As Queen Elizabeth II turns 88, there’s a lot to look forward to for the Queen of Britain and the Commonwealth.
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Although it has been confirmed that Her Majesty has begun to hand over more responsibilities to Princes Charles, William, and Harry, the youthful Queen is still active and heavily involved in day to day life in the UK.
The Chelsea Flower Show, Trooping the Colour, and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh’s birthday celebrations, will all feature in her calendar over the next few months, and there’s no slowing down for the head of the British monarch.
To celebrate this active and lively royal’s birthday, ! Online pick our five favourite reasons why Queen Elizabeth II is great at 88.
The Queen is still a huge fan of horse riding:
Queen Elizabeth II is an avid horse fan, with a passion for riding but also knowledge of equestrian matters that rivals the professionals who manage her 25 or so animals. Last spotted horse riding at the beginning of April, the Queen always wears suitable riding gear for her jaunts around the grounds of Windsor Castle, and was last snapped wearing jodhpurs and a brightly-coloured silk scarf of which she favours when riding. HM is also still a regular at Ascot where her horses compete, and she is expected at this year’s Royal Windsor Horse Show in May.
2) HM likes to hang out with celebrities:
Dame Helen Mirren won an Oscar for portraying the Queen during the days following the death of Princess Diana, and earlier this year she was the guest of honour when Queen Elizabeth II held a gala for stars of the stage and screen. Joining Dame Helen were Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Uma Thurman, Joan Collins and Sir Roger Moore, along with Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.
“I am genuinely always astounded by her aura, her twinkle, her presence. It never fails to surprise me, and again it’s what everyone says when they meet her — it was what overwhelmed me the first time I met her”, Dame Helen said of meeting the Queen, who handpicked ten of her favourite celebrities, including Dame Helen, to meet before they moved into the ballroom with the rest of the guests.
3) Her acting debut was at the London 2012 Olympics:
It was the 2012 London Olympics’ best kept secret. As Daniel Craig’s James Bond strode down a corridor at Buckingham Palace, no-one could quite believe it would really be HM who turned around. But it was, and with a “Good evening, Mr Bond”, the Queen made her acting debut before the nation. The unlikeliest Bond girl in history, the fun-natured stunt took the royal family by surprise as her family, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, chuckled as the Queen appeared to parachute her way into the Olympics Stadium (it was a stunt double).
“She got it in one take. That’s what she does, and she does it very well. She is a professional”, said the BBC’s director of Drama Production.
4) She made television magic with the BBC:
After making her acting debut, the following year the royal made a moment of television magic happen as she visited the new BBC studios in London. The studios have glass-plated windows behind the newsreaders so that viewers can see what is going on in the newsroom. And the Queen visited just in time to stand in the background between the two presenters, leading to applause and the two newsreaders to jump around in surprise. That same day she also met with Radio 1 DJs including Nick Grimshaw, and made a trip to see the Live Lounge, where she joked with The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue about wearing her wellies to Glastonbury.
5) The Queen possesses a bright and stylish wardrobe:
Queen Elizabeth II may have a specific style which she likes to stick to, but no-one could accuse the royal of being boring. Pale pink is often a favourite of the Queen, who wears her hair in her trademark set curls, and nearly always wears a hat when outside. But bright blues, sunshine yellows and lilac purple are all found in the Queen’s wardrobe, and she often finds herself on trend. During a state visit from the Irish president, the Queen wore a collarless electric blue coat, and in late 2013 she brightened up a winter’s November day with a fuchsia pink long-sleeved shift.