Queen Elizabeth II is now the world’s longest-reigning queen, having become the Head of the Commonwealth in 1952. Some of us might expect that a leader with such a complex and stressful public role would have a dour or unpleasant demeanor. Not so for Queen Elizabeth, who is well-known for her sharp wit and sometimes biting humor.
Whether she’s cracking everyone else up or just enjoying a good laugh herself, we can’t get enough of the Queen’s terrific sense of humor. Here are some of our favorite times that she told a hilarious joke, threw shade at someone, or just ended up in a funny photo. Wait until you see the time she photo-bombed some soccer players.
She’s An Animal Lover, But…
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She’s not a fan of animals that hog the spotlight with rude behavior when she’s around, apparently. The photo was taken as the Queen arrived at her summer home at Balmoral Castle in Scotland for her annual stay there. She was greeted by the Royal Regiment of Scotland and their mascot Cruachan IV, a Shetland pony that just couldn’t seem to hold it any longer.
As you can see, one of the guards couldn’t stop himself from laughing at the improbable sight. The Queen herself broke out into a wide smile shortly after this picture was taken and she had gotten a little further away from the smelly situation.
Next: is the Queen a Game of Thrones fan?
“You May Look At The Iron Throne, But Don’t Dare Touch It”
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Game of Thrones fans everywhere would probably jump at the chance to sit on the show’s iconic Iron Throne (even if it might not be super comfy). Queen Elizabeth II visited the G.O.T. set in Belfast in 2015 and the world eagerly awaited photos of her sitting in the heavy metal seat. We were all disappointed when she opted not to, but this photo of her admiring the throne from a distance is a great consolation prize.
It turns out that there is a good reason she turned down the chance to occupy the Iron Throne. As showrunner David Benioff explained on Late Night With Seth Meyers, “she’s not allowed to. Apparently, the Queen of England is not allowed to sit on a foreign throne, so this is an esoteric rule we didn’t know about until that moment,” he said. “It looks like we’re saying, ‘Don’t touch, Queen.’” As if anyone could say that to her.
The Queen Is Not Above An Occasional Photo-bomb
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Twitter user Jayde Taylor posted this amazing selfie she took at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. In it, she and another member of the Australian hockey team are photo-bombed by a very unexpected face: Queen Elizabeth’s! She was not even scheduled to attend the games, making her appearance in the photo even more shocking.
Jayde wrote, “Ahhh The Queen photo-bombed our selfie!!” and also noticed that the Head of the Commonwealth made a point to put on a huge smile for the snapshot. The royals are not supposed to take selfies with fans, but who’s going to deny the Queen if she wants to jump into one?
That Time She Pretended To Be A White House Groundskeeper
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It’s not every day that you see the Queen of England digging a hole in a formal outfit while the U.S. President and First Lady look on. It might be unbelievable, but this scene is not a display at Madame Tussauds wax museum or some convincing celebrity look-alikes playing a prank.
The background is this: the Queen traveled to Washington, D.C. in 1991. While in town, she made an official visit to the White House where she and then-President George H. W. Bush planted a linden tree on the South Lawn. In 1937, Elizabeth’s father King George VI planted the same type of tree there but it was lost in a storm in 1990 so the Queen replaced it. This photo happened to catch a moment where it appeared that she was doing all the work (obviously, professional gardeners did the bulk of the digging and planting).
We’ll see some other U.S. Presidents on the list soon enough.
The Queen Catches Bats At The Castle Herself
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Yep, that’s right. While many of us run screaming from a room, demanding someone else kill the spider, here Her Royal Highness is, catching bats at Windsor Castle. Brian Hoey, a journalist who regularly chronicles the happenings of the royal family recalls this to be true.
Hoey said, “In the later afternoon it was quite common to see Her Majesty call for a butterfly net so that she could catch the bats which infest the upper reaches of the castle. She would catch them in the net, hand them to me and tell me to let them go outside. She was always very strict about them not being harmed.”
The Queen Poked Fun At Her Family’s Holiday Traditions
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In April 2018, Queen Elizabeth gave a tour of Buckingham Palace for a documentary called The Queen’s Green Planet. The topic of Christmas came up, and Elizabeth grabbed the opportunity to take a good-natured jab at Princes William and Harry.
