With the recent passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, I feel like we’ve lost one half of a team that represented a way of life–namely duty–for an entire generation of people all around the world. The lyrics to that lovely Joni Mitchell song… ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone’ echo in the back of my mind a little too often now.
Yes, the whole royal thing is full of pomp and circumstance, ritual and bore, elitism and even the very definition of ‘out of touch’. It’s traditional to the point of being archaic, self important to the point of silliness.
The royal subjects are all over the place about the royal subject. Brits love them. Brits are weary of them. And some Brits, let’s be honest, are done with them. It is now an open, full debate as to whether or not the monarchy is, in their parlance, ‘fit for purpose’.
What’s more, it seems several of The Firm’s members can hardly be considered fit for anything: Prince Andrew’s choice of friends (Jeffrey Epstein), Prince Harry’s penchant for over-sharing (Oprah), Prince Williams decision to follow suit (YouTube), and Prince Michael of Kent’s alleged ‘cash for Russian access’ disaster (Vladimir Putin).
I mean, really, has the Good Judgment Committee in Buckingham Palace just completely left the building?
God Save the Queen, indeed.
For decades, she and Prince Philip did their best to ‘hold up the side’, as they say, doing their jobs with some support and minimal faux pas from the steadier Princess Anne and the royal we never hear about, Prince Edward.
Queen Elizabeth continues to fulfill her duties, even after the loss of her husband. Yes, most are ceremonial and even meaningless. Still, she does them. And in doing them, she sets an example.
So, with that in mind, I’d like to offer up the Queen’s Rules, compiled by a royal biographer, after the death of Prince Philip. They offer a philosophy, a perspective, and a more than a little inspiration to us all, from someone who, as we say, has ‘walked the walk’, not just ‘talked the talk’.
Well done, Ma’am.
1. Recharge your willpower – Elizabeth II’s self-control appears limitless because she takes time to replenish it — grasping, as research shows, that willpower is akin to a battery that requires routine recharging. Teatime is that crucial interval for the queen: a sacred break in her hectic day when she rests for a quiet hour with a fragrant pot of tea.
2. Stick to a schedule – From her first day as queen, Elizabeth has calmed her mind by following a strict daily regimen, ending each day by writing in her journal.
3. Develop your sense of purpose – The queen lives for something larger than herself — her country. Studies show having a dedicated cause helps immunity and reduces one’s risk of Alzheimer’s.
4. Serve others – The patron of hundreds of charities, Elizabeth II believes that giving herself to good causes can do “as much as anything … to help me put my own worries into perspective.” Her reward: an infusion of an anti-inflammatory hormone.
5. Sweeten the self-talk – “I find that I can often put things out of my mind which are disagreeable,” the queen once said. So-called purposeful repressors — people who consciously dial down negative mind chatter — benefit from a kind of psychological armor. As Elizabeth II observed at one point, “The trouble with gloom is that it feeds upon itself.”
6. Brush aside vanity – From the beginning of her reign, the queen has made a deliberate effort to practice what behavioral psychologists call self-distancing. She can, with a complete lack of vanity, comb through a daily onslaught of personal stories in the tabloids and still remain a detached and, frequently, amused spectator.
7. Never stop playing – Elizabeth II still takes time, almost every day, to play as she loved to as a child (specifically, with horses). Doing so has kept her muscles active and her mind remarkably agile, thanks to play’s unique ability to suspend the brain in a youthful, flexible state.
8. Keep the faith – The queen attends church every Sunday and prays every night before bed, grounding rites that have been an essential component of her iconic resilience. Whatever worries the world throws at her, she believes there is a higher throne on which to lay them.
9. Be open to change – At an age when many find it hard to accept altered conditions, Elizabeth II has never stopped learning and adapting. “Change has become a constant,” she remarked in 2002. “The way we embrace it defines our future.”
10. Cherish your crowning years – Elizabeth II smiles more nowadays and is more warmly approachable than ever. All of this supports the scientific phenomenon known as the U-bend of life — the discovery that the world’s happiest people tend to be those who are in their 80s and beyond.