Elizabeth II passed on September 8, 2022, ending the longest reign of any British monarch. Although she was the face of what many people consider an oppressive and antiquated system, Elizabeth herself was sublime at interpersonal communication.
Even people who had reason to hate the queen left their meetings thoroughly charmed - with a couple of exceptions. Here are a few unique encounters with the departed royal.
- Photo: Some Like It Hot / United Artists
Marilyn Monroe met Elizabeth way back in 1956 when she was in London attending a Royal Command Performance with her husband, Arthur Miller. They met on a receiving line.
The actress and queen were the same age, and Monroe said Elizabeth was "very warmhearted" and “radiate[d] sweetness," while Elizabeth called Monroe “a very sweet person." However, Elizabeth “felt sorry for her, because she was so nervous that she had licked all of her lipstick off.”
Both women's accounts come from When Marilyn Met the Queen by Michelle Morgan.
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The Queen Tricked An American Tourist
On a pleasant day in Scotland, Elizabeth was walking with her bodyguard near her Balmoral Castle when she crossed paths with an oblivious US tourist. He asked where she was from and if she had ever met the queen. “I haven't, but Dick here meets her regularly,” was her witty response, according to bodyguard Richard (Dick) Griffin.
Naturally, the tourist turned his attention to Griffin and asked what the queen is like. Griffin described his response: “Because I was with her a long time and I knew I could pull her leg, I said, 'Oh, she can be very cantankerous at times, but she's got a lovely sense of humour.'”
The tourist then asked the queen (without knowing she was the queen) to take a picture of him and Griffin. She did, then Griffin took an image of the hiker and his companion with the queen.
Griffin said the queen told him:
I'd love to be a fly on the wall when he shows those photographs to friends in America and hopefully someone tells him who I am.
Among the violent conflicts that involved Queen Elizabeth's Britain was the Troubles, a decades-long guerrilla war fought between people who wanted Northern Ireland to join Ireland and those who wanted it to remain with the UK. Thirteen years after the Troubles officially ended, Elizabeth became the first British monarch to visit independent Ireland, laying a wreath for fallen Irish freedom fighters while there in 2011.
The following year, in 2012, she visited Belfast and shook hands with Martin McGuinness, the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland and a former leader of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). McGuinness said of his former symbolic enemy:
That remarkable woman has made a great contribution to peace in Ireland. Shaking hands with me was an important step in cementing the peace process and I hold her in great esteem for doing something that can’t have been easy for her.
One of the IRA's notable acts was the assassination of Elizabeth's cousin, Lord Mountbatten.
Elizabeth was known for her wit. Daniel Craig experienced her ma-jester-ic humor firsthand while filming a skit for the London 2012 Olympics. In it, James Bond and the queen parachute into the stadium. Although the execution is funny enough, Craig said that while they were having their photo taken, Elizabeth quipped, “Oh no, he’s the one that doesn’t smile.”
He called the queen a “very funny" person who “wants to crack a joke."