“The problem is the children love knocking [the ornaments] off. My great-grandchildren do. Even the grandchildren [William and Harry] still.” She then shared her technique for stopping the misbehavior. “The great thing is to make them decorate it – then they’re a bit more careful,” she teased.
Did She Throw Shade At Trump With Her Jewelry Choice?
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The British royal family has long steered clear of politics, and Queen Elizabeth adheres to that policy. Most of the time. But earlier this year there were rumors about the Queen quietly insulting President Donald Trump during their July 2018 meeting. It was widely reported that during her meeting with Trump, the Queen wore a brooch given to her by Barack and Michelle Obama.
Not so fast, there. Trump was in the UK for three days. On the first day of his visit, she did wear the Obama jewels but did not meet with Trump. They met the following day. The Queen wore the Palm-Leaf Brooch, a family heirloom worn by her mother at King George’s funeral, for that visit. The day after meeting with Trump, she donned a brooch given to her by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau… who is not exactly best friends with Trump these days. Although the Queen is known for her subtle jokes and shade-throwing, we’ll probably never learn the real truth behind “broochgate.” She might have done it all just for a laugh.
Would You Believe She Made An Assassination Joke At A Garden Show?
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Nearly every year the Queen attends the Chelsea Flower Show. It’s been a tradition since Queen Alexandra opened the floral exhibition in 1913. At the 2016 show, Queen Elizabeth had a conversation with herb gardener Jekka McVicar, who later relayed details of the talk with Hello! magazine.
In the conversation, McVicar (who is now an Ambassador for health and well-being through gardening) explained to the Queen that lily of the valley flowers had historically been used as a poison. Elizabeth quickly replied, “I’ve been given two bunches this week. Perhaps they want me dead.”
Like Grandmother, Like Grandson
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An inspection from the Queen of England during your graduation ceremony would probably terrify anyone. But if your grandmother is the Queen, you might just crack a grin as she passes by.
That’s exactly what happened when this photo was snapped, as Harry graduated from Sandhurst Military Academy in 2006. It’s not clear whether the Queen or Prince Harry was the first to smile as they came face-to-face but there’s no denying that they both look rather mischievous here!
She’s An Equal Opportunity Shade-Thrower
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As we mentioned earlier, it’s still unclear whether the Queen dissed Donald Trump by wearing a brooch given to her by the Obamas. She’ll probably never confirm that one way or another.
But even if the jewelry was meant as an insult that doesn’t mean the Queen hasn’t thrown subtle shade at Obama, too. During a television interview with Sir David Attenborough, the Queen became annoyed by a helicopter flying overhead. “Why do they always go round and round when you want to talk?” she asked. “Sounds like President Trump, or President Obama.”
Read on to see how the Queen reacted to some protestors.
The Queen Can Even Laugh Off Protestors
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In 1986 the Queen and Prince Philip paid a state visit to New Zealand. As the pair traveled through Auckland in an open vehicle, two women dressed as police officers approached and pelted the car with eggs. The women were protesting a treaty between the British Crown and New Zealand’s native Maoris that was signed well over a century earlier.
Elizabeth II was hit on the thigh with one of the eggs. Although she was clearly unhappy about the attack, she later was able to joke about the incident. “New Zealand has long been renowned for its dairy produce, though I should say that I myself prefer my New Zealand eggs for breakfast,” she cracked.
Sometimes She Has a Dirty Sense Of Humor, And That’s OK
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Everyone is known to crack a dirty joke at one time or another, and the Queen is no different. One time Her Royal Highness was visiting an exhibition featuring the art of Lucian Freud. The British painter had developed his style to include many nude paintings, including his first full length nude in 1966.
While touring the exhibit, Queen Elizabeth II leaned over and whispered to her aide that she had been very careful, and made sure she “was not photographed between a pair of those great thighs.”
See what else she said about Freud that day.
“Yes, but not like that.”
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Both Queen Elizabeth II and Kate Middleton have visited artist Lucian Freud’s exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Freud was known for having his subjects pose (often nude) for long extensions of time while he painted them.
