Little girls love to fantasize about becoming a princess, living a special life filled with attention and riches. In reality, very few actually have their dream become a reality. The fact is that most princesses are born into royalty. Such was the case with Elizabeth, born in London, England on April 21, 1926. Her father was Prince Albert, the second son of King George V, the reigning monarch of England, and his wife, Queen Mary.
As a child the girl, known as Lilibet, enjoyed all of the privilege of royalty. She lived the storybook life most girls imagine. When she was 10, however, things began to change. Her grandfather, King George died. As the eldest son, her uncle became King Edward VII. That would change quickly as well.
Edward was in love with an American woman and had to choose between the throne and his love. When Edward followed his heart, Lilibet’s father ascended to the throne as King George VI.
World War II broke out in 1939. The 14 year old princess began making radio broadcasts directed at the children of England. Her message was calm and direct – “All will be good as God will protect us and bring us victory and peace.” Towards the end of the war, she trained to become a driver and mechanic alongside other women. That was her first true experience with the “non-royal” world.
In 1947, she married Philip Mountbatten, a man she had first met when she was 13. The next year she gave birth to a son, Charles. A daughter, Anne, followed two years later. Her father, King George, died on February 6, 1952 – Elizabeth succeeded to the throne. Westminster Abbey, the site of her marriage, also hosted her official coronation in June of 1953.
That began a reign which would see rapid change and turbulent times. England’s position as a global power would diminish. England’s role in the world and its economy would go through major transformation. Societal norms would change as would many people’s perceptions about the role of England’s royalty. Throughout it all, Queen Elizabeth acted with an unwavering devotion to duty and country. She displayed a sense of pragmatism, an example of which was initiating regular meetings with England’s Prime Minister.
The British Empire had evolved to the Commonwealth of Nations. The Queen traveled the world in her role as head of the Commonwealth, including several significant visits. She visited Germany in 1965, the first monarch to do so in over fifty years. In 1976 she went to the United States for the bicentennial celebration of independence from British rule. Her trip to the Middle East in 1979 included visits to several countries including Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates resulted in worldwide respect for the Queen and Britain.
The reign that began in 1952 continues to this day, making her the longest reigning monarch in British history. She celebrated her 90th birthday yesterday (April 20, 2016). There have been countless positives during Queen Elizabeth’s reign. On the other hand, she has seen and dealt with family turbulence and scandal, political firestorms, worldwide financial crises and a rise in terrorism. Through it all, she is perhaps the most loved monarch ever. She remains a symbol of strength, resolve, reason and decorum.
Queen Elizabeth has accomplished so much for so long because she is a fearless brand. She is branding royalty.
Fearless Brands are consistent in character
Queen Elizabeth is much beloved in England and throughout the world. She is the epitome of consistency. Her reign has provided much needed continuity during a century of volatility and change. Her devotion to duty, country, tradition and family has been unwavering.
The amount of money it takes to support the Queen and the royal family is questioned by some. What they don’t take into account, however, is that Queen Elizabeth II is the embodiment of Britain’s national identity. The goodwill, tourism and connections with the world that exist because of Queen Elizabeth are invaluable. Rarely, if ever, has a country benefitted so much from the leadership and presence of a person who has no legal standing in the government of that country.
Very few will become a princess – much less a queen – yet there is much to learn from Queen Elizabeth II about building a brand.
Be true to your purpose – For nearly 65 years, Queen Elizabeth has held true to her sense of duty as a royal. She has maintained her primary focus on doing what is best for her country. She understands that doing so is her purpose as the Monarch of the Commonwealth. By so doing, she has accomplished much for England, and its people, that an elected official couldn’t. Want to be a fearless brand? Know your purpose. Pursue it passionately with every skill you have.
Remain relevant – For someone who grew up with all the privilege of a royal, Elizabeth has consciously taken the ‘non-royals’ into consideration. She has made the monarchy more relevant through several actions. She dropped many formalities which no longer resonated. She increased accessibility to a variety of sites and treasures which were once restricted. She welcomed a much reduced level of government funding for the monarchy. Your brand has to be consistent – yet adjustments are essential to remain relevant.
Keep your heart in your brand – This quote from the Queen best sums up this point. “I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else – I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.’ Trust your heart. Bring the love.
Queen Elizabeth II is a magnificent woman. She is the consummate fearless brand. You and I will almost assuredly never become royalty. We can, however, become fearless brands. How? Learn from the Queen – know your purpose, remain relevant and put your heart into your brand.