We all know Queen Elizabeth II lives in a huge palace and has an impressive collection of jewelry. But the British monarch also owns some pretty bizarre, unexpected things.
From aquatic creatures to shopping malls, here are the weirdest and most wonderful things the Queen can rightfully claim as hers.
London’s First Shopping Street
A huge amount of historic property in the U.K. is owned by the British monarchy and managed by the Crown Estate. According to The Independent, this includes the entirety of London’s Regent Street, one of the world’s most famous roads.
Located in the heart of the city’s West End, it runs 1.25 miles long and attracts more than 7.5 million visitors per year. In 1819, Regent Street became London’s first purpose-built shopping street; today it’s home to international brands like Kate Spade, J.Crew, Burberry and Kiehl’s.
All The Swans On The River Thames
The Queen is known for her love of dogs, but her collection of “pets” includes a wide range of creatures. Technically, she owns all of the unclaimed mute swans on open water in England and Wales.
Officially, she “retains the right to claim ownership of any unmarked mute swan swimming in open waters, but this right is mainly exercised on certain stretches of the River Thames,” and she shares ownership of the birds with the Worshipful Company of Vintners and the Worshipful Company of Dyers, an arrangement that dates back to the 15th century. In 2009, the Queen became the first known monarch to take part in the Swan Upping, a centuries-long tradition that involves an annual counting of her royal brood of swans.
All The Dolphins In England And Wales
It’s not only swans that Queen Elizabeth II has a solid claim on. A statute from 1324, during King Edward II’s reign, stated that “the King shall have whales and sturgeons taken in the sea or elsewhere within the realm.” According to Time, the statute is still valid today and it doesn’t only cover whales and sturgeons — dolphins and porpoises are also recognized as “Fishes Royal.”
The Tower Of London
The mighty Tower of London, built by William the Conqueror in the 1070s, is home to the Crown Jewels and one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Its official name is Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London. The Tower comes with a flock of seven ravens (according to legend, the kingdom and the Tower of London will fall if six resident ravens ever leave the fortress), which presumably belong to Her Majesty as well.
Her Own ATM
There’s nothing worse than running out of cash when you need it. While it’s debatable whether the Queen needs to have much cash at her disposal, she does have a private ATM in the basement of Buckingham Palace, thanks to Coutts bank. It’s available to members of the royal family, and it’s unlikely to run out of notes.
A Gold Record
The Queen was awarded a gold disc without singing a single note, after a recording of a concert to celebrate her Golden Jubilee in 2002 sold 100,000 copies in its first week of release. This made her the first member of the Royal Family to be awarded a gold disc from the recording industry. Titled “Party at the Palace,” it featured the vocal talents of Elton John, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Paul McCartney and Annie Lennox.
A Bat Colony
The Queen is known for her love of animals, but she didn’t ask for the bat colony she shares Balmoral Castle with. Apparently, the ballroom of her Scottish holiday home is also home to a group of pipistrelle bats who nest in the rafters. According to The Sun, the Queen points them out to her staff so they can catch them with nets and release them into the wild.
More Than 150,000 Works Of Art
The Royal Collection, a huge collection of art held in trust by the Queen for the British nation, includes 150,000 paintings by the likes of Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian and Raphael. It’s one of the largest and most important art collections in the world and one of the last great European royal collections to remain intact, and Queen Elizabeth II is in charge of the entire thing. Some of these pieces hang in museums and other public places, while others are displayed in royal palaces and estates.
An Aberdeen Angus Cow
During an official visit to Canada in 2005, the Queen was presented with a gift at the Calgary Stampede agricultural show: an Aberdeen Angus cow. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to take it home with her to Buckingham Palace, so the cow stayed in Calgary as the founding member of the Stampede’s own herd of cattle. Other animals gifted to the Queen over the years include a Lippizaner grey stallion from the president of Slovenia and a white Nguni bull from King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu of the Zulus in South Africa.
Two Tortoises From The Seychelles
The Queen was able to bring one animal gift home with her from her foreign travels — a pair of native Aldabra giant tortoises she received during an official visit to the Seychelles in 1972. They were placed in the care of ZSL London Zoo, along with an African forest elephant Jumbo gifted to the monarch from President Ahmadou Ahidjo of Cameroon. Other animals gifted to the Queen that ended up at ZSL London Zoo include two American beavers and an Arctic fox from Hudson’s Bay Company, Canada.
The World’s Largest Clear-Cut Diamond
The Great Star of Africa, also known as the Cullinan after South African mining magnate Sir Thomas Cullinan, is the world’s largest clear-cut diamond and has a price tag of about $51 million. In 1910, it and several other stones cut from a gigantic diamond unearthed in South Africa five years earlier were presented to Mary of Teck, the consort of George V and Elizabeth II’s grandmother. The diamond was incorporated into the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, the three-foot-long staff held by the monarch during their coronation. Today, the diamond forms part of the Crown Jewels.