On the same day that Queen Elizabeth II visited the art exhibit, an art curator asked the queen if she, herself had ever posed for Lucian Freud. She reportedly smiled and said, “Yes, but not like that.” Her portrait by Freud was included in an exhibit at Windsor Castle, painted in a respectful manner, of course.
She Made President Reagan LOL At A State Dinner
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This photograph of Queen Elizabeth and President Reagan was snapped at a state dinner in San Francisco during one of her official visits to the United States. Reagan is obviously bowled over by something the Queen has just said during her address to the crowd… what was it?
With her usual deadpan delivery, Queen Elizabeth had made a joke about the northern California weather. “I knew before we came that we had exported many of our traditions to the United States, she said.” But I had not realized before that weather was one of them.”
The Queen Pokes Fun at Margaret Thatcher
Back when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, she and Queen Elizabeth II attended a diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace. The two women were known for butting heads, and the Queen often mimicked Thatcher’s over-the-top accent.
Thatcher had sat-out the reception the previous year, and when she showed up the following year she claimed she felt faint needed to rest. Elizabeth II was amused by the situation and told a guest. “Oh, look! She’s keeled over again.”
She’s A Pistol, That Woman
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Her sister Princess Margaret was a huge fan of music, and the Queen herself has met many musicians, including Elton John, The Beatles, The Spice Girls, and The Rolling Stones. She famously refused to knight Mick Jagger for partying with her younger sister and putting her in danger.
In the 1960s the Queen attended a concert performed by the Everly Brothers, and she was less than impressed with the American country-rock band. After hearing them perform “Cathy’s Clown,” Queen Elizabeth II turned to her lady-in-waiting and exclaimed, “They sound like two cats being strangled.”
See which famous artist the Queen had no idea who they were.
The Queen Burns Her Cousin’s Husband
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At an event, Queen Elizabeth II was speaking with her first cousin, Margaret Rhodes, and her husband, Denys Rhodes. Denys was a thriller writer, best known for his novel The Syndicate that was also adapted into a film.
Elizabeth II asked Denys about his progress on his latest novel. He told her, “I desperately need a title.” The Queen reportedly replied, “I cannot think of a reason for giving you one.”
On Why She Wears Bright Colors
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Queen Elizabeth II dresses to the nines, as Her Royal Highness is expected to. She wears the Royal Jewels, extravagant hats made for every occasion, and she’s known for wearing bright colors head-to-toe for her royal appearances.
When someone once asked her why she chooses such bright outfits, she replied, “If I wore beige, nobody would know who I am.” Of course, everyone would recognize Her Majesty, no matter her outfit, but her clever response shows her sense of humor.
See what she said when someone asked her why she carries a purse.
Well, That Makes Sense
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If you’ve noticed one of the themes here, it’s that if you ask the Queen a question about herself, she’s bound to serve you a witty response. At one event held at the Buckingham Palace, Roger Moore who played James Bond was in attendance.
He brought his then-wife (unclear which one, as he’s had four wives) who asked the Queen why she chose to carry a purse with her while she was attending events in Buckingham Palace, where she lives. “This house is very big, you know,” she told her.
Step Aside, Captain
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It’s very important for Her Royal Highness to be seen by the people she rules, and for her to be able to wave to and greet the crowd wherever she goes. On one such occasion, Queen Elizabeth II had arrived for a state visit, and the crowd was large, as expected.
She rode in the Royal Carriage, however, an escort commander was blocking the crowd’s view of the Queen as she rode along. The Queen wasn’t just going to let this happen. Instead, she told the commander, “Actually, Captain, I think it’s me they’ve come to see.” He must have turned beat red.
Don’t Mess With Her Corgis
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Queen Elizabeth II has had an affection for Corgi dogs since she was a young girl. She absolutely adores them and they are allowed to do whatever they wish. No one should dare speak ill of her beloved dogs, but the controversial Princess Michael of Kent couldn’t help herself.
The same woman who wore what appeared to be a racist brooch to meet Meghan Markle for the first time said in an interview that the Queen’s Corgis “should be shot.” The Queen took a shot of her own, replying, “They’re better behaved than she is!”
Who is Eric Clapton?
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The Queen has a lot of royal duties to attend to, so we can all forgive her for not keeping up with music and pop culture all of the time. She’s made some cringe-worthy comments to Britain’s top musicians, not recognizing who the members of Led Zeppelin were or their contribution to rock.
