20 Super Facts About the Philadelphia Eagles

Al Bello, Getty Images
Al Bello, Getty Images

The Eagles are back. Super Bowl-bound for the first time in 13 years, the City of Brotherly Love is counting the seconds until Sunday's opening kickoff. Philly’s resident NFL club has yet to feather its nest with a Vince Lombardi Trophy, but then again, can you name another football team whose fight song popped up in the Star Wars universe? Swoop on over for more facts about this signature franchise.


NRA eagle poster displayed by businesses to show support for government program - NARA
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

From 1924 to 1931, the Philadelphia area had an NFL team called the Frankford Yellow Jackets. After they folded, another club was established by league veteran Lud Wray and businessman Bert Bell. Their new franchise played its first game in 1933—the same year that saw Franklin Roosevelt create the National Recovery Administration. This New Deal agency enforced industry codes that were designed to set minimum wages, promote union membership, and encourage fair competition. The NRA’s emblem was a blue eagle carrying a gear and three bolts of lightning. Taking a cue from this symbol, Wray and Bell decided to name their team “The Philadelphia Eagles.”


In 1935, Bell—a future NFL commissioner—came up with the idea for a draft, the NFL's main talent-recruitment system, and proposed it at a league meeting. The first NFL Draft was held in 1936. Before the draft, it had been standard practice for teams to negotiate with college players directly. As a result, the most in-demand stars almost always joined the richest, most successful franchises. Bell convinced his fellow owners to implement a draft, whereby the NFL teams would take turns selecting athletes from a pool of eligible players. For fairness’ sake, it was decided that, in each draft, the worst team of the preceding NFL season would get to choose first.


On October 22, 1939, the Eagles lost to the Brooklyn Football Dodgers (a club which no longer exists) by a final score of 23-14. NBC sent an eight-man crew to film the contest, which was broadcast on one of the network’s New York City affiliates. Roughly 500 New Yorkers tuned in to watch the game. Altogether, the broadcast lasted for two hours and 33 minutes. There were no commercial interruptions.


World War II created a massive player shortage, with many pro footballers leaving their teams to fight overseas. In Pennsylvania, the Steelers' and Eagles’ rosters were so heavily depleted that some feared both clubs would shut down. Instead, they merged. For the duration of the 1943 season, these two franchises consolidated their squads into one, 25-man team nicknamed the “Steagles.” Their union ended the next year, when Philadelphia recruited enough players to strike out on its own again. Meanwhile, the understaffed Steelers were forced to enter a new merger with the Chicago Cardinals in 1944.


A fan favorite, Eagles running back Steve Van Buren ran for 1008 yards in 1947 and 1146 in 1949. He’s also the only Pro Football Hall of Famer who was born in Honduras.


Imagine if a sitting president co-owned an NFL team? Such a thing might’ve come to pass in 1962, when the Eagles were in the market for a new owner. The First Family learned they could acquire the club for the bargain price of $6 million. It was a tempting prospect.

According to former senator Ted Kennedy, “My brother Jack called me and said, ‘Are you in for a third if we can get [the Eagles] for $6 million? I’ve talked to Bobby and he says he’ll go for it.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’ll go for a third.’” The deal never materialized, however. As ex-senator John Culver—a lifelong friend of Ted’s—has explained, the Kennedys became convinced that owning the Eagles “wouldn't work very compatibly with Jack's responsibility as president.”


During the pre-Super Bowl Era, the Eagles won three National Football League titles. They earned the first of these on December 14, 1948 by beating the Cardinals in that year’s NFL Championship Game. Played at Philly’s Shibe Park, the contest was a bleak affair. That’s because, hours before kickoff, a nasty blizzard smothered the host stadium under a foot and a half of snow. Fans were told that if they brought a shovel over and helped clear the field, they wouldn’t be charged admission. In the end, the groundskeepers, an army of shovel-wielding spectators, and players from both teams all had to work together to get Shibe Park ready for the big game.


