Here are ten things you didn't know Her Majesty the Queen, according to Craig Brown.
- As part of the Palace’s latest modernisation drive, the Queen takes tea with Ant and Dec on every second Tuesday in the month.
Over tea and a choice of sandwiches, the chirpy TV hosts inform her of all the latest developments in popular culture.
‘At our last meeting, she was intrigued to learn about Kim Kardashian, Little Mix and Game Of Thrones,’ says Dec.
Each session is followed by a brief tick-in-the-box test, in which she is allowed to turn to her Private Secretary for assistance.
‘Her Majesty passed her last questionnaire with flying colours,’ chips in Ant. ‘She thought Kim Kardashian’s husband was Ken Barlow, but that’s a mistake anyone could make.’
- A special committee has been convened with the special task of working out what to do about Her Majesty’s 100th birthday in ten years’ time.
‘The key problem is the telegram,’ explains Assistant Deputy Private Secretary Sir Edward Munke-Ffish, ‘Does she send one to herself? Or, as a nod to austerity, would she be better advised to save money by performing the necessary greetings to the mirror?’
- Her Majesty has annual subscriptions to a number of periodicals, among them Horse & Hound, The Field, Country Life and Kerrang!, the leading magazine for adherents of heavy metal music.
‘She prefers it to Destruct, which she finds a little too specialist,’ explains the Queen’s Master of Musick, Sir Henry Wistleton.
- Every St Swithin’s Day, the Queen performs the ancient ritual of ‘Washing Down the Elders’. This involves pointing a high-velocity water hose at the irate senior citizens of the small county town of Umbrage while they, in turn, shake their fists in her direction.
Over the course of her lengthy reign, HM the Queen has sat for upwards of 50 official portraits by artists including Lucian Freud, Sir Graham Sutherland and Rolf Harris.
Some of these sittings went better than others. Sitting for American artist Jackson Pollock in 1955, she emerged splattered with streaks of vermillion, black and buttercup yellow.
Portrait-related injuries include a sore back after Francis Bacon got her to pose for five hours on a butcher’s slab with her right knee touching her left ear. After posing for Lucian Freud in 1992, she had to endure minor surgery for the removal of stray cactus pins.
The Queen has probably shaken more hands than anyone else in history. She averages 50 a day, rising to 220 a day on her official trips abroad.
‘Over the years, she has developed one of the most consummately skilled grips I’ve ever encountered,’ observes leading sports commentator Barry Wiseman. ‘She could have made a good living as a professional arm wrestler, but sadly she could never spare the time.’
- It is a common misconception, particularly among the young, that the Queen was named after the late Freddie Mercury’s rock group, rather than the other way round.
When the Queen’s youngest son, the present Earl of Wessex, was organising his 1987 TV extravaganza, It’s A Royal Knock-out, he attempted to persuade his mother to compete, dressed up as a banana sundae.
When she refused on grounds of taste, Prince Edward, as he then was, flounced out of her study, barking: ‘I suppose you think you’re better than us!’
In the event, the Queen’s role was taken by the legendary Roger Tonge, famous as Sandy Richardson on TV’s Crossroads.
- The only panel game on which HM the Queen has ever appeared is What’s My Line?, hosted by Eamonn Andrews in 1958.
The panel, consisting of Kenneth Williams, Eamonn Andrews, Coco the Clown and Professor A. J. Ayer, failed to guess Her Majesty’s profession within their allotted number of questions.
Williams came very close when he asked: ‘Are you happy and/or glorious?’ Nevertheless, the Queen’s frank reply — ‘Oh, very much so’ — failed to point them in the right direction.
Consequently, she left the show with a signed certificate declaring her the winner.
- The Queen likes to keep up with technological innovations. Since 2005, the Royal Carriage has been fitted with a PlayStation, adapted for one hand, leaving her free to wave with the other.
Her Majesty has maintained a Twitter account since 2009. She last used it on February 23, to tweet her royal approval of the latest video by Mel C, who has long been her favourite Spice Girl.