Through her 70 year reign, Queen Elizabeth conducted herself with dignity and humility. Though she was from another generation, she provided plenty of life lessons for young women to follow today. Here are eight of our favorite life lessons from Queen Elizabeth II.
1. Devote Time to Something Bigger Than Yourself
In 1947, 21-year-old Princess Elizabeth promised to devote her life to the Crown. She famously said, “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”
To say that she kept her promise would be an understatement. She not only devoted her life to public service, but reigned for 70 years and was the longest reigning monarch in British history. Not all of us can be the Queen of England, but we can take a page out of Queen Elizabeth II’s book and devote time to something more than ourselves. Whether you take up volunteering or embrace motherhood, devoting time to something bigger than yourself is a beautiful thing that gives your life meaning and encourages personal growth.
2. Always Conduct Yourself with Dignity and Grace
As mentioned above, one of the many things that made Queen Elizabeth II so iconic was how dedicated she was to her role as sovereign. We all have bad days and don’t always have control over what happens (something she likely learned hundreds of times), but we always have control over how we respond and handle situations. Queen Elizabeth II decided to handle every situation with grace and dignity, which earned her respect from people from all backgrounds, and all over the world.
This was ingrained in Elizabeth at a young age, as World War II defined her teenage years, forcing her to learn how to be brave, stand strong, and handle herself with grace in the most difficult situations. Though modern young women didn’t face this type of adversity in their teenage years, we can always remember that though we can’t control certain aspects of our lives, we can always choose how we handle them.
3. Prioritize Your Family
Queen Elizabeth II had four children, eight grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. Despite being Queen of England, she always went out of her way to prioritize her family. We can see this especially in her relationships with her grandchildren and in her protection of William and Harry after Diana’s tragic death. Some of her grandchildren have been open about her sense of humor, how she played with them, and how she’s "no different than any other grandmother," and we got to see this as her children, grandchildren, and two of her great-grandchildren mourned her loss at the funeral.
It can be tough to balance life with work, relationships, and family, but if the Queen of England can make time for her family to show how much she loves and cares for them, so can we.
4. Recognize That Some Things Are Meant To Be Private
Despite being the most famous woman in the world, very little was known about Queen Elizabeth’s private life. Maybe this can be attributed to her growing up in a different generation, but I think she was wise, knowing what to share and what to keep private – a wisdom we could all use, especially in a world dominated by social media. Today, it’s common to see others publicly document intimate details of their lives like family and personal problems for the whole internet to see. Even before social media, Queen Elizabeth knew how important it was to keep her private life private and that some things are only meant to be shared with those we care about deeply, a lesson we can all learn.
5. Be the Change You Want To See in the World
Though she held little to no political power, Queen Elizabeth II knew how to make a difference with her symbolic power and royal presence. She recognized the power of empathy from when she visited Germany to celebrate unity after World War II and every time she addressed disasters like 9/11, the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, and the coronavirus pandemic. She knew small acts could make a difference from someone in her position, and she always used it to try to make the world a better place.
She also used her sense of humor to make points about what she believed in. In 2003, then Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia visited the Queen at Balmoral during an official state visit. When she invited him to tour the grounds, she surprised him by going behind the wheel herself to make a statement about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, as Saudi women did not have the right to drive at that point in time. The Queen had been an Army driver during World War II, so she was comfortable driving quite fast on the narrow Scottish roads, chatting the whole time. Apparently, she managed to scare the Crown Prince enough that he requested she slow down!
6. Be Kind, but Don’t Be a Pushover
Queen Elizabeth II had a reputation for being kind and empathetic, but since she spent the majority of her life working with shrewd politicians and public figures, she likely knew that it was more important to be respected than liked. From her aforementioned encounter with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to how she handled assassination attempts, she made it clear that she wasn’t someone to be messed with.
She recognized that as important as it is to be kind, it’s important to not be a pushover and refuse to let people walk all over you. Like almost everything she did in her life, she managed to do this while conducting herself with grace.
7. Embrace Tradition, but Accept Change
The monarchy is all about tradition, but when you reign for seven decades, change is inevitable. While William and Kate have helped modernize the monarchy through social media and other endeavors, they couldn’t have done it without Queen Elizabeth paving the way for them. From televising important royal events like weddings to making the Royal Family more accessible to the public, she spent her entire reign successfully modernizing the monarchy.
While she embraced the many changes of technology and transparency in her reign, she still followed many traditions in her public and private life, like the annual “trooping the colour” military parade and playing a family game of charades on Christmas Day, proving that it’s possible to have the best of both worlds.
The Queen also embraced pop-culture figures like The Beatles, Elton John, James Bond, and even Paddington Bear through the years, recognizing that the Royal Family has a place in the political world and pop-culture.
8. Always Maintain Your Sense of Humor
Since her death earlier this month, you’ve likely seen a compilation of Queen Elizabeth showing off her sense of humor on your Instagram or Twitter timeline. She has been praised by family members and public figures for always conducting herself with equal parts grace and wit, proving that even when you’re the Queen of England, it’s still important to have a sense of humor.
We all know the health benefits of having a sense of humor and laughing with your loved ones, but there’s something special about watching one of the most famous and well-respected women in the world crack jokes. You can be a serious person without taking yourself too seriously, and the Queen proves that it might be the key to living a long and happy life.
From embracing empathy to always maintaining a sense of humor, Queen Elizabeth II’s life was full of timeless lessons that young woman can embrace for generations to come. Some values never go out of style!
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