The Vince Lombardi Trophy is named after a gridiron giant. As Green Bay’s head coach, Lombardi won five world championships, including the first two Super Bowls. Under his command, the Packers were a force to be reckoned with, especially in the postseason. Indeed, they only suffered one playoff loss during Lombardi’s legendary, nine-year tenure: In the 1960 NFL Championship Game, the Eagles prevailed over the Packers at Franklin Field by a final score of 17-13.


Philadelphians will never hear the end of the Santa Claus incident: On December 15, 1968, the last-place, 2-11 Eagles played their final game of the season against the Minnesota Vikings. Some 54,535 fans fought their way through a blizzard to watch the game at Philly’s Franklin Field. In an effort to raise everyone’s spirits, the owners had booked a Santa Claus impersonator to perform at halftime, but the actor never showed. Fortunately, the staff noticed then-19-year-old Frank Olivo who, as fate would have it, had worn a homemade Santa suit to the game.

After agreeing to fill in for the absent Kringle, Olivo made his way down to the field—where the miserable, frigid fans started booing him and hurling snowballs. It was an incident that Eagles fans—including those who weren't even born at the time—have never been able to live down. But Olivo claimed that, "I'm a Philadelphia fan, I knew what was what. I thought it was funny."

Before his death in 2015, Olivo event went on the record as saying “Philadelphia fans are the best in the world. I don’t care what anybody says, they live and die with their teams.”


When the team with the lead has possession of the ball during a game’s final seconds, it’s now standard practice for their quarterback to take a knee and run out the clock. That wasn't always the case, though. For a long time, many considered this maneuver to be unsportsmanlike. However, it became widely adopted after a 1978 Eagles-Giants game nicknamed “The Miracle at the Meadowlands.”

With less than 30 seconds remaining, New York had the ball and a 17-12 lead. But instead of kneeling, Giants QB Joe Pisarick tried handing the ball off to one of his fullbacks, but in the process, he dropped it. Thinking fast, Eagles defensive back Herman Edwards was able to grab it and score a game-winning touchdown. Needless to say, New York fans were stunned. One week later, the league embraced quarterback kneel-downs and never looked back.


Bears and Eagles faceoff in the 1988 "Fog Bowl".
NFL.com, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

On New Year’s Eve, 1988, the Eagles lost a postseason heartbreaker to the Bears in Chicago, in a game that has gone down in history as “The Fog Bowl.” Meteorologically, the title was well-earned. Lake Michigan sent a blinding sheet of fog over Soldier Field late in the first half, and the haze stayed put until the very last play. Visibility was so bad that most players couldn’t see beyond 10 yards in front of their faces. Up in the public address booth, Bears play-by-play announcer Jim Riebandt had to get game updates relayed to him from an usher who was standing on the field with a two-way radio.


No other NFL player has matched this feat, which Dawkins executed in a 2002 loss to the Houston Texans.


ctor Sylvester Stallone makes an appearance as 'Rocky' prior to the inaugural NFL game at Lincoln Financial Field featuring the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers versus the Philadelphia Eagles on September 8, 2003
Doug Pensinger, Getty Images

What could be more Philadelphian than Rocky Balboa in an Eagles jersey? Since their inception in 1933, the Eagles have called six different venues home, and their present abode is the $512 million stadium Lincoln Financial Field—also known as “The Linc.” The team’s first regular season game there kicked off on September 8, 2003, with Stallone in attendance in a Duce Staley jersey. Sly, of course, is a huge fan of the club; prior to the 2017 NFC Championship Game, he filmed himself imploring the Eagles to “Keep punching.”


Lucasfilm sound engineer David Acord loves his Philadelphia Eagles. When he was tasked with devising a language for the reptile-like alien Teedo in 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Acord had the beast say “Celek” and “Fletcher” onscreen. This was a reference to Eagles tight end Brent Celek and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. For Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Acord passed off an Esperanto translation of “Fly, Eagles Fly” as a mystical Jedha City chant.


Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates his teams win over the Minnesota Vikings with the George Halas Trophy after the NFC Championship game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 21, 2018
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

In 1996, the Eagles swapped out the more conventional Kelly green uniforms they’d been wearing since the 1930s for some new outfits in this darker shade. The hue isn’t easy to reproduce. Nike actually had so much trouble getting the shade just right that the company failed to complete Philadelphia’s 2014 home uniforms before the season began. Due to this snafu, the Eagles had to wear white or black jerseys during their first six home games that year. Nike finally got the team’s midnight green uniforms ready for a week 10 matchup against Carolina at The Linc.


