10 powers you didn’t know the Queen has – including not needing driving licence

Queen Elizabeth II is one of the most famous people in the world.

She has been the UK's Head of State since 1952, and next year an extra bank holiday will mark her Platinum Jubilee.

And tomorrow, on April 21, she turns 95, marking the the first birthday she will spend without Prince Philip in seven decades.

Despite being Head of State, she doesn’t have a political or executive role, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t play an important part in the life of the nation.

In fact, The Monarch still has many incredible and bizarre powers you probably didn’t know about.

10 incredible powers the Queen has

1. She owns all the swans the River Thames

You might have heard that the Queen owns all swans in Britain, and technically that is true.

All unmarked swans in open water in the UK technically belong to the Queen, however the Crown only “exercises her ownership” on certain parts of the Thames and “its surrounding tributaries”.

Swan Upping is still a ceremonial tradition which takes place once a year.

The swans in the River Thames are caught, ringed and set free again as part of the census of the swan population.

2. The Queen can drive without a licence

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Among her many privileges, the Queen is the only person in the UK who doesn’t legally need a licence to drive, or have a number plate.

According to British law, she doesn’t need a driving licence because they are issued in her name.

As part of discretionary powers or rights that only the sovereign enjoys, she is excluded form the regulations and laws governing the road.

Her Majesty learned how to drive as a teenager during World War 2, when she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service as an honorary second subaltern.

3. She doesn’t need a passport to travel

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This is the same reason the British Monarch doesn’t need a passport to travel abroad.

Queen Elizabeth is the one that issues them.

The first page of all British passports read: “Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary."

4. The Queen celebrates two birthdays

The Queen is so important she celebrates her birthday twice a year.

Once on her actual one of April 21, and another in June for the Trooping of the Colour parade.

The double birthday tradition was started by King George II in 1748 because he was born in November.

He wasn’t pleased with UK, weather, and wanted there to be a big public celebration of his birthday.

5. Queen Elizabeth II has her own private cash machine

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Not exactly a power, but another perk of the job is a private cash machine for use by the Royal Family.

The cash machine, which is installed in the basement of Buckingham Palace, is provided by Coutts bank.

6. She doesn’t have to pay tax

The Queen isn’t required to pay tax – but she still does.

In 1992 the Queen volunteered to pay income tax and capital gains tax, and since 1993 her personal income has been taxable as any other taxpayer.

However, she is not obliged to pay tax due to the Crown’s tax-exempt status.

7. The Queen can’t be arrested

The Queen is completely immune from prosecution because she is covered by what is known as sovereign immunity.

It means the sovereign can’t commit a legal wrong, and is immune from civil or criminal proceedings.

The Royal Family are also spared from all Freedom of Information requests.

That means they aren’t obliged to let anyone have access to their information.

8. All dolphins in British waters belong to the Queen

You may have heard about the swans, but did you know that the Sovereign also has dominion over all dolphins in British waters?

The rule, which says the Queen technically owns all sturgeons, whales and dolphins in the waters around the UK, date back to 1324.

When they are captured within three miles of UK shores they may be claimed on behalf of the crown.

9. No bill can be passed to form a new law without her consent

She may not have political power, but her consent is necessary to turn any bill into law.

Once a proposed law has passed both Houses of Parliament, it makes its way to Buckingham Palace for approval.

This is called the Royal Assent.

10. The Queen can appoint Lords and Knights

The Queen still has the power to appoint Lords, who can sit in Parliament.

But like many powers, this is only exercised “on the advice of” elected government ministers.

The Queen, who is Sovereign of the Garter, can make someone a Knight to honour someone who has held public office and contributed to the national life, or the sovereign personally.

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