- Elizabeth II, longest-reigning monarch in British history, once served her country—and the war effort—as a humble truck mechanic.
- After debating her royal parents for over a year, the future queen signed up for the Auxiliary Territorial Service in February 1945.
- She stayed in until after VJ Day, and kept driving herself throughout her life, even teaching her children and grandchildren to drive.
There’s no question that Elizabeth II, who passed away earlier today, had served her country well during a reign of almost 70 years. The 96-year-old monarch remained a steady, stable force in British life throughout her lifetime of public service.
While other publications will do a much better job chronicling that service, did you know that HRH was also a truck mechanic during the war?
with the Battle of Britain and a constant campaign of German bombing going on all around her, and with fellow Britons all pitching in to help the war effort, the young, then-Princess Elizabeth yearned to do her part. But her parents, King George VI and Elizabeth the Queen Mother, were highly protective of their two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, and pointed out that no female member of the royal family had ever joined the military.
It took a year of debate before the family relented and gave their 19-year-old elder daughter permission to join up. In February of 1945 the future monarch joined the women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service and was registered as inductee No. 230873 under the name Elizabeth Windsor, according to biography.com. Members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service served as everything from anti-aircraft gunners to drivers to mechanics.
She chose mechanic. In a six-week training course, she passed a military driving test, learned to read maps and worked repairing engines, according to a Time magazine article. The Associated Press at the time named her “Princess Auto Mechanic.” Exactly which vehicles she worked on and what she did on them may have been lost to history, but the Queen served her country well, and remained an active driver throughout almost all of her life, teaching her children and grandchildren how to drive.
So, God Save Her Majesty, the former Princess Auto Mechanic.
Our condolences to the royal family and to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth on the passing Queen Elizabeth II.