The team’s current bird-head design debuted in 1996. (Previous logos involved a soaring raptor with a football in its talons.) You may have noticed that, uniquely for an NFL insignia, this one faces to the left. The reason? Look closely, and you’ll see a capital “E” hidden in the neck feathers.


New England Patriots Deion Branch #83 runs with the ball during Super Bowl XXXIX between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida on February 6, 2005
Al Messerschmidt, Getty Images

Let’s take a look back at the last Eagles team that reached the Super Bowl: The 2004 squad went 13-3 in the regular season. Then they beat the Vikings and Falcons before losing to New England in Super Bowl XXXIX. Right about now, football fans in eastern Pennsylvania must be getting a sense of déjà vu. After all, the 2017 Eagles also went 13-3 prior to defeating Atlanta and Minnesota in the post-season. Oh, and who will they face on Sunday? Tom Brady’s Patriots. Spooky!


By defeating Atlanta in the Divisional Round of the 2017 playoffs, the top-seeded Eagles earned the right to host the NFC Championship Game. Knowing that the team's fans are an excitable lot, and fearing the worst, city officials had workers grease up street lights around Philadelphia. These so-called “Crisco cops” hoped that the measure would keep Eagles diehards from scaling the poles once the game ended. Instead, green-clad sports junkies took the whole thing as a challenge. After the Birds won, several Philly fans photographed themselves climbing grease-slicked streetlights in defiance.


Every modern Eagles fan can recite the team’s battle cry, “Fly, Eagles Fly.” But did you know that when this song was originally penned by Charles Borrelli and Roger Courtland in the late 1950s, it went “Fight, Eagles Fight?” The anthem had all but disappeared by 1997, when a team pep band resurrected it. New lyrics were later added and the tempo was sped up. Billboard has since listed “Fly, Eagles Fly” as one of the NFL’s best jingles. Also, the Philly-formed band The Roots has covered it multiple times.


Well, this’ll be an awkward reunion. Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long and running back LeGarrette Blount both earned a Super Bowl ring last year ... as members of the New England Patriots' roster. (Blount had also won another title as a Pat in Super Bowl XLIX.) On Sunday, we’ll see them take the field against their old team. With the duo’s help, can the Eagles finally capture a Lombardi trophy? Bradley Cooper certainly hopes so…

9 Surprising Facts About James McAvoy

Chris Jackson, Getty Images
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

Whether you know James McAvoy from the X-Men movies or have been a fan since his early gigs on British television, there's no denying that 2019 has already been a very good year for the Scottish actor. In addition to his starring role in M. Night Shyamalan's Glass, McAvoy is set to star in June's Dark Phoenix, will be taking on the role of an adult Bill Denbrough in It: Chapter 2 in October, and will appear in the upcoming TV version of His Dark Materials later this year. And to top it all off, he’s turning 40 on April 21.

In celebration of McAvoy's big day—and even bigger year—here are some things you might not know about the Golden Globe-nominated actor.

1. He was raised by his grandparents.

James McAvoy was born in Glasgow, Scotland, to a psychiatric nurse and a builder. However, his parents split when he was seven, and because his mother was in poor health, McAvoy and his sister went to live with their maternal grandparents. While his mother lived with them on and off throughout his childhood, McAvoy hasn’t spoken to his father since he was a kid.

2. He considered becoming a priest.

McAvoy was brought up in the Roman Catholic church, but that wasn’t the reason he considered becoming a priest. Long before he decided to go the drama school route, he considered entering the priesthood because he thought it would give him an excuse to travel the world.

"I wanted to be a missionary, but it was only because I wanted a free ticket to go and explore the world," McAvoy told The Telegraph in 2006. "I realized I was using God and religion to get my kicks so I knocked that on the head."

