Royal Relationship

The Queen and Ban Ki Moon at the United Nations

The Queen and Ban Ki Moon. Address at the United Nations

Growing up in the United Kingdom, the Queen has been a constant in my life. My first memory, was accidently walking into her at a trade fair for the Badminton Horse Trials. I wasn’t looking where I was going and when I looked up, not very far, since she is quite short, I saw a wise woman wearing a brown rain coat, a head scarf and intensely polished old brown shoes. It took me a moment to realize it was the Queen before I ducked out of her way.

More recently, whilst staying in a hotel in Bayswater, London, I put my head out of the window when I heard the sound of horses hooves on the street outside. Incredibly, 6 horses were pulling a massive gun carriage, at a canter, en route to the army barracks in Hyde Park. Now you say, why do you need to gallop your gun carriage around London? – a tad excessive perhaps, a bit over the top. The citizens of Great Britain indulge you in this activity because of what – tradition? Heck if you had a gun carriage and a standing army in Central London, wouldn’t you want to show them off when they go out exercising?

My other memories of her are more indirect. For example, everyone on my street enjoyed a block party held for her in 1975 to celebrate her Silver Jubilee. We all received a commemorative mug which we have somewhere. On the radio we hear her voice when something really bad happens, expressing her condolences or laying a wreath for the fallen ones. She opens schools and universities. She rides her horse and walks her Corgies in her own garden. She invites people to have tea with  her and gives them prizes of recognition.

To this day my family gathers to listen to her broadcast address to the nation at 3 p.m. on Christmas Day. We standup while the National Anthem plays and then settle down to listen. As a teenager and in my 20’s it all seemed rather silly and pointless and very out of touch with real life.

With age and distance I have softened and become quite attached to this marvelous career woman. Today, when she spoke to the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York I was deeply moved by her words. This time it was personal, she was imprinting her legacy on the Assembly and by extension the world.

In her speech she said “It has perhaps always been the case that the waging of peace is the hardest form of leadership of all,” She went on to say, “I know of no single formula for success, but over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together.”

These are the words of a wise woman. After 58 years on the thrown, she is still passionate, on point and modeling what real leadership can look like.  For the cost of just 62 pence a year (about 1 dollar) per person, the people of Great Britain pay for her upkeep. On days like today, I think it is something citizens can well afford.

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