Our Diamond Queen

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Earlier this week the Olympic torch reached Taunton on its journey around Great Britain, towards the Olympic stadium in London some 67 days to the opening! I am reminded that we have something else to celebrate in less than 10 days: The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Bunting bedecks the streets, Union Flags are flying at full mast and a sense of pride resonates. Garden parties, fetes, concerts and all manner of events have been organised to celebrate this uncomplaining servant by Her subjects.

At The Queen’s own garden parties 27,000 cups of tea are consumed along with 20,000 cakes and sandwiches. That’s approximately 14 items for each of the invited guests! Of course an essential ingredient for the Bank Holiday is the weather; whatever it throws at us our true British spirit will make sure we make the best of it.

20 million people watched Princess Elizabeth become Queen on 2nd June 1953. Her coronation was 16 months in the planning. Rowan Williams, the current Archbishop of Canterbury said of The Queen, “She has a profound sense of vocation, not simply stepping into a role exercising function but actually becoming a certain kind of person, which is what vocation is about”. Those lucky enough to be at the coronation were astonished by Her serenity, confidence and sense of centre.

From the very beginning The Queen wanted to be continue Her father’s and grandfather’s connection to their subjects. In 1957 at Sandringham She made a live TV broadcast: She has since done 54 Christmas addresses. She is known in the trade as ‘One take Windsor.’

Queen Elizabeth II comes across as a true professional, relaxed and sincere about what matters to Her: faith, family, the Commonwealth and of course the military. Her grandson, Prince Harry says, “Her support for the British forces is second to none. It is a huge honour for me, and the guys that I serve with; to work for such a fantastic woman. It really is that simple for us.”

There are 54 members in the Commonwealth; although now only 16 members have Her Majesty as their Head of State. The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth is indeed the glue that binds them. She is a true networker as ¼ of the world’s population and a ¼ of the world’s countries are in the Commonwealth.

Prince William explains; “it is her leadership and guidance that has seen the Commonwealth through. She has a magnificent work ethic, vast knowledge on all the countries she visits and total belief in Her job.”

The Queen’s family like many of our own has had its share of joy, tragedies, births, marriages, and they have always supported each other. Elizabeth’s legacy is now in the hands of Her children, grandchildren and her great grandchildren Savannah & Isla.

I think Zara Tindall sums her grandmother up when she said, “Family is a massive part of Her life, She is a very caring person; who you can always go to. I have massive respect for Her and love Her to bits!”

I think we all do, Zara.

Happy Diamond Jubilee, Your Majesty!

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The Queen: A Real Gem & True Mentor

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

The QueenIn just over a month it will be The Queen’s 85th Birthday; I would like to share with you my 40-year relationship with this fascinating lady.

I have been watching the excellent Andrew Marr-fronted documentary on the BBC ‘The Diamond Queen’. I realised very quickly my knowledge of Elizabeth II is coloured by events in my own life and I was on a journey of discovery about a lady that has been a constant thread.

The Queen was my father’s boss for 25 years, as he served in the Royal Air Force. Her likeness was on the coins I used to purchase my Saturday sweets and comics. She was even in the cinema with me, as the national anthem was played at the beginning of all films, when we were stationed abroad. I have seen her children get married and sadly divorced, the funeral of her mother and then the marriages of some of her Grandchildren. I have celebrated her Birthday and she was always at our house for Christmas Lunch at 3pm, punctual as ever.

I really feel I know her!

I was happily mistaken there is even more to this extraordinary gem of a woman. Elizabeth Alexandra Windsor is a person with many facets, an individual in her own right; a mother \ grandmother, indeed a great grandmother and the CEO of possibly one of the most unusual companies in the world!

During the first episode HRH The Duke of Cambridge reflects on how difficult it must have been at 25 years old to be the Monarch.

He smiles and replies with admiration in his voice, “It must have been very daunting to have all that responsibility placed on her in a time which was so male dominated.” Prince William goes on to say that his Grandmother is a true professional at her trade and knows how to engage with everyone to make them feel comfortable.”

Authenticity is a real gift; to make others feel valued reaps huge rewards for everyone. When we all take the time to be ourselves and listen we learn so much more. Winston Churchill was highly regarded by the Queen as a great orator who she said, ‘spoke in a romantic and glittering way.’ In their later dealings she discovered he was not such a good listener.

As Epictetus the Greek philosopher said, “We have two ears and one month so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

I think of all the people the Queen has had the privilege of meeting and they her: it is an illustrious list filled with Kings, Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers, movie stars, artist, musicians and even us.

Prince Harry commented, “The Queen carries herself so well and has a smile that brings a room to life.” She brings to these events colour, confidence, poise and always a touch of humour. I love the fact that as a child when the young Elizabeth was told to read more, she chose to read comedies by P. G. Woodhouse.

As the programme continued I was totally unprepared at my reaction to a speech Elizabeth gave in South Africa when she was only 21.  She read from the prepared script with such clarity of thought and dignity:

“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, but I shall not have the strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in with me, as I now invite you to do. I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.” 

As the words resonated in my head I could see how focussed and motivated she was in achieving her task, however still gracious enough to ask for support.

We all need help, support or a sounding board to enable us to be the best we can be. David Cameron, the present Prime Minister says of his weekly meetings with the Queen, “There is no-one else in the room just us, this makes me think more clearly and focuses my mind. She helps me to reveal my deepest thinking and worries about issues, that really helps you reach the answers. It is quiet simply always a frank, open and informative meeting.”

Most top CEO’s have a mentor that makes them accountable, keeps them focussed and motivated. As the programme draws to an end I realise with a smile, I have something in common with the Queen: I too do this for my clients.

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