3. He married his on-screen love interest.

Anne-Marie Duff and James McAvoy attends the Suffragette Premiere during the Opening Night Gala during the BFI London Film Festival at Leicester Square on October 7, 2015 in London, England
John Phillips, Getty Images for BFI

While working on the UK version of Shameless in the early 2000s, McAvoy met his on-screen love interest and future wife, Anne-Marie Duff. The pair started a relationship that they kept very private, and married in 2006. They went on to also star in 2009’s The Last Station together, but McAvoy later announced he would no longer be working with his then-wife.

"You have to weigh it up against how much of a headache it would be. It exposes you to a lot of questions," he told USA Today in 2011. "I'm very big in saying that I don't agree that if you put yourself in the spotlight, you have to accept it. I do think that if you work together as husband and wife, you're kind of asking for it." Ultimately, the couple split in 2016.

4. Acting was never his plan.

In addition to the priesthood, McAvoy considered a few others careers before he settled on acting. In fact, acting kind of happened by accident. While speaking to The Guardian in 2006, McAvoy explained that it wasn’t until director David Hayman came to his school to speak about the entertainment business that he knew he wanted to give it a go. He was so sure, in fact, that he reportedly approached Hayman after the talk and asked him for some work. (McAvoy's first credited role was in 1995's The Near Room, which Hayman directed.)

“I always believed that I never wanted to be an actor; I only did it because I was allowed to do it and I had to do something,” McAvoy explained. “I felt as if my career just happened to me. I hadn't actually engaged in it. I suppose I felt totally disempowered, just by this fate thing.”

5. Band of Brothers was his big break.

McAvoy’s big break came in HBO’s 2001 miniseries Band of Brothers, produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. The actor played character James W. Miller in just one episode, but that’s all it took for his phone to start ringing; shortly thereafter, McAvoy scored notable roles on BBC’s Shameless (2004), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), and The Last King of Scotland (2006). He wasn't the only up-and-comer who made a name for himself with Band of Brothers: Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, and Dominic Cooper were among his co-stars.

6. He’s a Golden Globe nominee.

In 2007, McAvoy played Keira Knightley's love interest in Joe Wright’s period drama Atonement, based on the Ian McEwan novel. The role was one of the actor’s most moving performances to date, and scored him a Golden Globe nomination. Although he has wowed audiences in numerous parts since, such as the man with 23 different personalities in 2016’s Split (and 2019’s Glass), his role in Atonement has earned him the most critical acclaim. McAvoy, too, is a fan.

"[T]o find a film that was so epic, sweeping and romantic, yet be intelligent, was nice to me," McAvoy said. "Also the fact that it’s a very classic story, but it’s told in a very contemporary and modern way."

7. He was slightly tipsy the first time he met M. Night Shyamalan.

M. Night Shyamalan and James McAvoy attend the “Glass” Paris Gala Screening at la Cinematheque Francaise on January 07, 2019 in Paris, France
Kristy Sparow, Getty Images for Disney Studios

Speaking of Split and Glass: McAvoy was definitely in the right place at the right time—and in the right frame of mind—when he first met director M. Night Shyamalan. In a 2017 interview with The Guardian, McAvoy shared how he and Shyamalan just happened to cross paths at San Diego Comic-Con in 2015. "There was a big party, you couldn’t turn around without bumping into somebody off the telly," he said. "My mate Jesse was playing miniature golf in the middle of it. We were getting particularly drunk, and then I saw M. Night Shyamalan. He goes: ‘You’re James McAvoy!’ And I said: ‘You’re M Night Shyamalan! What do I call you?’ I was very drunk.”

Inebriated or not, Shyamalan saw something he liked. One month later, he was on the set of Split (in a role that Joaquin Phoenix was originally set to play, but dropped out of at the last minute).

8. He admires Samuel L. Jackson's no-nonsense attitude.

While promoting Glass, McAvoy participated in a lot of press events with Samuel L. Jackson, and was impressed by what he saw. "I saw examples of what I might be able to do when I got the balls he’s got,” McAvoy said. "That guy does not suffer fools, which is a positive quality. If he gets any kind of question that is in any way not thought out properly, he just drops the F-bomb and is like, ‘What are you talking about? What? What?’ He calls out [the journalist] so hard, and it’s the funniest thing."

