International Travel

Hidden talents of the British royal family

Hidden talents of the British royal family

You'll never guess which members of the British royal family possess these surprising hidden talents!

Guess who can change a spark plug?

Queen Elizabeth II got her hands dirty working on cars during World War II. After months of begging her father, King George VI, the 18-year-old then-Princess Elizabeth joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. Known as “Elizabeth Windsor,” she trained not only as a mechanic but also as a truck driver.

Guess who can toot a flute?

When Kate Middleton was in college with her future husband, Prince William, she was playing flute in the St Andrews Inaugural Chamber Orchestra, as well as with a group known as the “Tootie Flooties.” Other musically inclined royals include:

King Henry VIII – lute, organ, recorder, flute, harp and his own singing voice.

Queen Elizabeth I – lute and harpsichord, which were also mastered by Queen Mary (also known as Bloody Mary) and Mary, Queen of Scots.

Queen Victoria – piano, an instrument also played by her husband, Prince Albert.

Prince Charles – cello, which he played in the Trinity College Orchestra.

Guess whose penmanship has no "Blurred Lines"?

Meghan Markle is a foodie and was an avid food blogger. But what might come as a surprise is Meghan’s talent for calligraphy, at which she became so proficient in the early 2000s that she was hired by Robin Thicke (performer of the song “Blurred Lines”), to address his wedding invitations.

Guess who's a talented children's book author?

Sarah, Duchess of York, the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, is an accomplished and prolific children’s book author. Her works include Ballerina RosieTea for Ruby, and the Little Red series. She also wrote a memoir, Finding Sarah.

Guess who's a long-distance runner?

Princess Beatrice of York is the first member of the royal family to complete the London Marathon, which she did in 2010. The then-21-year-old princess ran the 42.2-kms race through London’s streets as part of a 34-person “human caterpillar” tied together with bungee cords. And she did it for charity.

Guess who does impressive impressions?

She has been played by many on screen, but if Queen Elizabeth were to meet you, she’d probably be able to do an astonishingly accurate impression of you and your accent. That’s right, Queen Elizabeth is an accomplished mimic. For that matter, so is her eldest son Prince Charles.

Guess who grows his own black truffles?

Only one person’s ever succeeded in cultivating black truffles on English soil, and that’s Prince Philip. A passionate and patient gardener, after toiling at truffle-coaxing since 2006, the Prince Consort has finally succeeded in producing the French Perigord black truffle, a rare and now highly-sought-after delicacy. That said, there are many gardening aficionados in the royal family, including Philip’s eldest son, Prince Charles.

Guess who's an Olympic athlete?

Princess Anne competed in the three-day equestrian event during the 1976 Montreal Olympics, making her the first royal to compete in the Olympics. Her daughter, Zara Phillips, competed in the same equestrian three-day event at the 2012 Olympics in London, in which Great Britain won the silver medal. Of course, many in the royal family are accomplished equestrians, including the Queen, Prince Philip and Princes William and Harry, both of whom are accomplished polo payers.

Guess who's a secret videographer?

Among her many talents, the Queen is an accomplished videographer, having received her first Box Brownie as a gift from her father, King George VI, before the start of World War II. Keeping pace with advancing technology, Queen Elizabeth II has become known for her “effortless knack of capturing her family at their most informal and most relaxed,” according to the Daily Mail.

Guess the royal with the diving skills?

In the more than two decades since the tragic, untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales, lots of little-known facts about the People’s Princess have turned up. But what remains little-known about Diana is that she was an accomplished diver. Her “Spencer Special” was a dive into a pool that barely left a ripple, according to biographer Andrew Morton in Diana: Her True Story.

Guess who has a pilot's licence?

This one shouldn’t be that tough considering there are at least five that come to mind, right off the top of our heads. These include Prince Harry, Prince William, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Prince Philip.

Can you name the many talented royal painters?

We’re not talking about artists who painted members of the royal family, but members of the royal family who were actually quite good with a paintbrush. These include:

  • King George III
  • Queen Victoria
  • Prince Albert
  • King Edward VII
  • Queen Alexandra (the Queen Consort of King Edward VII)
  • Queen Elizabeth II
  • Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh 
Can you name the renowned royal sculptor?

The fourth daughter and sixth child of Queen Victoria, Princess Louise is widely considered Victoria’s most “unconventional” child. From an early age, Louise showed considerable talent in drawing and painting, but what she really wanted to do was sculpt. And she was incredibly talented at that as well, with her 1893 sculpture of her mother Queen Victoria on display in front of Kensington Palace.

Guess which royals were polyglots?

Both Prince George and Prince Charlotte are showing a knack for speaking French, but if they want to compete with the most accomplished royal polyglots (masters of many languages), they’ll need to study these as well:

German – Queen Victoria’s first language (although she spoke English at Court and mastered many other languages).

French – traditional “royal court” language in Europe, spoken now by the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Hindustani – After Queen Victoria became Empress of India in 1877, she grew fond of Indian culture and languages, which she learned through her many Indian servants.

Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, Swahili, and Vietnamese (which Charles and William have studied).

Written by Lauren Cahn. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.