At 91 years old, Queen Elizabeth II, ruler of the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, has seen some shit: A World War. The Beatles. England winning the World Cup. The death of Princess Diana. Harry Potter. Susan Boyle. Pippa Middleton. One Direction. The birth of Prince George. Brexit. That’s a full life for anyone, let alone one of the most famous and powerful women on the planet, and she shows no signs of slowing down.
How has the Queen managed to kick old age in the ass for so long, you ask? By drinking booze. Lots and lots of booze.
Travel + Leisure recently rounded up some fun facts about Her Majesty’s daily eating habits and reported that she consumes four alcoholic beverages every day: a gin and Dubonnet (a wine-based apéritif) with a slice of lemon and “a lot of ice” prior to lunch; a glass of wine and a dry gin martini with lunch; and a glass of champagne before bed every night. Couple her cocktail selection with all the fancy finger foods she houses, and the Queen is basically an older, sweeter, more British version of Old School’s Frank the Tank. We couldn’t reach QE2 for comment, but all that hooch is presumably so good when it hits her lips.
We did do some quick math, however, and determined that two glasses of gin, one glass of wine and one glass of bubbly amount to about six units of alcohol a day. That’s according to an online calculator from The Drinkaware Trust, an independent U.K.-wide alcohol education charity that works with the alcohol industry and public sector bodies to promote safe consumption. Assuming the Queen drinks every day (and why wouldn’t she?), that adds up to 35 units of alcohol per week—21 more than the U.K. Chief Medical Officers deem safe for men and women before they start facing health risks.
In other words, the Queen is a certified binge drinker, and she doesn’t give a fuck.
Though we used U.K. standards to classify the Queen’s boozing habits, she also overdoes it here in the U.S. One “standard” American drink, per the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, is one 12-ounce beer, one 5-ounce serving of wine or one 1.5-ounce shot of distilled spirits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends sticking to 14 standard drinks a week.
Of course, binge drinking—defined by the CDC as downing five or more drinks in a short amount of time—isn’t a great look: Loads of research has linked excess alcohol consumption to a host of health conditions, including liver disease, stroke and certain cancers. Just recently, a study in the European Heart Journal found that the more alcohol you consume, the more likely you are to develop abnormal heart rhythms.
So we should stress that although the four-drinks-a-day method seems to have worked swimmingly for the Queen, it’s probably a bad idea for most of us. That being said, she is onto something, because alcohol can indeed have a positive impact on your longevity. Research in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs gives a mortality advantage to moderate wine drinkers over abstainers, while a study in Cell Cycle suggests that moderate consumption can lower your risk of early death due to how booze affects your body’s mTOR pathway, which tells your cells to stop aging so damn fast.
It’s also important to note that Queen Elizabeth II is part of a generation that drinks far less than any other age group. According to stats from the Institute of Alcohol Studies, drinkers over 65 years old consume between 3.4 and 5.6 fewer units of alcohol per week than the total weekly average for younger adults—but they also drink more frequently than the rest of us. Between 2005 and 2011, the proportion of seniors who drank alcohol at least 5 days a week exceeded all other generations.
That sounds less like the Queen, who probably has some kind of freakishly strong Royal liver and thus is immune to conventional scientific laws, and more like my great grammy, who swore by drinking one glass of Dewar’s blended Scotch whisky every afternoon her whole life and lived to be 102. So if you’re going to follow an old lady’s lead, better make it hers.