Queen Elizabeth II needs little introduction; as leader of the Commonwealth and matriarch of the House of Windsor, she has steadied the royal ship on numerous occasions, not only outliving many of her contemporaries but also providing a sense of stability and hope for millions of Britons through some of the toughest of times in the kingdom’s history. The fact that her life has spawned a hit TV series – not to mention countless documentaries – comes as little surprise as this enduring global icon closes in on the Platinum Jubilee of her reign.
DATE OF BIRTH
21 April 1926
Coronation on 2 June 1953
Reigned from 6 February 1952 to date
Longest reigning monarch in British history
Contribution to modernising the monarchy
A much loved and respected figure across the globe
When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future
Queen Elizabeth II
Q: What attributes have defined Queen Elizabeth’s reign?
A: At the age of 26, the Queen promised that she would devote her whole life to our service; and at 94, no one can accuse her of not living up to this.
She’s faced enormous challenges, stood up to critics, managed criticism of parts of her family and yet, has continued in a role more demanding than anything we could imagine for much longer than almost anyone else. She is resilient and strong, but does not take herself too seriously and has a great sense of fun.
Q: Are there particular lessons that can be learned from her role as a monarch in terms of grace and staying power?
A: The Queen must love her role or she would not be so genuinely good at it. However, it must impose enormous strain on herself and her relationships.
She never lies down and accepts defeat; in fact, challenges make her more determined to keep going, suggesting that she’s also confident in her own ability.
Moreover, she makes people believe she’s interested in meeting them; when I was honoured by her in 2015, she asked me some well-informed questions about Sri Lanka and cracked a cheeky joke at my expense.
Then after she stood for hours at her age, we were told the Queen went horse riding. For my generation, she has been the one constant throughout our lives. In some ways, she frames who we all are.
Q: What can leaders do to embody the same grace and character in their own roles?
A: For the Queen to stay in her role this long, she must have an incredible rapport with people she works with. Despite their deference for the role, I would imagine she has a relationship with them built on trust, respect and openness.
She always finds ways of encouraging those around her and the people at large; and she inspires people to work together with a common goal. Above all else, leaders need to stay grounded – as my limited knowledge of the Queen makes me believe she is.
Elizabeth Moir MBE
Founder of three schools in Sri Lanka
Head – Elizabeth Moir School
Malala Yousafzai only recently graduated from university and yet, she’s had a more profound impact on the world than most could dream of. Perhaps being the daughter of an education activist provided the confidence to press forward with her agenda but it in no way diminishes the courage she displayed following an attack on her…
Dame Anna Wintour is widely considered to be among the most influential figures in fashion, earning recognition for her eye for trends and supporting young designers. Beginning her career in fashion journalism with two British magazines, she is credited with reviving Vogue and revolutionising the industry in her role as its Editor-in-Chief. She was also…
Oprah Winfrey’s signature catchphrase (among others) goes something like this: “You get a car! You get a car! Everybody gets a car!” As far as magnanimous TV show giveaways are concerned, Oprah sets the bar. Her sense of generosity has won hearts the world over and the fact that she’s overcome many a struggle in…
Serena Williams is hailed as one of the best female tennis players in the Open Era. Her entry on the court meant a shakeup of the global tennis order. A role model and one of the most recognisable faces in the sport, Williams is also known for her style statements – both on and off…
Justin Trudeau is no stranger to the political arena, being one of only two children to be born into a prime minister in office in Canada. A teacher by profession, his ascension to the role of Canadian PM in 2015 meant he’d carry on the Trudeau dynasty – but with a new age philosophy to…
Greta Thunberg is credited for inspiring an international movement to fight climate change. Launching her campaign in 2018 with a protest in front of the Swedish Parliament House when she was 15, the teenager urged students around the world to join her and inspired more than 20,000 in several countries to demonstrate and call for…
Kumar Sangakkara has been described as an elegant batsman, a reliable wicketkeeper and an astute thinker during his cricketing career – and together with his close friend Mahela Jayawardene, he was the cornerstone of Sri Lankan cricket’s leadership for some 15 years. An iconic brand ambassador for Sri Lanka for more than a decade, Sangakkara…
Michelle Obama is such a popular figure that many of her fellow citizens wish she’d run for office – even if she seems to promptly decline the offer on any given occasion. More recently, the Grammy Award winning former First Lady of the US has inspired people across the world through her memoir Becoming, which…
Barack Obama altered the course of history when he became President of the US – and he continues to act as a symbol of hope for millions of Americans who have faced untold discrimination at the hands of their more privileged oppressors. His presidential successor may be termed the ‘Tweeter-in-chief’ (mainly for his frequent social…
Elon Musk has looked to revolutionise transportation by introducing fully electric vehicles on a large scale. Focussing on the internet, space and clean energy, the entrepreneur and self-made billionaire – who counts an estimated new worth of almost US$ 43 billion – is widely regarded as an inspirational figure in tech; and he has declared…
Angela Merkel is considered the de facto leader of the EU… unsurprisingly so. The record four time German Chancellor, who is a scientist by profession, has often been called upon to play peacemaker in a region fraught with diverse interests. Amid an apparent shift to insularism in neighbouring Britain as well as across the Atlantic,…
Emmanuel Macron assumed the role of President of France as recently as May 2017 and his new age political philosophy is attributed to his election to the highest office in the land. The investment banker turned politician established a liberal and progressive movement – En marche – as part of his presidential bid, drawing the…