9. He credits his success to a lot of luck.

When asked about the secret to his success, McAvoy doesn't mince words: "I got lucky," he told The Talks. "I got so f***ing lucky that I fell into the lap of a director when I was 16 and he gave me a part in a film and my horizons immediately exploded wide with all the weird people in it and all these crazy f***ing actors and directors and artistic people who were from all over the world. Through that one job I met people from England, I met people from America, and I met people from all over the place with challenging points of view and sympathetic points of view to mine. And then I went to a youth theater for six months as well, and that expanded my mind massively. It gave me so much more confidence to find out who I was and not be afraid of who I was simply because I’m in a scenario that I don’t understand ... I got really lucky. I got really, really lucky. It’s been a good ride for me."

25 Regal Facts About Queen Elizabeth II

Jane Barlow, Pool/Getty Images
Jane Barlow, Pool/Getty Images

On April 21, Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her 93rd birthday—and her first of two official birthdays. Though millions of words have been written about the world's longest-reigning monarch, few people know the woman behind the crown, or even what her daily duties entail. In honor of Her Majesty, here are some things you might not know about this royal legend, and why it's good to be the Queen.

1. She wasn't born an heir apparent to the throne.

The Queen Elizabeth (3rd-L, future Queen Mother), her daughter Princess Elizabeth (4th-L, future Queen Elizabeth II), Queen Mary (C) , Princess Margaret (5th-L) and the King George VI (R), pose at the balcony of the Buckingham Palace in December 1945.
The Queen Elizabeth (3rd-L, future Queen Mother), her daughter Princess Elizabeth (4th-L, future Queen Elizabeth II), Queen Mary (C) , Princess Margaret (5th-L) and the King George VI (R), pose at the balcony of the Buckingham Palace in December 1945.
AFP, Getty Images

For the first 10 years of her life, Princess Elizabeth was a relatively minor royal—her status was akin to Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York today—but that all changed with the death of her grandfather, King George V, in 1936.

The next in the line of royal succession was Elizabeth's uncle, Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne less than a year after taking it so that he could marry an American socialite named Wallis Simpson. Edward didn't have any children at the time, so his brother Albert (Elizabeth’s father) ascended to the throne, taking the name George VI and making the then-10-year-old Elizabeth the first in line to become Queen.

2. Her younger sister gave her a family nickname.

Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth in 1933.
Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth in 1933.
AFP/Getty Images

Elizabeth and Margaret were the only children of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and King George VI, who said of his daughters: "Lilibet is my pride, Margaret my joy." "Lilibet," of course, is Elizabeth, who earned her nickname because Margaret—whom the family affectionately called Margot—constantly mispronounced her big sister’s name.

3. She didn't go to school.

Princesses Elizabeth (right) and Margaret at Waterloo Station, London, 1939.
Princesses Elizabeth (right) and Margaret at Waterloo Station, London, 1939.
Fox Photos, Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Heirs apparent don’t just show up to primary school like normal kids. Instead, Elizabeth was tutored at home during sessions by different teachers like Henry Marten, vice-provost of Eton College (which is still for boys only), and was also given private religion lessons by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

4. But she and Margaret technically did have a teacher.

Stamps from 1937 featuring Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, The Coronation Chair, Westminster Abbey, The Coronation Coach, The Houses of Parliament, Windsor Castle, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to commemorate the King's Coronation.
Stamps from 1937 featuring Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, The Coronation Chair, Westminster Abbey, The Coronation Coach, The Houses of Parliament, Windsor Castle, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to commemorate the King's Coronation.
London Express, Getty Images

Just because she didn't attend school doesn't mean that Elizabeth didn't receive an education. She received the bulk of it through her nanny, Marion Crawford, who the royal family referred to as "Crawfie." Crawford would eventually be ostracized by the royal family for writing a tell-all book in 1953 called The Little Princesses without their permission; the book recounted Crawford's experiences with Elizabeth during her younger days.

