This week, Queen Elizabeth II will become Britain’s longest reigning monarch. As such, she’s bound to have a fair few skeletons in the royal closet, but perhaps the strangest of all is Her Majesty’s youthful obsession with the Loch Ness Monster.
Throughout history, monarchs have often been compared to monsters, courtesy of their bloodthirsty and power hungry wanton ways, and although Queen Elizabeth is regarded as less of a battle axe and more of a kind if slightly intimidating aunt on the world stage, the young Queen had something of an unhealthy obsession with the Loch Ness Monster.
According to The Independent the Queen’s all consuming obsession with “another sizeable beast of her dominion” was recently revealed in research papers detailing the heyday of the hunt for Nessie over half a decade ago
The papers document that the Queen was “very interested” in the Loch Ness Monster and asked to be kept briefed on Nessie’s every move as it prowled the Loch some 70 miles from her Scottish Balmoral retreat.
The Duke of Edinburgh was also said to have shared the Sovereign’s “Nessie fever,” and the royal couple were encouraged in their obsession by war hero turned famous naturalist, Sir Peter Scott, who went on to co-found the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
After delving into Scott’s papers held at Cambridge University, researchers unearthed documents revealing that Sir Peter, son of the famed Antarctic explorer Captain Scott, suggested that Nessie should be named after the Queen.
In May 1960, Sir Peter penned a letter to the Queen’s assistant private secretary Martin Charteris stating his proposals to track down the mythical monster and once having done so he proposed to name it not “Liz,” “Lizzy,” or even “Little Queenie,” but “Elizabethia nessiae.”
The idea didn’t exactly receive a warm reception by the palace, which baulked at the idea of naming a monstrous reptile of the deep after the Queen of England.
In his reply, Charteris stressed the royal stamp of approval for the hunt for Nessie, “It would be a great day in the zoological world if it can be proved that a hitherto unknown animal exists.”
But, and it’s a big but, Charteris gave no credence to naming the beast after his beloved sovereign.
“If there is any question of naming the animal after the Queen, there must of course be absolutely irrefutable evidence of its existence. It would be most regrettable to connect Her Majesty in any way with something which ultimately turned out to be a hoax.
“Even if the animal does prove to exist I am not at all sure that it will be generally very appropriate to name it after Her Majesty since it has for so many years been known as ‘The Monster.'”
Sir Peter, whose godfather was Peter Pan author JM Barrie, persevered with his search for Nessie in the face of much criticism from the scientific community, with one leading zoologist describing it as a beast belonging to “the category of ghosts and fairies.”
In 1962, after failing to gain finance or public backing for an official body to hunt Nessie, Sir Peter set up a private group – the Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau (LNPIB), in a bid to chase the watery wonder.
Sir Peter made his belief in the existence of the Loch ness Monster public in 1975 when photographs taken by an American patent lawyer, Robert Rines, appeared to show a strange and curious beast caught on underwater cameras.
Sir Peter explained, “There is further doubt in my mind that large animals exist in Loch Ness.” The famous naturalist stood by this statement until his death in 1989.
Post-graduate history researcher Zac Baynham-Herd stressed that despite those who believe the Loch Ness Monster to be a hoax, Sir Peter was no fool.
“Scott never claimed to have seen the monster. He was no fool – he analysed all the information in a scientifically rigorous manner. But ultimately he convinced himself that there was indeed something in Loch Ness.
“There is no-one who did more to address the question of the Loch Monster. He was inspired by the idea of the wilderness, of an untouched nature that had to be protected and preserved.”
It can not be ascertained if the Queen’s own personal obsession with the Loch Ness Monster is still fuelled by the same intensity that compelled her in the 1960s.
When The Independent asked Buckingham Palace if the monarch continues to take an interest in the mystery, a spokesman said, “Her Majesty has seen many things in her life but there are currently no plans for an audience with the Loch Ness Monster.”
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