Queen Elizabeth Once Found Paradise On A Potato Farm

While followers around the world know Queen Elizabeth for her 70 years of service to the British government, they might also know her for her famous love of teatime treats like drop scones and chocolate biscuit cake. But, perhaps not as many know that the Queen was a big fan of the gin and Dubonnet cocktail. Her Majesty was full of surprises — she even sort of owned a McDonald's. Now, another unlikely story about the Queen's long and eventful life comes from Brian Bailey, via The Globe and Mail, who earlier this week signed the Queen's condolence book in Manitoba. Bailey, aged 77, is now a retired teacher, but he was only 25-years-old in July 1970, when the Queen spent two days "relaxing with [Bailey's] family on their potato farm."

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip brought their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne to Bailey's farm during the "Centennial Celebration tour." (The Manitoba Act, passed in 1870, officially made the province part of British North America, per Britannica.) The farm cropped up (pun intended) on the Royal radar three years prior in 1967, when Bailey's father, T. Roy, was named "Mr. Manitoba Farmer," per Global News Canada. When the Centennial Celebration rolled around, the British government thought this potato farm might make an excellent place for Her Majesty to relax — "And of course," said Bailey, "when you're invited to host the Queen, you don't say no."

A potato farm fit for a queen

You might be wondering, what did the Royal Family do for two days on a potato farm? The answer: They simply hung out. "It was kind of break from the tour. They didn't want to have anybody around," Bailey recalled, via The Globe and Mail. "It was so relaxed it was almost unbelievable." The Queen lounged in a lawn chair, the young Prince and Princess rode horses around the grounds ("a little faster than [the horses] were used to"), and Prince Phillip asked a lot of questions about the crops. Bailey's mother, Nora, served the Queen homemade coffee cake. During the visit, the Queen herself took such a huge amount of photos that Prince Phillip reportedly joked that "O Canada" should be renamed "O Camera," per Global News Canada.

Sounds pretty casual? It was — kind of. The Queen's private secretary, Martin Charles, had personally visited Bailey's farm a month prior to make sure the Queen would like it when she got there. (Charles even pre-approved Nora Bailey's coffee cake.) Plus, as Bailey recounts, 26 undercover royal security guards were positioned around the farm in plainclothes at all times. Still, these cautionary measures didn't seem to affect Bailey's impression of the Queen or her visit. "You wonder how you're going to react to them, and they're just very ordinary-type people," said Bailey. "No limousines, no crowns, just ordinary people."