Last Sunday evening, I realised just how many things I learned from The Queen.
My family and I were driving back to Ely after dinner in Cambridge when we noticed Ely Cathedral rising over the Fens. The Octagon Tower was lit in purple to honour the late Queen. It was impressive, moving and very beautiful, so we drove to the city to see up close.
As I stood in the shadow of the historic cathedral, I reflected on the life of our late monarch. She has been such a constant in my life, a symbol of unity and a reassuring presence in challenging times. I thought about how much I looked up to the late Queen, and how much she, and her life, have taught me.
Here are just a few of the things I learned from The Queen.
What I do each day matters
There are times we all feel like we are insignificant or that we lack influence. While this may be true from time to time, most of us have no idea just how much effect our actions have in and on the world.
As the late Queen pointed out, “In times of doubt and anxiety the attitudes people show in their daily lives, in their homes, and in their work, are of supreme importance.”
The stranger you smile at or say hello to as you walk down the street, the patience you demonstrate as you wait in line at the coffee shop or grocery store, the compliment you give someone, the care you take when you make a meal, all of these tiny actions make a difference to the people involved – and to the people who they come into contact with afterwards.
Our individual, seemingly unimportant, daily actions all combine to make a difference in the lives of others. The ripple effect means we can change the world. Of all the things I learned from the Queen, this feels like one of the most important.
Small steps can lead to big progress
In her 2019 Christmas message, the late Queen pointed out that “It’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.” This is profoundly true when we look at world history, but it also has practical application in our personal lives.
Since then, I have endeavoured to remember to implement the process of breaking large or daunting tasks down into smaller, more achievable chunks. When I act on this royal advice, the results speak for themselves.
It’s okay to make mistakes
The Queen had her share of challenges in her reign and things didn’t always go to plan. However, she adjusted her course each time and her future actions demonstrated that she had learned from the experience. I can only hope I react to and learn from my many mistakes as gracefully as she did.
People will remember how you made them feel
One of the things I often hear about the Queen is that she made people feel like they were the only person in the room. I experienced this myself a few years ago at Royal Ascot. As she and the Duke of Edinburgh passed close to us in their carriage, I was quite sure she looked right at me with a wonderful twinkle in her eye. I was walking on air for the rest of the day.
I have no doubt others standing near me felt the exactly the same way. I’m not sure exactly who she really did look at, but each of us was convinced we were the one. The Queen had a real gift for making people feel seen.
Speak confidently about your faith
It can be daunting expressing our beliefs, but when we share, we can encourage and support one another. Whatever your faith, it’s important you speak confidently of it to inspire others.
“To many of us, our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and his example.” HM Queen Elizabeth II
Never underestimate the importance of fun
There are so many photographs of our Queen smiling and laughing – and making those around her smile and laugh as well. It is said that she loved the outdoors, her horses, her hobbies (which at times included photography, gardening and stamp collecting) and of course, spending time with her family.
It’s easy to feel guilty about taking time out, but The Queen’s example shows us that it’s okay to make time for the things we enjoy.
Things I learned from The Queen
These are just some of the things I learned from the Queen. She lived a life of service, but she lived her life well. If I can emulate even a little of her curiosity, zest for life and enthusiasm, I will be very happy indeed.