10 little-known facts about Queen Elizabeth II

Official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, following the Queen's coronation in June 1953. (Courtesy photo)

Official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, following the Queen's coronation in June 1953. (Courtesy photo)

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- The United Kingdom is famous for many things - tea, the Beatles, Big Ben and the accent to name a few. But the country is arguably best known for the British monarchy.
For many Americans, the British monarchy, or any monarchy for that matter, brings back European history lessons taught at school and childhood fairytales found in books and portrayed in movies. To some, it may even seem unreal - as if kings and queens are only a thing of the past or fiction. But to citizens of Great Britain, the monarchy is a tradition that serves as an important piece of the country's past, present and future.

On Feb. 6, 1952, while away on a trip, then-Princess Elizabeth received news that her father, King George VI, had passed away and just like that, a princess became a queen. Since accessing the throne, it's fair to say the Queen has lived much of her life in the public eye. Much of that life has been depicted in countless documentaries, films, books, biographies and articles. Below are just a few of the lesser known facts about Queen Elizabeth II.

1. The Queen's real birthday is April 21, but it is celebrated officially in June.

2. Queen Elizabeth II joined the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II.

3. Queen Elizabeth II was not in line to assume the throne originally. Her uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936 to marry an American woman. King Albert, Elizabeth's father, assumed the throne, making Elizabeth the heir to the British monarch.

4. The Queen speaks French fluently.

5. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip became secretly engaged in 1946 but waited to make the formal announcement until she turned 21 the following year.

6. Queen Elizabeth II graced the cover of Time Magazine for the first time in April 1929 when she was just 3.

7. During the Trooping the Colour, a military parade celebrating her birthday, the Queen was shot at. She was unharmed in the incident and it was later found that the gun was loaded with blank ammunition.

8. Queen Elizabeth II purchased material for her wedding gown with ration coupons.

9. Congratulatory messages are sent to U.K. citizens celebrating 100th birthdays and 60th wedding anniversaries on behalf of the Queen.

10. Very intune with technology, the Queen launched the British Monarch's official website in 1997. Since then, other official social media pages have been launched.

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