Congratulations to Queen Elizabeth II on reaching the awesome statistic that she is now the longest reigning monarch EVER. By 17.30hrs she will have reigned for 63 years, seven months: 23,266 days.
So what makes Queen Elizabeth such an extraordinary person and what can we learn from her? Elizabeth didn’t expect to be queen; it was only after her uncle (Edward VII) abdicated, that her father became King and she was raised to second in line to the throne. At 21 she made the memorable speech where she vowed to serve her country. Little did she expect to become queen, with all of the responsibility – and being the mother of two young children, at the age of 25. The private footage of her returning from Kenya, as Queen whilst mourning her dear father was heartbreaking. But she did it, without complaint, because she believed in the vows she had made. Remarkable.
Given she has led the country; at least being the figure head for the country, through turbulent times for the United Kingdom, and remained respected throughout the world, is extraordinary. And she continues to represent the country with her consort, Prince Philip although other members of the Royal Family have taken over some public duties.
I have considered five ways she is able to create the right public persona to be a figure head: leader for our country.
1. Magic Moments. The Queen (and other members of the royal family) realise that every time they make an appearance, it will be a memorable moment for people there. Even if it is a routine visit to a hospital, sports centre, drinks reception etc, it is something guests will talk about for many years after the event. The Queen makes sure she puts 100% effort into the event, even if she is tired, bored etc.
2. The Queen isn’t afraid to do Public Speaking and knows the power of it. It must have been nerve-wracking doing her famous 21st Birthday speech, which was recorded, yet she knew this was a powerful way of engaging her subjects. No one wishes to support a ‘mute’ figure head. It is interesting to hear the Queen speak; her accent has altered from the very clipped, almost Germanic style of upper class accent she spoke when she was 21, to a very much clearer, flowing style of speaking now.
3. She is discreet and appears ‘neutral’ in constitutional situations. How many times has she had to host banquets with foreign leaders who are despots, yet she appears gracious. People in the know say she isn’t rude about anyone she meets and is discreet, not repeating private conversations. David Cameron should take note.
4. Following on from her constitutional role, she is a great listener; and apparently will only give advice when asked. Given the number of weekly meetings she has had with her Prime Ministers, she has a wealth of experience and wisdom to share – should the prime minister wish to take her advice.
5. She manages time at an event. She and her advisors know that everyone wants to see her, but there wouldn’t be enough time to have in depth conversations with everyone. You will see her discretely move from one person to the next (on occasions even being guided to the next guest by a courtier) to ensure she speaks to everyone. How often have you been at an event when you realise you’ve spoken to six people, and you wanted to speak to everyone!
And finally: we must not remember the role of Prince Philip throughout her reign. Of course he has provided many laughs with his gaffs, but it is obvious that he has provided support for the Queen in what is a ‘lonely’ position.
So on this important day, I send my congratulations to Queen Elizabeth, and long may you reign.