5. She wanted to go to war, but was too young.

Queen consort Elizabeth holds Princess Margaret's hand as Princess Elizabeth follows, in 1936.
Queen consort Elizabeth holds Princess Margaret's hand as Princess Elizabeth follows, in 1936.
Central Press, Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When World War II broke out in 1939, Elizabeth—then just a teenager—begged her father to join the effort somehow. She started out by making radio broadcasts geared toward raising the morale of British children. During one of the broadcasts, the 14-year-old princess reassured listeners, "I can truthfully say to you all that we children at home are full of cheerfulness and courage. We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers, and airmen and we are trying too to bear our own share of the danger and sadness of war."

6. She eventually served in World War II.

Princess Elizabeth changing the tire of a vehicle as she trains at as ATS Officer during World War II in April 1945.
Princess Elizabeth changing the tire of a vehicle as she trains at as ATS Officer during World War II in April 1945.
Central Press, Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Despite the risks, Elizabeth eventually joined the women's Auxiliary Territorial Service and trained as a truck driver and mechanic in 1945, when she was 18 years old.

Queen Elizabeth remains the only female royal family member to have entered the armed forces, and is currently the only living head of state who officially served in World War II.

7. She celebrated the end of the war by partying like her subjects.

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in 1947.
Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in 1947.
William Vanderson, Fox Photos/Getty Images

When then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that the war in Europe was over on May 8, 1945, people poured out into the streets of London to celebrate—including Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. The sheltered duo were allowed to sneak out of Buckingham Palace to join the revelers at their father's behest.

"It was a unique burst of personal freedom," recalled Margaret Rhodes, their cousin who went with them, "a Cinderella moment in reverse."

8. She married her cousin.

Then-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, following their wedding ceremony in November 1947.
Then-Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, following their wedding ceremony in November 1947.
AFP, Getty Images

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth are third cousins; both share the same great-great-grandparents: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

9. Elizabeth and her husband have known each other since childhood.

A family portrait in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace on the wedding day of Princess Elizabeth (future Queen Elizabeth II) and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on November 20, 1947.
A family portrait in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace on the wedding day of Princess Elizabeth (future Queen Elizabeth II) and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on November 20, 1947.
STR/AFP/Getty Images

Philip, son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg, first met Elizabeth when she was only 8 years old and he was 14. Both attended the wedding of Princess Marina of Greece (Prince Philip's cousin) and Prince George, the Duke of Kent (Elizabeth’s uncle).

Five years later the pair met again when George VI brought Elizabeth to tour the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, where Philip was a cadet. In a personal note, Elizabeth recalled falling for the young soldier-in-the-making: "I was 13 years of age and he was 18 and a cadet just due to leave. He joined the Navy at the outbreak of war, and I only saw him very occasionally when he was on leave—I suppose about twice in three years," she wrote. "Then when his uncle and aunt, Lord and Lady Mountbatten, were away he spent various weekends away with us at Windsor."

10. She didn't tell her parents she was getting hitched.

Princess Elizabeth, Philip Mountbatten, Queen Elizabeth (the future Queen Mother), King George VI, and Princess Margaret pose in Buckingham Palace on July 9, 1947, the day the engagement of Princess Elizabeth & Philip Mountbatten was officially announced.
Princess Elizabeth (future Queen Elizabeth II), Philip Mountbatten (also the Duke of Edinburgh), Queen Elizabeth (future Queen Mother), King George VI, and Princess Margaret pose in Buckingham Palace on July 9, 1947, the day the engagement of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten was officially announced.
AFP/Getty Images

In 1946, Philip proposed to Elizabeth when the former planned a month-long visit to Balmoral, her royal estate in Scotland. She accepted the proposal without even contacting her parents. But when George VI finally caught wind of the pending nuptials he would only officially approve if they waited to announce the engagement until after her 21st birthday.

The official public announcement of the engagement finally came nearly a year later on July 9, 1947.

11. She has a very royal name.

Princess Elizabeth (left) and her mother, Queen consort Elizabeth, in 1951.
Princess Elizabeth (left) and her mother, Queen consort Elizabeth, in 1951.
Reg Speller, Fox Photos/Getty Images

She's the second British monarch named Elizabeth, but Elizabeth II wasn't named after Henry VIII's famous progeny. Queen Elizabeth II's birth name is Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, after the names of her mother, Elizabeth, her paternal great-grandmother, Queen Alexandra, and her paternal grandmother, Queen Mary.