She also didn’t know who Eric Clapton was when she met him. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and 18-time Grammy Award-winning artist introduced himself to the Queen. She asked him, “Have you been playing a long time?” To which Clapton replied, “It must be 45 years now.”
“You Look Just Like The Queen”
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Have you ever mistaken someone for a celebrity? Well, this is like that, only the opposite. One woman was lucky enough to bump into the Her Royal Highness while Queen Elizabeth II was out on a walk.
She was casually dressed and trying not to call attention to herself when a stranger commented to her that she “looked just like the Queen.” Instead of a polite response, the Queen decided to take a jab, and replied: “How reassuring.” That woman must have been totally baffled as to what just happened.
Niagara Falls? Not Impressed
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Having become the Head of the Commonwealth in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II has been able to visit some of the most incredible places in the world. Many of these visits are chosen for her, and she accepts the invitations in stride, whether or not she’s personally interested.
The Queen has visited Niagara Falls on several occasions, including in 1951 and 2016. When asked what she thought about the three great waterfalls on the border of Ontario and New York, she replied, “It looks very damp.”
She’s Not Worried About Car Damage
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How would you imagine that you’d react if a concrete brick fell on top of your car? The average person would more than likely be upset. And you would think that someone of high status might have even more reason to be upset, as their car is very expensive. But that isn’t the case with the Queen.
When a cement brick fell on top of her car during a visit to Belfast in Northern Ireland, she just shrugged and replied, “It’s a strong car.”
She’s Not Afraid
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It’s understandable that high-status members of society and celebrities need a great amount of security, especially when attending events with large crowds. But even at 92-years-old, Queen Elizabeth II is not afraid of mingling with the people, and waving off the recommendation of more security.
Her Royal Highness is often encouraged by members of her staff to increase her security, to which she replies, “I have to be seen to be believed.” Even after having lived through some of the worst assassinations on presidents in the world’s history, the Queen appears fearless.
She Drives “Like A Bat Out Of Hell”
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Unlike the President of the United States, the Queen is often spotted driving herself to and from several of her country estates. And yes, at 92-years-old, she’s still driving, and people have a few things to say about her driving skills.
Her cousin Margaret Rhodes has said she drives, “Like a bat out of hell,” and she never wears her seatbelt! Pedestrians around Windsor Castle have even made formal complaints about the Queen’s reckless driving.
The 1977 Silver Jubilee Ceremony Went Terribly Wrong, And The Queen Thought It Was Funny
The year 1977 marked Queen Elizabeth II’s 25th year as the Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms and a Silver Jubilee ceremony marked the occasion. During the ceremony, the Queen was to light a beacon at Snow Hill in Windsor Great Park, and people across the UK would then follow suit, lighting their own.
Nothing went correctly, as the pyrotechnics expert hired foolishly packed the beacon filled with fireworks to ensure it would light quickly enough. The beacon exploded prematurely, causing a deafening boom of fireworks. The Queen laughed, “I can’t think why you bothered to ask me [to do it!]” The pyrotechnics expert replied, “Your Majesty, I’m afraid it’s all going terribly wrong. In fact, everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong.” Queen Elizabeth II replied, “Oh good. What fun!”
The Queen Plays Along For A James Bond Stunt
In 2012, during the opening ceremony of the Olympics, people were in for a real treat. Queen Elizabeth II partnered up with Daniel Craig (who played James Bond) and director Danny Boyle to create a short video.
The video shows the queen jumping from a helicopter down onto the London Stadium. Although Gary Connery was the stuntman to actually perform this, it showed that the Queen has a sense of humor and likes to have fun. The video has been watched 12 million times on YouTube.
She Told Justin Trudeau He Made Her Feel Old
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In November 2015, Queen Elizabeth II sat down with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for dinner. They two got along well, and Trudeau wanted to show the Queen how much he knew about and respected her reign. He told her that he was the 12th Canadian prime minister to serve during her reign, which is 65 years and counting.
When the Queen raised her glass to make a toast, she said, “Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister of Canada, for making me feel so old!” He later tweeted that she was “forever young” in his eyes.