen Elizabeth II serving as patron for 510 of those British charities alone. The charities range from large organizations like the British Red Cross to smaller organizations like Reedham Children’s Trust and the regiments of the Armed Forces. Royal patronages, visits and involvement with charities help bring much-needed awareness and publicity for important social causes. The Queen’s benefaction holds the most significance and is the most sought after.
  3. In 2012, the Queen assisted charities she patrons raise a total of £1,4 billion, according to Charities Aid Foundation’s research Charities Aid Foundations. This fact solidifies her as one of the world’s leading charity supporters. In 2015, after news broke out regarding the devasting earthquake that struck Nepal, Her Majesty donated her personal money to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s request to help and support the victims of this catastrophe. The country of Nepal holds a special place in the Queen’s heart because it houses The Royal Gurkha Rifles, an organization of troops run by Prince Charles, its Colonial in Chief. The Royal Gurkha Rifles fight for the United Kingdom but were not born in the country.
  4. The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust is an organization that Queen Elizabeth II is a patron of and Prince Harry is the president. It is an organization that works with 53 Commonwealth countries to enact positive social change initiated by impactful youth. The organization’s mission statement reflects on its efforts in discovering and funding individuals who attain bright ideas that solve local problems in education, health, the environment and sport. The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust supports those who have started their own nonprofit organizations, along with those who oversee projects that help others. Currently, The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and CAMA have partnered to help reduce poverty and inequality among young girls in Africa by helping them receive education and giving them leadership positions within their communities.
  5. Another point on the list of top 10 facts about Queen Elizabeth II is that the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust has partnered with Ankit Kawatra’s Feeding India, which is one of the world’s leading youth-run volunteer organizations set to eradicate world hunger. The partnership aims to combat hunger in India with 8,5000 people working together to gather excess food from events, restaurants and hotels in more than 50 cities and deliver it to undernourished people, reaching more than 15,000 individuals every day.
  6. The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is one of the world’s most prestigious and oldest international university networks to date and has for the last 33 years been honored with Her Royal Majesty’s patronage. In fact, she was the first patron of the organization. The Queen has helped the ACU offer Commonwealth scholarships to over 35,000 students throughout the years, which help them make the trip to the United Kingdom or other Commonwealth countries. That is, however, until now; when the Queen has graciously passed down her title to her granddaughter-in-law, The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, along with a few other duties. As the new patron, the Duchess of Sussex has already announced two ACU gender grants that will help fund new learning projects meant to empower female university employees and promote gender equality.
  7. The Queen embraces strides towards modernizing her personal image along with that of the monarchy. For a period of time every summer, Her Majesty welcomes the public to stay in the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the sovereigns since 1837 and also today’s administrative headquarters of the monarch, while she is away and is the first monarch to do so. Queen Elizabeth’s II garden parties, hosted multiple times per summer at Buckingham Palace and once at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, also help in the Queen’s plan to meet a cross-section of British society and thank them for their good deeds. This charitable event, with approximately 8,000 people, allows the Queen to become familiar with Britain’s everyday citizens instead of the usual diplomats at the Palace.
  8. Throughout her Majesty’s reign, digital communication platforms have made many advancements. In 1953, the Queen’s coronation was the first to broadcast live from Westminster Abbey. In 1997, the Royal Family started their own website and later created their own Twitter account (@BritishMonarchy) in 2014. The Queen’s very first tweet was during her visit to the London Science Museum in 2014, and in keeping with tradition, the page shared the Queen’s very first Instagram post (@theroyalfamily) at her most recent visit to the Science Museum in 2019. She posted an archive picture addressed to her great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert, and written by Charles Babbage, the world’s first accredited computer pioneer.
  9. Over the course of her reign, Queen Elizabeth II witnessed 13 prime ministers enter into power. The first prime minister she worked with was Winston Churchill. The Queen has worked with about a quarter of the United States’ presidents throughout history as well.
  10. On February 6, 2017, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee or 65th year on the throne. She is the only monarch to ever celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee, surpassing her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, in September of 2015. Queen Victoria was the previous longest-reigning monarch at 63 years. There were royal gun salutes administered at Green Park and the Tower of London, along with eight new commemorative coins issued by The Royal Mint in honor of the Queen’s reign.

These top 10 facts about Queen Elizabeth II only reinforce the fact that Her Majesty is one of the world’s most commemorated public figures in history. There are three generations of heirs lined up for the monarch after her reign including her son, Charles, Prince of Wales; her grandson, William, Duke of Cambridge; and her great-grandson, George, Prince of Cambridge. The legacy of the Royals will continue to create history for years to come due to Queen Elizabeth’s II influential reign over Britain.

