My eldest daughter is going to be ten on her next birthday. Which is a little bit crazy, as it feels like she only arrived last week.
My sister is a brilliant children's author, and a great role model to both of my daughters. Which wasn’t necessarily on the cards when we were growing up together.
Back then, her extra curricular activities included convincing me to drink milk that had been in her school bag for weeks, and regularly stealing (and hiding) my Game Boy.
Sophie and I have chosen careers at very different ends of the spectrum, and so for obvious reasons, I couldn’t do her job.
If by some quirk of fate I was forced to, my daughter is more than aware enough to understand what stress, anxiety and imposter syndrome might look like.
The Queen’s retirement party a couple of weeks ago was a real spectacle. And with the devastation of a war in Ukraine, a Prime Minister who couldn’t tell the truth by accident, and inflation at the highest level since I was born, it felt like a real salve.
And yet when most people think of the Royal Family, we imagine impossibly large palaces, sparkling tiaras and immense privilege. Which is of course all true. But also only one side of what living that life must be like.
So in 1936, before the Queen was the Queen, she was just a ten year old child watching her father being thrust into a job he never thought he’d have to do, probably didn’t want, and thanks to a speech impediment, at the time wasn’t particularly well suited for.
And then only fifteen years later, her father was gone, and all eyes were on her. And if you think that money makes that all easier, I would probably disagree.
In fact, the relentless spotlight and the weight of expectation probably made both losing her father and being made Chief People Officer of Great Britain harder than it might otherwise have been. And all of this at twenty six years old.
But this week’s blog wasn’t really meant to be about any of this. It was supposed to be about Hampstead, and a listing I have opposite the beautiful woodland and meadows of the heath. But as is so often the case, fate intervened, and I found myself reading something by Ryan Holiday.
“Destiny called Marcus (Aurelius) to something. Perhaps he could have run from it, but the fact that he did not yearn for command was precisely what made him great. He saw it as a job, not a chance for personal advancement. He saw it as duty, not a fulfilment of his ego.
This happened to be a recipe for great leadership, being happy to serve, reluctant to lead”
The Queen isn’t a leader, not by most people’s definitions anyway. Certainly not an appointed one at any rate. But she does have so many of the qualities that we look for in leadership, and that are sadly lacking in our elected officials.
She’s steadfast. A calming influence. Is never impulsive. She understands that sometimes, no reaction is the most powerful reaction. She seems to find the right words for the moment. And above all else I think that as a nation we have come to trust her.
And in the fast paced world of 2022, I think that she has a lot to teach us.
"Distance can lend an extra dimension to judgement, giving it a leavening of moderation and compassion, even of wisdom, that is sometimes lacking in the reactions of those whose task it is in life to offer instant opinions”
Whilst I don’t think that she was specifically referring to a generation brought up in the binary and polarised world of Twitter, she does have a point, doesn't she?
And of course, it’s easy to forget that she probably didn't start off like this. But what she has been is consistent. Turning up and doing the work. In the process she’s become something of a rarity. A person who realises that integrity isn’t just what you say, it’s what you do as well.
Those of you who have read one of my blogs before are probably waiting for the point at which I turn the lessons we can learn from Liz and apply them to estate agency. But not today.
This week I’d like to pay tribute to someone who has gone about her work in a diligent, dutiful and dignified way, and given the nation a lifetime of service.
A real inspiration.
Things I’ve been inspired by this week
My sister’s new book is out. Which is kind of a plug, but also isn’t a plug at all.
Because if you (like me) have kids between seven and eleven, (or just know some) who you think would benefit from better role models, learning about coding, critical thinking and staying safe online, then Agent Asha and The Children’s Spy Agency is probably for them.
Just remember. Think for yourself. Question everything.