The Masterful Queen
As the Queen enters her 70th year on the Throne; unflinching, unwavering and unmovable, Queen Elizabeth II forever reminds us how she mastered the art of being the monarch.
FEBRUARY 6th, 2021
er fate was sealed the moment her Uncle David – King Edward VIII – abdicated the British throne. Although only ten-years-old, the young Princess Elizabeth was thus destined to become Queen Elizabeth II, one of only eight Queen Regnant to rule throughout British history. This weekend, she enters her 70th year on the throne – a landmark achievement unrivalled and unmatched by any previous monarch in UK history. Her success? Continuity. Her mantra? “Never complain, never explain”. Her legacy? Eternal.
Throughout the Queen’s reign she has outlined the definition of royalty. Her approach and sentiments, dedication and commitment to the country and wider Commonwealth has been underlined by the value of which her entire life is underpinned – duty. Whilst some may wrongly deem this style of rule a life devoid of emotion, family values and understanding; it is in fact the opposite.
Duty has enabled the Queen to fully recognise the hopes and dreams of her people. It is doubtful that any other public figure fully identifies the thoughts and feelings of the British public more than her. Throughout her reign, at this country’s darkest moments, she has provided a comforting presence and calming words; each delivered with such revered perfection that politicians and celebrities can only look on and dream they can achieve the same.
Now 69 years into her long reign, with her 70th year fast approaching, and aged 94-years-old, the Queen is the living, breathing example that continuity is the secret to the monarchy’s success. The traditions which look odd to some outside of Britain, or even to those who denounce the presence of a constitutional monarch, are in fact a vital bedrock to the stability of the UK’s greatest institution. The Queen has played to this traditional music beat for most of her reign, adapting and modernising when it is required, not when it is requested. And the results are hard to ignore.
Last year, the Queen was voted the UK’s most admired woman and the third most admired woman in the world by YouGov. It was a remarkable feat, considering she was the oldest person on each list. What these results show however, is that they delve deeper than just admiration. They highlight the effectiveness of her style.
For example, the Queen has never done an interview. Never has she sat down in front of a journalist and discussed her life in any detail. Her opinions have remained private on all matters, political or not, and even when others have inadvertently nodded to her particular thoughts on a subject, she has quickly and abruptly shut it down. Public service has dominated her life, which has earned her both praise and scorn. Sadly, this has enabled some to paint her as unfeeling, unemotional and removed.
A journalist most recently wrongly stated that the Queen “isn’t big into babies”, due to her grandson Prince Harry and Meghan Markle deciding not to bring their son Archie to the UK as they completed their last engagements as senior royals. Deemed an unfair and untrue comment, royal aides claimed the Queen enjoyed spending time with all members of her family, especially her great-grandchildren.
Most recently, that special relationship was underlined through a sweet photograph showing the Queen alongside Prince Philip reading a wedding anniversary card from Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. It is claimed that the Queen is especially close to Charlotte, once telling a Canadian official: “Charlotte is the General, the boys are her soldiers.” Comments and images like these are an intimate glimpse into the Queen’s private life and puncture the unfair claim that she “isn’t into babies”, or that she radiates a cold attitude to her family.
But whether cold or not, her style of reign has reaped the rewards and the successful continuation of The Royal Family, and their global standing is down to no one else but the Queen. Of course, there are figures along the way who help bring elements of popularity to the monarchy, but ultimately, popularity is fleeting, character creates a legacy.
That legacy? Well, the Queen is patron to over six-hundred patronages. She has reigned over fourteen UK Prime Ministers. Over 170 individuals have served as her Commonwealth Prime Ministers. She has seen the inaugurations of fourteen Presidents, and the anointments of five Popes. She was the first public figure to publicly demand for the release of Nelson Mandela. She has done more charity work than any other monarch in history, raising a staggering £1.3 billion throughout her reign.
The Queen personally helped pass the Crown Act of 2013, meaning that the eldest child of the Heir Apparent – whether boy or girl – would ascend to the throne. Through the period of the 1950s to the 1960s, she actively helped many Commonwealth countries regain independence from colonisation or some sort of autonomy. This was particularly crucial in Africa, where virtually all of Britain’s colonies gained independence during her reign. Her leadership at this time, specifically in Canada, was so deeply respected that during the patriation process in the country, which saw the removal of the British Parliament’s sway on Canadians, they overwhelmingly campaigned to keep the Queen as their head of state.
She has survived two attempted assassinations, once when riding her horse at the Trooping the Colour ceremony, the other when in New Zealand. Both times her response was typically understated: “What a terrible shot he must have,” she joked after the latter attempt.
Her formidable presence has intimated some of the world’s most powerful men. Vladimir Putin privately admitted that the Queen was one of the only people he had ever met that made him feel “uneasy”. The 2003 state visit – the first of a Russian leader in 125 years – also resulted in the rare event of the Queen breaking protocol. According to a government aide, Her Majesty once directed Putin to a chessboard at Buckingham Palace and swiftly reminded him that in chess the Queen is the most dangerous and powerful figure on the board. “With that she just smiled and moved onto the next display. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a leader look as sheepish in my life afterwards,” said the aide at the time.
Dedicated, impassioned, dutiful and constant – the Queen’s legacy is one of continuation. She has endured, defeated, resolved and led her nation through countless obstacles. Through pain and joy, grief and gain, the Queen has lived and reigned as a woman in a man’s world yet refused to be dominated by it. She has stood, mostly alone, and seen through all facets of history knowing full well that her position, and perhaps even herself, will never fully be understood.
There is a belief that a Queen on her Throne is a woman who has mastered herself. She’s not perfect, but she is complete. The realisation that everything she needs to fulfil her mission can be found within. Uncovering her powers, she understands how to use them. She’s no longer on the path, she has become it.
It is a belief that can only be applied to a rare few, and in this case, to a woman defined by a fateful decision of abdication. A path which was altered, and one which has been paved for near seventy years with the history of dedicated commitment to an idea and a principle which is bigger than she – duty to a Nation and its people; everlasting, unflinching and unwavering.
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