– Jillian Rose
Photo: Flickr

Lenny Henry
On June 12, a knighthood was announced for comedian and co-founder of Comic Relief, Lenny Henry, in Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday Honors for his services to drama and charity.

Henry has been involved in several causes to benefit AIDS & HIV research, disaster relief, poverty, human rights and health. In addition, he has worked with Red Nose Day for Comic Relief for almost thirty years. He is also noted as a Comic Relief Trustee and earned a CBE from the Queen in 1999.

The comedian has helped break Comic Relief fundraising records with his campaigns for greater diversity in the United Kingdom. Henry said that he wanted to dedicate this honor to the people who have donated to Comic Relief since he has been involved.

“Every person who has helped us raise one billion euros, and for everyone who works at Comic Relief, this is for you, too,” Henry said.

According to Comic Relief, Henry is admired greatly by the British population and has helped decrease racism in the United Kingdom.

“Lenny is one of Britain’s best known and best loved personalities who has had a crucial influence on the creation of black-centered comedy and characters,” Comic Relief said.

The charity added that he is seen as a figurehead for Comic Relief, claiming that the success of the charity would not be possible without the support of celebrity friends like Henry. The Chief Executive of Comic Relief, Kevin Cahill, said that Henry is very closely associated with Comic Relief. He said that Henry seems determined to raise money and create change to end extreme poverty.

“You can’t think of Comic Relief without thinking of Lenny Henry,” Cahill said. “Everyone at Comic Relief is incredibly proud that Lenny’s work as an entertainer and passionate worker for charity [is] being recognized, and we congratulate him on his knighthood.”

Comic Relief is an organization that seeks to improve disease, mental health stigmas, sexual trafficking and exploitation, domestic violence, education and more. With Comic Relief’s help, more than one million children in developing countries have an education. Additionally, three million people who were affected with HIV in Africa have received aid from Comic Relief, and more than six million African people were protected from Malaria.

Henry has helped organize many of the life-saving tactics provided by Comic Relief, henceforth receiving the great honor from the Queen. Henry said that this accomplishment is an incredible achievement.

“It is a wonderful thing. My family [is] absolutely chuffed and my friends have not stopped congratulating me. I’d like the thank everyone for being so generous and so kind. It is an extraordinary thing, and I am absolutely thrilled,” Henry said.

The Queen’s Birthday Honors are given to those who have achieved prestigious and amazing success for the betterment of the country. Many of this year’s Knighthoods have been given to doctors of science, medicine and education, and Henry is one of 29 Knights Bachelor recipients.

Henry is very devoted to Comic Relief and thanks everyone who has helped.

“This is not just for me, this is for everyone who has done something for Comic Relief,” he said.

For more information about Henry’s work with Comic Relief, visit the charity’s website. For additional information about The Queen’s Birthday Honors, visit gov.uk.

Fallon Lineberger

Sources: Comic Relief, Comic Relief, Comic Relief, Comic Relief, Look to the Stars, UK Government 1, UK Government 2
Photo: Mirror

Star Wars
When dignitaries and heads of state meet one another, the inevitable giving of gifts can be expected, and dreaded. While the notion of diplomatic gift exchanges between countries may hold a certain romantic charm, the gifts themselves rarely hold up to their expected allure. Like receiving a present from a distant relative, what one receives is rarely what one wants but unable to refuse without ruffling feathers.

As the reigning monarch of England for the past 61 years, Queen Elizabeth has received her share of useless gifts. The Economist reports that she has received “pineapples, eggs, a box of snail shells, a grove of maple trees, a dozen tins of tuna and 7kg of prawns”. To belabor the point, at her Diamond Jubilee last year, the queen received a sports shirt, 169,000 square miles on Antarctica henceforth known as Queen Elizabeth Land, and a Lego sculpture of the Tower Bridge.

While none of these items necessarily broke the bank, they illustrate the uselessness of mandatory gift giving between countries. For the woman who has everything, giving her perishable goods doesn’t help.

Since his election in 2008, President Obama has also received numerous trinkets including a Hermes golf bag and a “large silver bowl with palm tree design” with an estimated value of $3400.

As an explanation for receiving the gift, next to each listed donation on the Federal Register website is the comment, “Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. Government.”

It is high time for refusing gifts out of decorum be reformed.

In contrast to his political successor, President Thomas Jefferson abstained from receiving valuable gifts from foreign dignitaries, save for the occasional book or pamphlet. When he did receive a gift of note, like the several Arabian horses he received from the Tunisian ambassador in 1805, he sold them at a public auction to subsidize the cost of the ambassador’s visit.

When poverty and wealth inequality run rampant throughout the world, it is up to politicians and dignitaries to draw a line and refuse gifts they neither want nor need and instead contribute that wealth towards more noteworthy causes.

Emily Bajet

Sources: Monticello.org, Federal Register, ABC News, Politico