What You Didn't Know About Queen Elizabeth's Time In World War II

Queen Elizabeth II is known for being many things: longest-reigning English monarch, mother, grandmother, head of state — and mechanic, per Tatler. That last accomplishment may surprise you since no one really thinks of a queen getting her hands dirty. But that is precisely what she did. Before ascending the throne as queen, she was Princess Elizabeth, and she stepped out to help her country in its time of need. 

Harper's Bazaar revealed that the princess joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945, where she learned hands-on training to be a mechanic. It was a pretty impressive feat, especially since she was the first female royal to join the Armed Services and act as a full-time member. Before she took on the task, it was only expected of the male heirs — talk about girl power! Joining the army also taught her how to drive her beloved Land Rovers, which Queen Elizabeth II is often seen galivanting about in even today.

What is the Auxiliary Territorial Service?

Elizabeth had to fight to join the Army and be taken seriously. According to History, she pleaded with her father to allow her to help with the war effort. After a year of arguing with the king and queen, he finally allowed the future queen to join the battle at the young age of 19. The outlet shared that she was given the military number 230873 under the name Elizabeth Windsor.

For many who may not know, the Auxiliary Territorial Service was the women's British Army branch during World War II and was established in 1938, according to the British National Army Museum. The branch eventually merged with the Women's Royal Army Corp in 1949. The Auxiliary Territorial Service was a lifeline during the war, with its members acting as mechanics, radio operators, and gunners. Thanks to her enlistment in the military, it helped boost the British people's morale during the war. Queen Elizabeth II also is the only remaining head of state still living who served in World War II, via the BBC.

Queen Elizabeth leads the field

The Evening Standard revealed that Elizabeth underwent a six-week course in auto mechanic training in Aldershot, based in Surrey. Her Majesty's overall rank by the end of the war was Junior Commander. During the course, she learned how to deconstruct and repair engines, and even though she fit right in, she did not spend the night and was always returned home to Windsor. In a 1947 magazine article, Collier's wrote that the young princess loved nothing more than to "get dirt under her nails" and show off her work as a laborer, via Mashable.

Up until the time she joined the British Armed Forces, she enjoyed a very privileged lifestyle. Since she was never supposed to be queen, she was doted on throughout her early years until her father's death, which thrust her into the spotlight, via Good Housekeeping. But like she has always done, Queen Elizabeth II stood firm and took the responsibilities of being a monarch to heart. Her Majesty the Queen has been a constant and uplifting presence for Great Britain during her time off and on the throne. It does not surprise royal enthusiasts to learn that she brought the same mentality to her time in the military.