Skip to main contentSkip to footer

The time a guard failed to recognise the Queen: 19 hilarious anecdotes from the royal family

Queen Elizabeth II used to collect pepper grinders!  

Royal anecdotes
Share this:

With all the pomp and tradition, the royal family is endlessly fascinating to us, but what do we know about them as people? Thomas Blaikie's book, What A Thing To Say To The Queen: A Collection Of Royal Anecdotes From The House Of Windsor, fills in the gaps. 

He has collected hilarious and touching stories about the world's most famous family. 

WATCH: Cheeky young British royals

Keep scrolling to discover some of the most charming and colourful tales ever to emerge from Buckingham Palace. 

1. The Queen

queen smiling in burgundy coat © Getty Images

The Queen used to collect pepper grinders. One of her favourites, a present from a friend, came from an Italian restaurant in the shape of a plastic waiter. 

When you turn the head for pepper, it shrieks with a joke Italian accent: "You're breaking my neck!" which the Queen is said to have found most amusing.

2. The Queen

queen in car wearing blue hat © Getty Images

The late Queen drew up at the Royal Windsor Horse show in 1991 where she was greeted by a guard saying: "Sorry love, you can't come in without a sticker."

Her Majesty, unfazed by the incident, replied: "I think if you check, I will be allowed to come in!" The guard later admitted he thought she was "some old dear" who was lost.

3. The Queen

Queen elizabeth as young girl © Getty Images

As a child, Princess Elizabeth, nicknamed Lilibet, used to ask for Christmas presents from discount chain Woolworths.

4. The Queen and Prince Philip

Elizabeth and Prince Philip shortly after they announced their engagement © Getty

Shortly after their marriage the Queen and Prince Philip went to Rome for her birthday. Although she wanted to celebrate with a low-key dinner at a restaurant, Philip organised a grand Embassy party.

The Queen was so annoyed with Philip that she didn't speak to him for several days.

5. The Queen

queen on chair with black handbag © Getty Images

The Queen's handbag contained good luck charms from her children, including miniature dogs and horses, and family photos. Another reason it never left her side was because it was used as a signalling device. 

Placed on the table it meant she wished to leave in five minutes. Switched from arm to arm meant she must move on and talk to someone else.

6. Prince William

kate and william eating cookies © Getty Images

Because Prince William is such a fan, a second cake made entirely of McVitie's chocolate biscuits was served at the reception of his wedding to Kate Middleton.

7. The Queen

queen wearing bright dress on red carpet© Getty Images

Famous for wearing colourful clothing, the Queen once remarked: "I can't wear beige because people won't know who I am."

8. The Queen

queen wearing imperial state crown © Getty Images

When the Imperial State Crown wasn't available (it is usually on display at the Tower of London), the Queen practised for the State Opening of Parliament with a sack of flour on her head of equivalent weight.

9. Princess Margaret

princess margaret in blue coat © Getty Images

"Run him down!" Princess Margaret would order her chauffeur if she saw Tommy Lascelles, her elderly neighbour at Kensington Palace.

 As the Queen’s private secretary he was against her relationship with divorced Group Captain Peter Townsend. The Princess was forced to give up her lover and blamed Tommy for ruining her life.

10. The Queen

queen giving speech next to President Bush © Getty Images

After arriving in America for a state visit in 1991, the Queen found herself struggling to see over the top of a podium as she delivered her speech. 

President George Bush Sr had been asked to pull out a small platform for the Queen to stand on. But as he forgot, all the crowd could see was 'a talking hat'.

11. The Queen

queen getting onto plane © Getty Images

The Queen was lunching at Windsor Castle with racing friends. "Boeing 747," she said as a plane flew overhead. Then she said: "That’s an Airbus." 

As Windsor is right next to Heathrow, planes can be heard roaring past at all hours. The Queen used to be able to identify each type by its different sound.

12. King Charles

queen sitting in chair next to Prince Charles© Getty Images

Charles often takes a nap whilst at dinner parties. Hostesses in the know continue talking and nobody notices. Even two minutes ‘out’ is said to refresh him completely.

13. The Queen

queen at races in red coat and hat © Getty Images

One Christmas Day, a junior footman thought the Queen was getting up from the table so he removed her chair for her. 

Unfortunately, she wasn't, and as the Queen went to sit back down she fell straight to the floor. Surprised but unhurt, the Queen was soon as amused as the rest of her family.

14. The Queen

queen taking tea break in canteen © Getty Images

As a young adult Princess Elizabeth enjoyed a breakfast of bacon and eggs with a cup of tea.

15. The Queen Mother

queen mother at races in red hat © Getty Images

The Queen Mother had such a wonderful collection of hats that her attendants would often try them on for fun. 

She found out and told the staff: "I quite understand if you want to wear my hats and other things, but do try to put them back where you found them!"

16. Prince Philip

prince philip driving car © Getty Images

To avoid arriving late, Prince Philip had given his valet the task of feeding him sandwiches while he drove.

17. Prince Harry

prince harry aged 2 wearing parachute uniform© Getty Images

"The Queen will be here at teatime," a courtier once told a young Prince Harry at Sandringham. To which he asked: "Who’s the Queen?"

18. The Queen

Queen elizabeth as young girl © Getty Images

A young Princess Elizabeth once poured a bottle of ink over her head in protest because she was bored of writing out columns of verbs in her French lessons.

19. The Queen

queen at newbury races © Getty Images

Unfazed by Michael Fagan, the intruder who broke into her bedroom in 1982, the Queen settled into her bed after his removal so that she could enjoy her tea as planned.

LISTEN: The challenges faced by those who marry into the British royal family

More Royalty

See more