Queen's health secrets to long life revealed as monarch turns 96

Her Majesty is celebrating her 96th birthday today

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The Queen has lived a remarkably long and action-filled life.

Celebrating her 96th birthday today, the Queen is in very good health for her age.

As a mum-of-four, grandma-of-eight and great-grandma-of-12, she has taken on the burden of public life for more than seven decades.

Throughout this period, she has displayed great strength and resilience throughout the ups and downs of her reign.

Rarely falling ill, the longest-reigning monarch in British history is not known to have any major medical conditions, and has only ever missed official engagements on health grounds at the insistence of her doctors.

As she turns 96, eight reasons that could explain her long, healthy life are listed below.

1. Regular holidays

As well as crisscrossing the globe on royal tours throughout her reign, every summer the Queen retreats to Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire for a few weeks of rest and relaxation.

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

She was almost always joined by late husband Prince Philip until his death in April 2021, with other members of the Royal Family often visiting.

In the 2016 ITV documentary, Our Queen at 90, Princess Eugenie explained: “It’s a lovely base for Granny and Grandpa to be – for us to come and see them up there where you just have room to breathe and run.”

2. Lots of fresh air

The monarch spends private weekends and usually a month every Easter at Windsor Castle in Berkshire, where the adjoining Home Park provides ample space to roam in leafy woodland.

Summers at the 50,000-acre Balmoral Estate also feature lots of time in the great outdoors.

Princess Eugenie added: “I think Granny is the most happy there, I think she really, really loves the Highlands… walks, picnics, dogs, a lot of dogs, there’s always dogs and people coming in and out.”

3. Caring for her dogs

The Queen has owned more than 30 dogs in her lifetime, most famously corgis, as well as cocker spaniels and dorgis (a dachshund/corgi cross).

The royal pooches are said to be a huge source of joy and support for Her Majesty, who walked them herself up until last year, when she reportedly became too frail to do so.

4. Horse riding

The Queen’s other pet passion is horses.

Gifted a Shetland pony at the age of four, she began riding in childhood and is closely involved in the care of the horses she owns for breeding, racing and riding.

Regularly pictured on horseback in the grounds of Windsor Castle, Her Majesty rode until the age of 95, and was said to be disappointed when she she was forced to hang up her riding boots for good.

5. Top medical care

The Queen is able to benefit from world-class medical care.

The royal household’s team of doctors is headed up by Professor Sir Huw Thomas, who was appointed head of the Medical Household and physician to the Queen in 2014.

6. A strong marriage

The Queen and Prince Philip were married for 73 years and research has showed how powerful a supportive spouse can be.

A University College London 2017 study found that marriage was linked to a reduced risk of dementia.

Queen Elizabeth II with Prince Philip
Queen Elizabeth II with Prince Philip

A 2018 study by Keele University found married people had a decreased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke mortality.

Several studies have suggested being married could help you live longer.

7. A simple diet

The Queen's diet is relatively simple.

Former royal chef at Buckingham Palace, Darren McGrady, says she eats four small meals a day (breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner), favours unpretentious main meals such as grilled fish and vegetables or chicken salad, and dislikes strong flavours such as garlic or spices.

8. Enjoying treats in moderation

The Queen is said to be partial to a gin and Dubonnet, or a glass of champagne, but she enjoys these drinks in moderation.

Chef McGrady added that Friday was fish and chips day when he worked at the Palace, and that Her Majesty has a real sweet tooth, with chocolate being her favourite confection.

Dark chocolate in particular is said to have a variety of health benefits.

As a source of antioxidants, A Harvard University study found eating it lowered blood pressure in all participants.