Long lived the Queen: How Her Majesty reached the mighty age of 96

How the Queen lived to become the oldest reigning British monarch in history. (Getty Images)
How the Queen lived to become the oldest reigning British monarch in history. (Getty Images) (Getty Images)

As Britons mark the first anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, many are reflecting on her remarkably long and healthy life before she died on 8 September 2022.

Like her mother, who lived to the age of 101, Her Majesty also had a long and full life. Born on 26 April, 1926 she was 96 years old when she died, more than a decade older than the 83.28-year life expectancy for the average British woman.

She was already the oldest reigning British monarch in history, celebrating her Platinum Jubilee in 2022, marking 70 years of service.

Watch: Queen's anniversary: How we mourned her a year ago - 'There's sadness and joy'

In April 2015, she surpassed the previous record of 63 years and 216 days set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. By the time she died, she was the second-longest reigning monarch in history.

Although longevity genes may have been a big factor in Elizabeth's long life, experts also insist that her healthy diet, lifestyle and outlook played a part…

More on the anniversary of the Queen's death

Eat to live, not live to eat

The Queen maintained a healthy weight throughout her life and according to former chef Darren McGrady, she was "very disciplined [about her diet], which is what helps keep her so well and so healthy".

Some of her favourite foods were grilled or poached fish, along with vegetables and salad. In 2019 – by that stage well into her nineties – she admitted to one guest at a luncheon party in Buckingham Palace that she had cut back on potatoes.

Queen Elizabeth II, pictured here at a dinner the Elysee Palace in Paris on June 9, 1992 favoured poached fish vegetables and salad. (Getty Images)
The Queen, pictured here at a dinner the Elysee Palace in Paris on 9 June, 1992 favoured poached fish vegetables and salad. (Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

McGrady said she was "simply the kind of person who eats to live, rather than living to eat. The chefs and food and kitchens came last. They were still using pots and pans from the 1800s, with the Queen Victoria stamp on them."

But the Queen also knew the importance of enjoying food too. Her favourite foods included scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and a grating of truffle. She was also partial to chocolate.

Fit for a queen

Although she is not thought to have been to a gym in her life, the Queen was a "great believer in sensible exercise", according to her biographer Ingrid Seward. Along with horse-riding and the occasional country sport in her younger days, walking was one of her favourite exercises and she developed something of a fast pace.

The Queen Elizabeth II, pictured here in 1961, was a keen horse rider. (Getty Images)
The Queen, pictured here in 1961, was a keen horse rider. (Getty Images) (CENTRAL PRESS/AFP via Getty Imag)

During a state visit to the White House in the early 1990s, her bracing walk "left even the Secret Service panting", according to then-president George Bush. The Queen would make walking a regular part of her day, taking a stroll around the gardens of Buckingham Palace at 2.30pm with her corgis.

When at Balmoral or Sandringham, she would ramble a little longer through moorlands and woods with "intentionally measured and deliberate pace", according to her longtime dress designer Norman Hartnell.

She kept her brain young

Despite never taking an academic exam in her life, the Queen's mental agility even at the end was remarkable and the fact she was still a functioning head of state said it all. She spoke fluent French, was able to converse easily with heads of state and had, what the BBC described as 'an aptitude for learning'.

In an interview in 2019, Professor Kate William, author of Young Elizabeth said: "The Queen's father had disliked school and her mother thought it was more important to have fun."

"Unlike her father, the Queen was very bright and had an appetite for learning as well as a razor-sharp memory," Professor William continued. "The lack of formal education didn’t harm her as she was naturally analytical and something of an autodidact, as well as being hard-working – which we known now is just as important as raw brainpower."

The Queen also seemed to always enjoy learning. She once visited the Google headquarters in London and expressed an interest in the Internet and was said to text and email her grandchildren too.

She enjoyed a tipple

(Getty Images)
The Queen's drink of choice was a dry martini. (Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Although never a 'big drinker', according to palace sources, Her Majesty's favourite drink was a dry martini, which is also the drink of choice for her son King Charles. She would have one most nights. She also enjoyed a Dubonnet mixed with gin, lemon and ice. But in late 2021, doctors told her to give up her daily habit in preparation for her Platinum Jubilee.

Her love of animals

There is nothing like having a pet to keep blood pressure down and the Queen had a lifelong love of horses and dogs, especially the Pembroke Welsh corgi. It stemmed from when she was only six years old and her father first presented both his daughters with a corgi called Dookie.

It became the first of dozens of corgis and dorgis – a crossbreed of corgis and dachshunds – that she was to own throughout her long life. In March 2021, reports revealed that she was given two more corgi puppies as a present. A source said: "The puppies were brought in to cheer her up during a very difficult period."

Queen Elizabeth II and her late husband, The Duke of Edinburgh, pictured here at Balmoral in 1979 were very fond of their dogs. (Getty Images)
The Queen and her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, pictured here at Balmoral in 1979 were very fond of their dogs. (Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

Watch: Remembering the late HM Queen Elizabeth II