12. She got to choose her own surname.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip with two of their children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, circa 1951.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip with two of their children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, circa 1951.
OFF, AFP/Getty Images

Technically, the Queen's last name is "Windsor," which was first chosen by George V in 1917 after the royal family wanted to distance themselves from "Saxe-Coburg-Gotha"—the dynasty to which they belonged—for sounding too Germanic during World War I.

But as a way to distinguish themselves from the rest of the royal family, in 1960 Elizabeth and Philip adopted the official surname Windsor-Mountbatten. (Fans will surely remember that the surname drama was briefly discussed in Netflix’s series The Crown.)

13. She has two birthdays.

Princess Elizabeth just before her 21st birthday in April 1947.
Princess Elizabeth just before her 21st birthday in April 1947.
AFP/Getty Images

Like most British monarchs, Elizabeth gets to celebrate her birthday twice, and the reason why boils down to seasonably appropriate pomp and circumstance.

She was born on April 21, 1926, but April was deemed too cold and liable to fall during inclement weather. So instead, her official state-recognized birthday occurs on a Saturday in late May or June, so that the celebration can be held during warmer months. The specific date varies year to year in the UK, and usually coincides with Trooping the Colour, Britain’s annual military pageant.

14. Her coronation was televised against her wishes.

Queen Elizabeth's coronation, June 1953
Queen Elizabeth's coronation, June 1953.
AFP, Getty Images

Elizabeth officially ascended to the throne at just 25 years of age when her father, George VI, died on February 6, 1952. Elizabeth was in Kenya at the time of his death and returned home as her country's Queen. As fans of The Crown will remember, the hubbub surrounding her coronation was filled with ample amounts of drama.

The notoriously camera-shy Elizabeth—who didn't even allow photos to be taken of her wedding—didn't want the event televised, and others believed that broadcasting the coronation to commoners would break down upper-class traditions of only allowing members of British high society to witness the event. A Coronation Commission, chaired by Philip, was set up to weigh the options, and they initially decided to only allow cameras in a single area of Westminster Abbey "west of the organ screen," before allowing the entire thing to be televised with one minor caveat: no close-ups on Elizabeth's face.

15. She paid for her wedding dress using war ration coupons.

A 1947 sketch of Princess Elizabeth's wedding dress by Norman Hartnell.
A 1947 sketch of Princess Elizabeth's wedding dress by Norman Hartnell.
Central Press, Getty Images

Still reeling from an atmosphere of post-war austerity, Elizabeth used ration coupons and a 200-coupon supplement from the government to pay for her wedding dress. But don't be fooled, the dress was extremely elegant; it was made of ivory duchesse silk, encrusted with 10,000 imported seed pearls, took six months to make, and sported a 13-foot train. (It cost just under $40,000 to recreate the dress for The Crown.)

16. She doesn't need a passport to travel.

Queen Elizabeth II in Nuku'alofa, Tonga in December 1953.
Queen Elizabeth II in Nuku'alofa, Tonga in December 1953.
STRINGER, AFP/Getty Images

Elizabeth II is the world's most well-traveled head of state, visiting more than 115 countries between more than 270 official state visits, but she doesn't even own a passport. Since all British passports are officially issued in the Queen’s name, she technically doesn't need one.

17. She doesn't need a driver's license either.

Queen Elizabeth II drives a car in 1958.
Queen Elizabeth II drives a car in 1958.
Bob Haswell, Express/Getty Images

It's not just because she has a fleet of chauffeurs. Britain also officially issues driver's licenses in Elizabeth’s name, so don’t expect her to show off her ID when she gets pulled over taking other heads of state for a spin in her Range Rover.

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, recounted to The Sunday Times the time when Elizabeth drove former Saudi crown prince Abdullah around the grounds of Balmoral: "To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off," he said. "Women are not—yet—allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen."

18. She doesn't have to pay taxes (but chooses to anyway).

Queen Elizabeth rides in a carriage in 2000.

Queen Elizabeth has voluntarily paid income and capital gains taxes since 1992, but has always been subject to Value Added Tax.