4 Guinness World Records
Queen Elizabeth is a world record holder on no less than four counts. On Dec. 21, 2007, she took the record for the oldest reigning monarch from her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who reigned until the age of 81 years and 244 days. Queen Elizabeth is also the world’s longest-reigning queen and the world’s wealthiest queen. Plus, her image appears on the currency of at least 35 sovereign countries — more than any other person.
Half Of The UK’s Shoreline
The Queen doesn’t just own city streets and properties. According to the Crown Estate website, she owns the “territorial seabed out to 12 nautical miles and around half of the foreshore around England, Wales and Northern Ireland.” This means the hand-harvesting of seaweed for commercial purposes requires a license from The Crown Estate but collection for personal use doesn’t.
An Offshore Wind Farm
As the owner of the British seabed, it follows that the Queen owns several offshore wind farms. This includes Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, which is located seven miles off the coast of Kent in the North Sea and was the largest offshore wind farm in the world when it opened in 2010.
Millions Of Square Feet Of Retail Space
Step into a shopping mall in the U.K., and you might just find yourself on royal property — sort of. Through the British Crown’s real estate empire, the Queen owns (or partly owns) multiple retail parks, shopping centers and leisure properties, amounting to a staggering 7 million square feet of space. You’re probably not going to rub shoulders with Her Majesty while you’re there, though.
A Baptismal Font
In 1840, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert commissioned a new baptismal font for their first child, Princess Victoria, the Princess Royal. The Lily Font is now part of the Royal Collection, under the ownership of the Queen, and has been used at the baptisms of almost all members of the royal family ever since. It was the second of only two English silver fonts; the first was made for the newborn Charles II in 1660.
A National Collection Of Mulberries
In the 17th century, King James I planted a large mulberry grove on the site now occupied by Buckingham Palace. His plan to rear his own silkworms was unsuccessful, but the royal connection to the fruit has endured and Queen Elizabeth II is owner of the plant’s official British National Collection. According to the Daily Mail, she has 29 species of them on the grounds of Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace.
When she needs a break from Buckingham Palace, the Queen tends to go to Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, or Sandringham House on her Norfolk estate. But if she was ever inclined to mingle with the common people, she has plenty of wide-open spaces to choose from. Included in her impressive property portfolio are Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill in London.
Queen Victoria’s Sketchbook
Like every family, the royals pass personal artifacts down through generations, some of which now form part of The Royal Collection. Queen Victoria’s sketchbook is one of the most interesting. The reigning Queen’s great-great-grandmother was an avid amateur artist who sketched every day during her regular visits to Balmoral.
A New Breed Of Dog (Kind Of)
The Queen’s lifelong love of Corgi dogs is well-known — she and her sister, Princess Margaret, got their first Corgi, Dookie, in 1933. Sadly, the Queen’s last Corgi, named Willow, died in 2018 at the age of 14. However, the Queen still has two faithful canine companions. When one of her Corgis mated with a dachshund named Pipkin belonging to Princess Margaret, the “Dorgi” was created, and Vulcan and Candy can often be seen at the Queen’s side. Now, whether these royal dogs were the very first combination of dachshund-Corgi to ever mate is up for discussion.
A Sloth And Two Black Jaguars
At the age of 93, the Queen continues to attend royal engagements and carry out her official duties. If she was to be compared to an animal, it definitely wouldn’t be a sloth. However, she does own one of these slow-moving creatures. On a state visit to Brazil in 1968, the Queen was gifted a sloth (together with two black jaguars named Marques and Aizita) from the Prefect of Brasília. The animals were sent to ZSL London Zoo.
Several Caribbean Islands
Technically, the Queen owns the land of any commonwealth she reigns over, which includes Australia, Canada and several Caribbean islands. This means the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are all owned — sort of — by the Queen. She has a specific title in each of these countries. For instance, in Jamaica she is known as Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of Jamaica and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth.
More Than 200 Launer Handbags
The Queen rarely goes out without her handbag, and she has a firm favorite. Luxury London designer Launer is her brand of choice, and its CEO estimates that Her Majesty owns about 200 of them, per The Telegraph. Apparently, her favorite styles are the Royale and Traviata.
A Huge Faberge Collection
Queen Alexandra, the wife of King Edward VII, started the royal tradition of collecting eggs and accessories by Russian jeweler and goldsmith Fabergé. The 600-piece collection now forms part of the Royal Collection, some of which is on display to the public. Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, was a more recent Fabergé fan, and formed her own impressive collection of flower ornaments, bibelots, boxes and photo frames.
An Extra Birthday
A second birthday would sound good to most people — more cake, more presents, another party — but the Queen’s extra birthday was created for the public. She was born on April 21, 1926, but her official birthday is celebrated in June because there’s a greater chance of good weather, which makes it easier for the public to attend her annual birthday parade, know as Trooping the Colour. The parade has marked the official birthday of the British Sovereign for over 260 years.