The younger generation of royals are known for the jokes — especially Prince Harry — but it turns out that Queen Elizabth II is truly top dog when it comes to quick-witted retorts. A common criticism of the British monarchy is that the senior royals are too serious, so it’s nice to see that when she’s in the right mood, the queen is perfectly capable of having a bit of fun and letting a joke fly.
As Prince Harry once revealed of his relatives, “They are very funny together. My family is the same as any other family when it comes to humor behind closed doors.” So if you think of Her Majesty as prim and proper, be prepared to witness a totally different side of the queen in these hilarious anecdotes.
Keep scrolling to see all the times the queen proved she was the funniest royal in the bunch.
Queen Elizabeth Head Scarf
Queen Elizabeth's former protection officer, Richard Griffin, recounted an amusing incident involving a group of American tourists while she was walking near Balmoral, her estate in Scotland. At the time, the queen was wearing a tweed coat and a head scarf when a group approached her, asking, "Have you ever met the Queen?" Her response was, "No," before pointing at Griffin, saying, "But he has."
Artist Juliet Pannett recalled another hilarious case of misidentification. When she was painting a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, the monarch told her about a funny run-in she had while out buying groceries. "In one of her stories, she told us she had been at Sandringham one day," Pannett said. "They were having tea when they ran out of cake. So, the queen said she had gone down to the local shop to buy some, wearing a head scarf. As she came out of the shop, an elderly lady said, 'Good heavens, you look just like the queen.' She replied 'How reassuring' and just kept walking. It was a wonderful tale."
Queen Elizabeth Music
For almost as long as she's been ruler, Queen Elizabeth has attended the Royal Variety Performance, an annual televised variety show that's held to raise money for the Royal Variety Charity. In 1960, one of the musical guests was the Everly Brothers. The sibling duo performed their hit song "Cathy's Clown," but the queen was apparently not a fan. She reportedly leaned over to her lady-in-waiting and remarked, "They sound like two cats being strangled!"
The queen is seemingly not a rock 'n' roll fan. In 2005, she met musician Eric Clapton at a reception at Buckingham Palace that was being held to celebrate the country's music industry. When Clapton introduced himself to the queen, she asked, "Have you been playing a long time?" Fortunately, Clapton didn't take offense at the queen's not knowing who he was. “It must be 45 years now,” he calmly replied.
Queen Elizabeth Coronation
At her coronation, Queen Elizabeth had to wear a set of heavy robes. Before the ceremony began, she turned to the Archbishop of Canterbury, asking him to give her a little nudge to "get me started." The carpet at Westminster Abbey had been installed with its pile — aka its fibers — going the wrong way. As a result, the queen couldn't easily move because the fringe of her robes kept getting caught in the carpet's pile, clawing at her back when she tried to walk. Queen Elizabeth was determined to have her coronation televised — talk about added pressure!
Queen Elizabeth Niagara Falls
In her book The Wicked Wit ($8.99, Amazon), author Karen Dolby reveals the queen wasn't blown away by Niagara Falls when she visited Canada. "It looks very... damp," the queen commented.
She had a similarly unimpressed reaction when protesters in New Zealand pelted her with eggs during a visit down under in 1986. At a banquet dinner a few nights later, Queen Elizabeth joked, "I myself prefer my New Zealand eggs for breakfast." As a ruler, you have to expect that some people won't like you, but we're still in awe of how easily Queen Elizabeth shook off the egg-throwing incident.
Queen Elizabeth Purse
The queen is very rarely spotted without her purse (she does need it to send secret signals to her staff, after all!), and one time a guest decided to remark on it. When Roger Moore — aka James Bond — and his then-wife Luisa Mattioli were with the queen, Mattioli asked Her Majesty why she needed to carry her purse around Buckingham Palace. The queen wryly replied, "This house is very big, you know."
Of course, "big" is quite an understatement. At 860,000 square feet, Buckingham Palace contains 775 rooms across its five floors. Inside there's a doctor's office, a post office, and even a movie theater. Outside, Buckingham Palace is home to the largest garden in London. The lush 40 acres can fit 8,000 people comfortably. Wow!
Queen Elizabeth Carriage
The queen is always careful to make sure she's visible when she's out on official business. That's why she wears neon outfits — so that people who have waited hours to see her will be able to catch a glimpse of her brightly colored clothes. To further ensure that people can see her, the queen isn't afraid to tell someone off. One commander learned that the hard way when he stood in front of her during a state visit, blocking the crowd's view of the royal carriage. "Actually, Captain, I think it's me they've come to see," the queen joked. Point taken!