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Queen Elizabeth’s lesser-known but impressive roles during her 70-year reign

QUEEN ELIZABETH II

EyePress News | AFP

Cerith Gardiner - published on 09/09/22 - updated on 09/09/22

The remarkable sovereign led a truly remarkable life.

Shakespeare once said: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” and that is no doubt true about the way Queen Elizabeth II must feel some of the time. Not only did her actual crown weigh a hefty 2.3 pounds, but along with being the British sovereign and head of the Church of England, she also fulfilled many other roles — all very much in the public eye.

In light of her passing, we thought we’d take a look back at her 70 years as sovereign of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms and consider the woman beneath the jewels and finery, especially at the many other “hats” she wore during her impressive reign.

Daddy’s girl

The Queen adored her father, King George VI, and the day she became the queen would have been the most painful in her young life. Not only had she lost her beloved Papa, she would have felt overwhelmed taking on such a huge role as sovereign while also being a young wife and mother.

King George VI

The strong father-daughter relationship stayed with Elizabeth II throughout her reign. She was known to spend the period between Christmas and the day George VI died at her Sandringham Estate, a place full of beautiful memories spent with her family.

Mechanic

While still a princess, an 18-year-old Elizabeth helped the war effort by joining the army’s Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). There she trained as a mechanic and was able to play an active part in helping the country she would one day rule. She was able to use her mechanical skills throughout her life and was known to identify mechanical problems.

princess Elizabeth II

The sovereign also rose through the ranks since her first posting all those decades ago, at the time of her death she acted as colonel-in-chief to 16 different British army regiments — a role she took most seriously. And of course, she could still be seen behind the wheel of the car not long before she passed away.

Radio host

As a princess, the young Elizabeth took to the air waves for the first time in 1940 to give some encouragement to the nation’s children who’d also left their homes during the Blitz. Her following message was broadcast and played on Children’s Hour:

Thousands of you in this country have had to leave your homes and be separated from your fathers and mothers. My sister Margaret Rose and I feel so much for you, as we know from experience what it means to be away from those you love most of all. To you living in new surroundings, we send a message of true sympathy and at the same time we would like to thank the kind people who have welcomed you to their homes in the country.”

Elizabeth II also made many other addresses over the years: from her Christmas addresses to occasional addresses to offer support to the British public in tough times.

Jockey

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A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily)

She may not have been a real jockey, but the avid horse rider had a passion for racing and was heavily involved in her horses’ performances at major horse racing events. Her passion for her four-legged friends meant she continued to go out on rides even in her 90s. However, in an unusual move for the sovereign, she refused to wear a helmet, opting for a scarf instead. Horse trainer Ian Balding shared that when he questioned her about this dangerous habit she said: “I never have–and you don’t have to have your hair done like I do.”

Thankfully Her Majesty rode at a slow pace, but it’s one of the few times she was a little reckless.

Champion of women

The Queen was known for using her role to send some serious messages. And one powerful message she sent was to then-prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on his visit to the Queen’s estate in Scotland, Balmoral.

At a time when women were not allowed to drive in the Middle Eastern kingdom, Elizabeth II decided to show the Crown Prince just what ladies can do — even ones with crowns. She invited the prince to take a tour of the estate and as he sat at the front of the Land Rover, he was shocked to see the military-grade royal hop into the Land Rover beside him and proceed to take him on a very bumpy ride, half-frightening him to death, according to the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, whom the Queen confided in about the eventful trip.

Actor

One of the Queen’s most unlikely roles was when she starred alongside James Bond during a spoof video for the London 2012 Olympics.

The royal thespian surprised the world when she appeared on the big screen at the Olympic stadium. And what made it all the more special was that Elizabeth had a key role in her performance, even giving input into her performance.

This was followed by another wonderful performance with Paddington Bear in her Platinum Jubilee celebrations, in which the Queen finally revealed what was in her handbag!

Fashionista

An unlikely role for someone who loves nothing more than to wear a tartan skirt and pullover, but there’s no denying that Elizabeth II graced thousands of magazine covers and inspired designers all over the world — especially in her younger years.

Yet maybe it was her ability to stay true to what she loved — her iconic black bag and shoes, gloved hands, and brightly covered outfits all topped with a perfect hat — that most earned the Queen the accolade of “fashionista.”

WEB-QUEEN-ELIZABETH-UK-ENGLAND-FLOWERS-shutterstock_56668144-By Zoran Karapancev-AI

Devoted wife

While family life for the Queen wasn’t always straightforward — and in fact she received much criticism for how she dealt with certain events in the past — one thing she cherished was her role as wife to her beloved Prince Phillip.

The royal fell in love with her dashing prince when she met up with him for a second time just aged 13 at a naval academy. From that moment the determined queen decided to follow her heart and persuade her parents that this unlikely match would work. And it did.

Prince PhilIP AND QUEEN ELIZABETH II

The couple had four children together during their 73 marriage, and the late-Duke of Edinburgh was a constant source of support for the Queen as she reigned, and was referred to as “her rock.”

Her deep love for her handsome prince was apparent in her last Christmas address in which she opened her heart to the nation and spoke of her great loss after his death last year.

And now, even in her death, seems to be a unifier of a nation in the midst of an economic crisis. As millions of Britons react to the passing of their beloved queen, there is an air of togetherness, of gratitude, and a hope for a future in which her legacy can live on.

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