You don’t get to be a 90-year-old world leader without cheating death a few times, and Queen Elizabeth is no exception. This steely royal is a total badass who laughs in the face of danger and just gets on with things, no matter what.
World War II
Still just Princess Elizabeth when the Second World War broke out, the future queen spent her formative years with the threat of German domination hanging over her head. Buckingham Palace was bombed no fewer than three times during the Blitz and suffered nine direct hits, killing one person. While King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the future Queen Mother) were in residence at the time, the young princesses were fortunate to have escaped to Windsor Castle for the duration of the war and remained unscathed. In fact, Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service when she turned 18 and learned how to repair military trucks, which makes her at least 15 times more badass than most modern men I know.
The Lithgow Plot
While undertaking a tour of Australia over the festive season of 1970-71, the queen was reportedly the subject of a strange assassination attempt. The would-be killers rolled a large log onto the train tracks upon which the queen was due to travel between Sydney and Orange, with the thought that the train would derail and smash into an embankment, killing all aboard. While the train did in fact hit the log, it was traveling at an unusually slow speed when it did so, and it did not derail. The details of this unusual (not to mention unlikely) plot come courtesy of retired Detective Superintendent Cliff McHardy, who didn’t speak of the incident until 2009 and claims the Australian government ordered the local police to keep quiet about it.
An obsessed teen
During the annual Trooping of the Colour parade in 1981, a teenager obsessed with the assassination attempts on Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II tried to commit his own name to history. Marcus Sarjeant was unable to purchase ammunition under strict British gun laws, but that didn’t stop him from his sick fantasy. On June 13, six shots rang out as Queen Elizabeth rode on horseback through the streets of London — but the monarch barely batted a royal eyelash. She kept expert control of her spooked horse and kept on going. Interestingly, a tourist standing next to Sarjeant unwittingly snapped a photo at the exact moment he took aim at the queen, showing how disastrous the situation could have easily become.
The Michael Fagan incident
The very next year, in 1982, Queen Elizabeth could have been murdered in her bed but for her own fleet feet. In the early morning hours of July 9, Michael Fagan broke into the palace and found his way to the queen’s private apartment, entering her bedroom, and perched upon her bed. While he initially said the queen calmly spoke to him for several minutes until palace guards arrived, he later revealed she fled immediately and summoned help. He remained on the bed while a footman brought him cigarettes and a glass of whiskey, which he enjoyed until police arrived.
An overzealous guard
The queen enjoys a leisurely late night walk around palace grounds when she suffers from insomnia, but one of these moonlight strolls nearly cost her her life. An ex-guardsman told The Times UK that he was patrolling inside the palace perimeter walls at 3 a.m. one early morn when he saw a shadowy figure approach and shouted his demand for identification. To his surprise, it was the queen. “Bloody hell, Your Majesty, I nearly shot you,” he unthinkingly blurted. But she remained calm in the face of such impertinence. “That’s quite all right,” she replied. “Next time I’ll ring through beforehand so you don’t have to shoot me.” Prince Andrew had a similar experience in 2013, but did not respond with nearly as dry a wit.
The celebrity curse of 2016
The god-awful year of 2016 claimed some majorly iconic world figures, and the world feared Queen Elizabeth would be one of them when her usual holiday trip to her beloved Sandringham was delayed due to what palace officials called a “heavy cold.” While she did head to her country home just a few days later, she skipped her usual church services on both Christmas and New Year’s Day. Rumors flew that she was on death’s door, but as the first week of 2017 draws to a close the queen has resumed official duties such as her famous red boxes of paperwork, and even gave her trusted Page of the Chambers, Ray Wheaton, the honor of Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order during her recovery.
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