On 8 September 2022, Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, passed away peacefully at her home in Balmoral, Scotland. She was 96. The British crown has been passed on to her eldest son, who is known as King Charles III.
This is a moment in royal history as the world witnessed a shift in the monarchy for the first time since the Queen was crowned in 1937. A regal life splendidly lived, Her Royal Highness inherited and was gifted many priceless possessions during the seven decades of her reign. While the obvious ones are royal estates, luxury cars and heritage jewels obtained during centuries of colonial rule in the world, she had some absolutely surprising, yet remarkable, items that will capture your imagination.
A look at some of the things Queen Elizabeth II owned and inherited during her lifetime
Corgis and Dorgis
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Everyone who is even remotely familiar with Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy would know about her love for Corgis. Throughout her lifetime, she has owned more than 30 of them, as well as a rare breed ‘Dorgi,’ which was a cross between a Corgi and a Daschund. The Queen introduced this breed to the world as one of her Corgis mated with Princess Margaret’s dachshund, Pipkin.
Dolphins, swans and more
Affable and majestic, dolphins are recognised as the ‘royal fish’ in the United Kingdom. By the statute formed in 1324, these mammals have been owned by the reigning monarchs through the ages. Whales and sturgeons also join the list of sea animals owned by Queen Elizabeth II.
That’s not all, the Queen was the ‘swan marker’ and could claim all the swans on River Thames as her own. With King Charles III taking over the reins, he inherited these elegant birds.
She also owned the UK’s territorial seabed. It stretches from the seabed surrounding the UK to 12 nautical miles (approximately 22.2 km) away from shore.
The Queen owned all of Scotland’s gold mining activities and had a right to sell them.
Estates owned by Queen Elizabeth II
During her long reign of 70 years, the Queen stayed in over six stately residences but privately owned only two of them. The historic Buckingham palace is the most popular among all her residences. It belongs to The Crown Estate.
The 1000-year-old Windsor Castle, which has been a royal residence for the Queen’s predecessors as well, is iconic for its history and stature. It is owned by The Crown Estate. Similarly, other residences of the Queen, namely Holyrood Palace of Scotland and Hillsborough Castle of Northern Ireland, were inherited properties of the monarch.
Her privately owned residences were very close to her heart. Of these, Balmoral Castle (pictured) is widely known as a beloved summer home of the Queen. The approximately 2,0234.2-hectare property was purchased by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, in 1852 and later inherited by Queen Elizabeth. Balmoral was home to the Queen.
The 8,100-hectare Sandringham Estate in Norfolk has been the Queen’s private property, and it has special significance because her beloved Corgis are buried here.
Her art collection as Sovereign
One of the largest art collections in the world, the Queen did not personally own The Royal Collection but was “held in trust by her as Sovereign for her successors and the nation,” according to the official The Royal Collection website. She could not sell the collection but could add to it which she did in 2012 to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. The collection houses valuable artefacts, including some rare paintings acquired over 500 years by the Queen and monarchs before her.
With rare artworks by Rembrandt, Rubens, Claude, Gentileschi and Van Dyck, the GBP 10-billion collection comprises 7,000 paintings, 500,000 prints, 30,000 drawings, sculptures and other objects.
Luxury cars in her garage
Did you know that in February 1945, the then Princess Elizabeth enlisted in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II and trained as a military truck driver and mechanic? She was the first female from the royal family to join the armed forces. After finishing a five-month training, Elizabeth became an honorary junior commander. However, before she could be sent to active duty, the war came to an end.
Her love for automobiles perhaps dates back to this time. She had a special eye for exquisite machines, which were part of her collection of vintage and latest cars.
While she owned Rolls-Royce Phantom V and VI in the 1950s and 1960s, the Daimler Super V8 LWB was part of her garage as well. Starting with the 1953 Land Rover Series I, she is known to have 30 cars by the automobile manufacturer, including the new Defender.
Besides these, her collection of cars also included the 2009 Jaguar X-Type Sportwagon V6 Sovereign and a regal Bentley limousine.
Queen Victoria’s sketchbook
Queen Victoria (1819-1901), Queen Elizabeth II’s great-great-grandmother, was an ardent lover of art and an artist herself. The former was known to sketch during her visits to Balmoral Castle and Osborne House, as well as maintain a journal.
Queen Elizabeth II inherited this artefact of the royal family.
The Queen’s jewels
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At the end of the Elizabethan Era, historians point out that the monarch had the most impressive collection of tiaras, brooches, earrings, standard pearl necklaces and other baubles. While some of these belonged to The Crown, most of these pieces were gifted to the Queen by her loved ones, adding to her personal collection of jewels.
Most popular amongst them were St. Edward’s Crown, which she wore at her coronation; Queen Mary Fringe Tiara, which belonged to Queen Victoria and is a part of the Crown Collection; George VI sapphire suite; the iconic Queen Mary’s True Lover’s Knot brooch; her diamond engagement ring, which originally belonged to Prince Philip’s mother; and George IV State Diadem.
Priceless Fabergé collection
Through many generations, the Royal Collection has amassed 800 pieces of Fabergé creations. These include those acquired by Queen Alexandra and King Edward VII as well.
Crochet hooks, Imperial Easter Eggs, the world’s largest menagerie of Fabergé hardstone animals and a group of flower studies are some of the finest works by the great Russian jeweller Peter Carl Faberge that the Queen and earlier members of the royal family added to the Royal Collection Trust’s collection. They are housed in the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace.
Luxury handbags owned by Queen Elizabeth II
The Queen was sure a woman of style and very particular about her sartorial choices. Never seen without a dainty handbag in her hand, she has several of them in her wardrobe.
According to a 2016 Daily Mail report, she owned over 200 luxury London designer Launer pieces, each of which was estimated at GBP 1,650.
Tower of London
A show of strength and magnificence, the Tower of London has been a fortress guarding royal possessions during wars, a luxurious palace, as well as a prison where enemies of kings and queens were put behind bars.
Built in the 1070s by William The Conqueror, it houses Crown Jewels and the Yeoman Warders. To date, the Yeomen Warders perform the Ceremony of the Keys, which is the ceremonial duty of locking and unlocking the Tower each day.
An Aberdeen Angus cow and tortoises from Seychelles
On her visit to Canada in 2005, the Queen attended the Calgary Stampede agricultural show as a part of her royal duties. She was presented with a rather unusual gift at the event, a cow. The Aberdeen Angus Cow is native to the region, and the Queen graciously accepted this gift. However, she did not take it back to Buckingham Palace. The cow remained in its native habitat as a founding member of the stampede herd.
Amongst other unique animals gifted to the monarch, there are a couple of Aldabra giant tortoises from Seychelles, which the Queen received in 1972 during her visit to the island. They were entrusted with the ZSL London Zoo for care.
(Hero and Featured Image credits: The Royal Family)