Queen Elizabeth II recently became the longest-reigning monarch in the history of the United Kingdom, and on Thursday she celebrated another milestone: her 90th birthday.
But as any nonagenarian will tell you, you don't make it to 90 without a few funny secrets stuffed in your — and the Queen is no exception. From her private cutesy nickname to her strict rules regarding mixed nuts, there's a lot about Elizabeth you might not know.
So without further ado, we're proud to relay these nine obscure stories that prove the Queen is even cooler than the icy gin cocktails she loves so dearly:
#1. Since British passports are issued "in the name of Her Majesty," the Queen does not need one to travel overseas. In fact, as The Atlantic once pointed out, the wording on the inside cover of British passports suggests that the Queen is a passport in and of herself. Furthermore, the Queen doesn't need a driver's license to drive, and nor is she required to put tags on her vehicles. (And yes, she sometimes drives herself around.)
#2. Don't expect Queen Elizabeth to be a crazy cat lady. Her loyalties lie with corgis, but not just any stubby old breed will do. According to Vanity Fair, she has "personally overseen a program of corgi breeding that is based on the grounds of Windsor Castle," and all purebred puppies from her kennel "are registered under the affix of Windsor." And while she’s owned about 30 corgis throughout her lifetime, it’s been reported that the Queen is now left with two, Holly and Willow, and no new puppies will be added to the royal pack due to her age. "She didn’t want to leave any young dogs behind," said Monty Roberts, an adviser to the British monarch. These days, Holly and Willow are spending their golden dog years living in the royal household, all while being personally fed steak, rabbit or chicken served on silver and porcelain by the Queen herself. (As a young princess, Elizabeth, along with her sister Margaret, also invented the "dorgi" by cross-breeding their corgi with a dachshund.)
#3. According to one of Prince Philip's biographers, the Duke of Edinburgh sometimes addresses Elizabeth by the cutesy nickname "cabbage." While the origins of the nickname remain a mystery, Britain's Sunday Times posits that Philip might've modeled it after "mon petit chou," a French term of endearment meaning "my little cabbage."
#4. All the way back in 1976, Queen Elizabeth II became one of the first heads of state — and one of the first people in England — to use the internet. On March 26, 1976, the Queen visited the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in Malvern, England, to test out their new telecommunications network, called ARPANET (the precursor to the internet). British scientist and internet pioneer Peter T. Kirstein, who set up the computer for Elizabeth, created the username "HME2" (Her Majesty Elizabeth II) as her "email" address.
#5. If you ever find yourself working for Queen Elizabeth, don't you dare eat any of the mixed nuts you find placed around her estate. In 2013, it was revealed that the Queen had once scolded Buckingham Palace police for eating the cashews, almonds and snacks that had been laid out for guests. She even had a memo sent out to the offending employees, instructing them to "keep their sticky fingers out."
#6. Despite her stingy stance on snacks, the Queen's security team is actually quite generous. According to Michael Fagan, the barefoot criminal who famously broke into Buckingham Palace in 1982 (and even made it into the Queen's bedroom while she was sleeping), the guard who caught him poured him a glass of Famous Grouse whiskey from the Queen's pantry while they waited for police to arrive. Fagan also revealed that the Queen's guards mailed him back his shoes after finding them on the roof years later.
#7. With all of her constant royal duties, it makes perfect sense that the Queen would need to kick back with a cocktail every now and then. She’s reportedly a fan of gin with Dubonnet, a French aperitif made with herbs and spices, and invented in 1846 by a Parisian chemist to help French soldiers battle malaria in North Africa. And apparently, the drink was a family favorite: At an auction in 2008, an anonymous bidder paid 16,000 pounds for one of the Queen Mother's hand-written notes in which she said she was taking "two small bottles of Dubonnet and gin with me this morning, in case it is needed" to an outdoor lunch. But while the Queen’s libation of choice packs a real punch, don’t expect the monarch to be a sloppy boozer. "I’ve seen the Queen with this red drink on many occasions and she makes it last a whole reception," said veteran photographer Arthur Edwards.
#8. Queen Elizabeth II does indeed have a surname for formal purposes (Windsor). However, in 1960, the Queen declared that all future male descendants who don't hold royal titles will be given the name Mountbatten-Windsor to reflect husband Philip's lineage, too. (Many royal heirs, including William and Kate, prefer to use "Mountbatten-Windsor" anyway.) Oddly enough, neither Windsor nor Mountbatten were Elizabeth's or Philip's original surnames; Elizabeth's father was originally born into the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and Philip's family name was Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, which he ditched in favor of his mother's maiden name (Mountbatten) before marrying Elizabeth.
#9. John Higgins, who formerly served as one of Buckingham Palace's chefs, claims that the Queen won't allow the kitchen staff to use any garlic in the dishes they prepare. "The Queen is a wonderful lady, the royal family are wonderful people, but they’re missing out on garlic," Higgins has said. ("I suppose, in case you get the royal burp," he hypothesized.) On the flip side, Higgins claims that the Queen is quite fond of a simple chocolate mousse and poached pair recipe he shared with the National Post.