19. She survived an assassination attempt.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II rides a horse side saddle and salutes during a Trooping of the Colour ceremony in London in 1952.
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II rides a horse side saddle and salutes during a Trooping of the Colour ceremony in London in 1952.
STRINGER, AFP/Getty Images

During the 1981 Trooping the Colour, the Queen led a royal procession on horseback down the Mall toward Buckingham Palace when shots rang out. A 17-year-old named Marcus Sarjeant, who was obsessed with the assassinations of figures like John Lennon and John F. Kennedy, fired a series of blanks toward Elizabeth. Sarjeant—who wrote in his diary, "I am going to stun and mystify the whole world with nothing more than a gun"—was thankfully unable to purchase live ammunition in the UK. He received a prison sentence of five years under the 1848 Treason Act, but was released in October 1984.

20. She also survived an intruder coming into her bedroom.

Queen Elizabeth II in Australia in 1954.
Queen Elizabeth II in Australia in 1954.
Fox Photos, Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A year after the Trooping the Colour incident, Elizabeth had another run-in. But instead of near Buckingham Palace, this time it was inside Buckingham Palace. On July 9, 1982, a man named Michael Fagen managed to climb over the Palace's barbed wire fence, shimmy up a drain pipe, and eventually sneak into the Queen's bedroom.

While reports at the time said Fagen and the Queen had a long conversation before he was apprehended by palace security, Fagen told The Independent the Queen didn't stick around to chat: "She went past me and ran out of the room; her little bare feet running across the floor."

21. She technically owns all the dolphins in the UK.

The HMAS Vengeance seen from a helicopter, as the Australian Naval crew spell out the signature of Queen Elizabeth II on the deck, in 1954.
The HMAS Vengeance seen from a helicopter, as the Australian Naval crew spell out the signature of Queen Elizabeth II on the deck, in 1954.
Keystone, Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In addition to owning all of the country's dolphins, she owns all the sturgeon and whales, too. A still-valid statute from the reign of King Edward II in 1324 states, "Also the King shall have ... whales and sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the realm," meaning most aquatic creatures are technically labeled "fishes royal," and are claimed on behalf of the Crown.

As the song goes, "Rule, Britannia! Britannia rules the waves!"

22. She has her own special money to give to the poor.

Queen Elizabeth II hands out maundy money in 2004.
Queen Elizabeth II hands out maundy money in 2004.
PHIL NOBLE, AFP/Getty Images

Known as "Maundy Money," the Queen has silver coins—currently with Elizabeth's likeness on the front—that are given to pensioners in a ceremony called Maundy Thursday. The royal custom dates back to the 13th century, in which the royal family was expected to wash the feet of and distribute gifts to penniless subjects as a symbolic gesture to honor Jesus’s act of washing the feet of the poor in the Bible. Once the 18th century rolled around and washing people's dirty feet wasn't seen as befitting of a royal, the act was replaced with money allowances bequeathed by the monarch.

23. Gin is her drink of choice.

Queen Elizabeth II sipping a drink.

The Queen drinks gin mixed with Dubonnet (a fortified wine) and a slice of lemon on the rocks every day before lunch. She also reportedly drinks wine at lunch and has a glass of champagne every evening.

24. She created her own breed of dogs.

Queen Elizabeth with her dog Susan, circa 1959.
Queen Elizabeth with her dog Susan, circa 1959.
AFP, Getty Images

Elizabeth has a famous, avowed love of Corgis (she has owned more than 30 of them during her reign; her last one, Willow, passed away in 2018), but what about Dorgis? She currently owns two Dorgis (Candy and Vulcan), a crossbreed she engineered when one of her Corgis mated with a Dachshund named Pipkin that belonged to Princess Margaret.

25. She's on social media ... kind of.

Queen Elizabeth II tours a Canadian Blackberry factory in 2010.
Queen Elizabeth II tours a Canadian Blackberry factory in 2010.
John Stillwell, Pool/Getty Images

The Queen joined Twitter in July 2009 under the handle @RoyalFamily, and sent the first tweet herself, but hasn't personally maintained the page since then (she has a digital communications team for that). She's also on Facebook (and no, you cannot poke The Royal Family) and in March 2019, the Royal Family posted its first Instagram.

This story originally ran in 2017.