The 89-year-old Queen, who just made history as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, shared that tidbit during her annual visit to the Sandringham’s Women’s Institute, known in the U.K. as “WI.” The historic group is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and the Queen has been attending meetings at her local chapter for 72 years and counting!
“The Queen has been coming since 1943, and I think she’s only missed four or five in all that time,” Yvonne Browne, vice president and chair of the group, tells PEOPLE. “For that one afternoon, she’s just an ordinary WI member.”
The Queen typically attends the January meeting with her lady-in-waiting, sitting in the local village hall where she enjoys an exhibition, a speaker, a drama performance and of course, afternoon tea. The women-only group, of which the Queen is president, started in Canada back in 1915 as a way to revitalize communities during WWI and will mark its official centenary on September 16.
Chatting to her table at an event last year – three members are chosen, on a rotation every year – the Queen divulged that she has become adept at Skype, using it to chat with her granddaughter Zara Phillips, 34. “She’s very much in the modern world, and as most grandparents know, if they want to keep in touch with their families these days that’s what they have to do!” says Browne, who greets the Queen every year.
As for how the monarch takes her tea, “She has ordinary tea, Yorkshire tea, just with milk,” reveals Browne. “We are led to believe that she likes gingerbread, but she likes fruit cake and shortbread very much as well. We tend to have all those things on the plate, just in case!”
Aside from the homemade cake, the Queen is particularly fond of the entertainment part of the day, where members put on a little show. “She always roars with laughter when one of the locals called Maureen comes on – she’s very good!” says the group organizer, who has herself been a member since 1991.
And on occasion, Her Majesty puts her own stamp on things. “Once she contributed a pair of scissors in the shape of an owl when we had an owl-themed exhibit. The holes of the scissors were the owl’s eyes. She never gets involved in the competitions though.”
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