Happy Birthday Elizabeth! What an astonishing lady she is, and like the majority of people living in Britain, we can only admire and be so grateful for her sense of duty; hard work and health.
So why is she so remarkable and why are we all taking a moment to reflect on what an extraordinary woman she is. We have seen adorable photographs with her youngest grandchildren and great grandchildren and a lovely photo with her daughter, that shows the human side of her. So often, images of her are with male world leaders, yet we forget this side to her life.
There is no doubt that she has always had a sense of duty, from when she was declared heir apparent. She became Queen at a relatively young age, and this must have been challenging for her, with two young children, as well as mourning her dear father. Her life changed literally overnight, yet she never openly complains. And now she’s 90!
How has she managed to be such an icon during a long reign? How has she established such a powerful presence without being aggressive?
- From when she was declared heir apparent, she was present at a number of events. She was watching; she was an ‘apprentice’ observing the proceedings. She was being trained in protocol; the events; expectations, practicing. When she came to power, she was already familiar with many events she would be expected to attend, as well as how to behave.
- She had a number of respected, experienced advisors whom she trusted. Particularly in the first years’ of her reign, she needed support to ensure she had the right information etc.
- The support of her husband and family. She is in a unique position; how many Queens are there in the world? There must be times when she needs to ‘let off steam’; have a giggle or even a slight moan (although I really can’t see her moaning!!)
- Presence: of course when you are wearing a tiara and a stunning gown, you are half way there in creating presence, but if you know everyone is looking at you and you are shy, this is a real challenge. Of course in her apprenticeship she learnt how to deal with this and got used to being the centre of attention, so she knew how to hold herself with good posture.
- Meeting and greeting: the Queen knows that everyone she meets will always remember the occasion. Although it might be a routine event for her, it is a truly special event for everyone there. She knows the importance of listening; good eye contact and open body language. She also knows how to make everyone feel special when they meet her but crucially how to move on, so she gets to meet lots of people rather than being stuck in a corner with one person.
- She has a good balance of her “professional” life and private life. Outsiders might consider that the long winter and summer holidays in Sandringham and Balmoral are excessive. However, for someone who has to be on form whenever she is at an event or occasion, she needs to have downtime, otherwise she would be exhausted and burnt out.
- She is a role model: watching programmes about the Queen where junior members of the Royal Family have been interviewed, it is clear that she is a role model. She demonstrates how to behave in certain situations and celebrations. She leads from the front; she advises and mentors her family – and famously Prime Ministers too!
- Finally she has a great support team: the people organising events, occasions, tours etc. She is well informed and prepared for each occasion so she looks prepared.
So on this extraordinary day I am proud to say as a British lady “Happy Birthday Elizabeth”.