Close Friend Reveals What Career Queen Elizabeth Would Have Chosen if She Had the Choice

It is, admittedly, not what we were expecting.

Queen Elizabeth
(Image credit: Getty)

From age 10 on, the then Princess Elizabeth really didn’t have a say in what career she’d undertake as she grew into adulthood. Though she wasn’t born in the direct line of succession, when her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson—thereby making her father King—it became clear that serving the Crown would be her life’s work. In 1952, at just 25 years old, she became queen after her father died unexpectedly; she would reign for 70 more years before her death last September 8 at 96 years old.

Queen Elizabeth in blue at a royal wedding

(Image credit: Getty Images)

But if she had a choice, Her late Majesty’s friend and royal author Gyles Brandreth said she would have chosen an entirely different career path for herself. If she had never been monarch, Brandreth said the late Queen would have been a comic impressionist—admittedly, not the career path we were expecting.

Per The Daily Express, Brandreth explained how Princess Elizabeth had been inspired by an entertainer who visited Windsor Castle during World War II. She had also taken a particular interest in George Formby, an actor, singer-songwriter, and comedian whose song “When I’m Cleaning Windows” Elizabeth would often sing, mimicking him. 

Queen Elizabeth

(Image credit: Getty)

“There was a woman who came called Florence Desmond,” Brandreth told Times Radio. “She did impressions—Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, and Vera Lynn. The Queen told me that if she hadn’t been Queen, she might quite have liked to have been an impressionist. I said, ‘Really? What can you do?’ And she said, ‘I can do George Formby.’ And there and then, the Queen picked up an imaginary ukelele and she sang to me ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows.’”

Brandreth said that Her late Majesty could also mimic animals and regional accents. “She’d do Frankie Dettori jumping off a horse, Concorde over Windsor Castle,” he said. “All in one conversation. It was a heck of a conversation.”

Queen Elizabeth

(Image credit: Getty)

One has to wonder if the late Queen bonded with former actress Meghan Markle over this; Brandreth said of Her late Majesty that she told Markle she could “carry on being an actress” at their first meeting, and that she was “concerned” for her happiness.

Queen Elizabeth Meghan Markle

(Image credit: Samir Hussein / WireImage for Getty Images)

By the way, even if her uncle hadn’t abdicated, she would have likely still become Queen, as Edward never had any children, meaning the line of succession would have eventually passed to Elizabeth, someone truly meant to reign.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.