5 Lessons in Leadership and Life from Queen Elizabeth II

Updated: Sep 18

As the country and the world prepare to bury Queen Elizabeth II on Monday, it has been easy to get lost in the countless articles and ongoing news coverage of her 70-year reign, the challenges she faced, and all she witnessed, experienced and achieved in her role as the head of the monarchy and her family. She carried out more than 21,000 official engagements including welcoming more than 112 heads of state, including 13 US presidents, and was the most traveled monarch in history, making her hospitality expertise particularly relevant to herteliers!

Lessons in Leadership Queen Elizabeth II

Here are five takeaways from Her Majesty:

  1. Keep Calm and Carry On One of three official wartime slogans from 1939, it seems the Queen took the message to heart no matter what challenge was placed in front of her, political or personal. Growing up under the backdrop of war, at age 18 the future Queen insisted on playing her part by signing up for the women's branch of the Armed Forces, training as a mechanic. During her reign, Britain was involved in six major conflicts from the Suez Crisis in the 1950s to the current invasion of Ukraine. She navigated family matters, from the public backlash of Princess Diana’s death to the more recent connection of Prince Andrew to convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein—all situations she handled with grace. My own Mom would often say, “This too shall pass,” in times of crisis, and I can’t help thinking the Queen did too.

  2. Adapt to change From her early days, the Queen embraced technology and saw the power it had to help communicate. She made her first morale-boosting public address at age 14 to help children cope during the war and insisted on televising her Coronation–against the advice of Churchill and the Archbishop of Canterbury–the Queen has always kept up with the times.

  3. Have a sense of humor From the recent skit with Paddington Bear for her Jubliee to parachuting with James Bond at the Olympics to pranking tourists on a hike in Scotland and classic one-liners the Queen was the Queen of using humor to make others feel more at ease or diffuse a tense situation. My personal favorite: in an argument with the queen mother, the elder royal said to her daughter—“Who do you think you are?” To which Queen Elizabeth smiled and replied: “The Queen, mummy, the Queen.”

  4. Master small talk She was considered one of the best at the “art of conversation,” according to James Rosebush, a Reagan White House official and founder of GrowthStrategy.us, who met the Queen on several occasions, the Queen “never, ever talked about herself or complained about anything. The focus was always on the other person and delivered as if she were really interested in my answers."

  5. Have a routine, make time for self-care and family The Queen supposedly had the same morning routine wherever she was in residence, wake at 7:30, have a cup of Earl Grey, listen to the radio, bathe, dress, and get ready for breakfast at 8:30. This set her up for a productive day. For self-care, she always made sure to spend time daily with her beloved corgis, take long walks, or go horseback riding which she did well into her 90s. There is no doubt that beyond the public persona, her family provided a foundation from which she drew strength and comfort throughout her life––from her strong bond with Prince Philip to her adoration of her children and grandchildren––her family was her priority and she made time for them.