The quirkiest hobbies and habits of 9 world leaders, from repairing Rolexes to ripping up official documents

Gerhard Joren/LightRocket via Getty ImagesThe Dalai Lama in action with his only hobby, repairing watches, at his residence in McLeod Ganj. He still has a Rolex watch given to him by late U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.
  • Some of the biggest figures on the world’s stage have lesser-known habits and hobbies.
  • From the Dalai Lama’s lifelong interest in tinkering with watches to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s extensive morning routine – these are some of the lesser-known details of world leaders’ private lives.
  • Visit for more stories.

Though the top figures in international politics and religion are among the most closely watched people in the world, their private lives still contain some tightly-held details.

From a passion for fashion, tango, or drinking champagne before bed, here are some of the quirky habits and hobbies that make the biggest names on the world’s stage human.

US President Donald Trump: Ripping up papers

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

White House officials enlisted records management employees to tape back together papers “like a jigsaw puzzle,” that President Donald Trump’s constantly rips up so the administration won’t break the law, former employee Solomon Lartey told Politico.

The Presidential Records Act says every document during a presidency is publicly owned and must be filed and saved as historical record at the National Archives, but Lartey told Politico that he and his staff saw newspaper clips, memos, letters from colleagues like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and more torn once or sometimes completely shredded.

“I had a letter from Schumer – he tore it up,” he told Politico. “It was the craziest thing ever. He ripped papers into tiny pieces.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin: An intense morning routine

MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty ImagesRussias President Vladimir Putin works out at a gym at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi on August 30, 2015.

The Russian leader reportedly has a vigorous morning routine that begins after he wakes up around noon.

After a breakfast that usually includes coffee, juice, an omelet, porridge, or quail eggs, Putin swims alone for two hours before heading to the gym to lift weights while watching Russian news.

To finish getting ready for the day, Putin relies on both freezing and very hot baths before getting dressed in any one of his bespoke suits.

Queen Elizabeth II: Drinking champagne

Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth II, pictured on a visit to Hull last month.

The 93-year-old monarch reportedly drinks a glass of bubbly every night before bed. She also reportedly has been known to like a gin and Dubonnet at lunch before enjoying wine and a dry martini during the day.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel: Food hoarding

Sebastian Widmann/Getty ImagesGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a beer mug after her speech at the Trudering fest on May 28, 2017 in Munich, Germany.

Merkel said in an interview with German magazine SUPERillu that the first few decades of her life spent in East Germany solidified her habit of buying and hoarding massive amounts of food and supplies.

“I still buy something as soon as I see it, even when I don’t really need it,” Merkel told the magazine. “It’s a deep-seated habit stemming from the fact that in an economy where things were scarce you just used to get what you could when you could.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi: Staying fashionable

VCG/VCG via Getty ImagesIndia Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Emper Qins Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses Museum on May 14, 2015 in Xi’an, Shaanxi province of China.

The prime minister’s looks aren’t only displayed on his Twitter account, but have also caught the eye of the international media and other world leaders, who have taken to the leader’s signature garment, with some calling it the “Modi jacket.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Eating ice cream

PHILIPPE WOJAZER/AFP/Getty ImagesIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures at a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on June 5, 2018.

After a 2013 news report said Netanyahu used $US2,700 of state money each year to buy ice cream from a gourmet shop near his official residence, the leader’s office withdrew a request to renew his allowance of 10,000 shekels, though it hasn’t been confirmed that the decision squashed his preference for the pistachio-flavored treat.

French President Emmanuel Macron: Spending on makeup

Michele Tantussi/Getty ImagesFrench President Emmanuel Macron speaks a Press conference after a meeting of European Union leaders at the Chancellery on June 29, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

The French leader ran into controversy when it was reported he spent €26,000 in three months on makeup.

Macron isn’t the first French leader with astronomical grooming costs, as his predecessor, François Hollande, was embroiled in a scandal known as “coiffeurgate” when it was reported his personal hairdresser cost €10,000 in public funds each month.

Before Hollande, makeup reportedly set Nicolas Sarkozy back €8,000 each month.

Pope Francis: Dancing the tango

Franco Origlia/Getty ImagesPope Francis waves to the faithful as he leaves St. Peter’s Square at the end of Palm Sunday Mass on March 29, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican.

Among his passions that are signature to his native Buenos Aires, Pope Francis has said he enjoyed dancing the tango in his youth along to South American music he loved.

“I like it a lot,” Jorge Mario Bergoglio said in a book published before he was elevated to the papacy. “It’s something that comes from within me.”

In honour of the Pope’s 78th birthday, thousands of people danced the tango near the Vatican in St. Peter’s Square.

Dalai Lama: Repairing watches

Gerhard Joren/LightRocket via Getty ImagesThe Dalai Lama in action repairing watches at his residence in McLeod Ganj.

In addition to meditating and gardening, repairing watches is perhaps the most unexpected of the Dalai Lama’s hobbies.

His interest in watches reportedly came from a Rolex given to him by former President Franklin Roosevelt, but the Dalai Lama has been interested in fixing technical goods since childhood, when he repaired things like cars and an old film projector.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.