Two Lessons from the Life of Queen Elizabeth II

I just finished reading a biography of Queen Elizabeth. It has been a while since I read a biography, and I was reminded of why they are so good. You learn so much including history, significant and insignificant details about the person, and, obviously, his/her life story. One other thing, in addition, is that you learn much about human nature. You can identify with the person because they are, well, human. A biography is not a book that dictates to you what you should or should not do, but rather it articulates what someone did. As a thinking reader, you will find yourself placing yourself in the situation and thinking, “How would I have responded?”

I gleaned much from Queen Elizabeth’s life, British history, the monarchy, etc. There have been a couple of things, though, that have been going through my mind that I want to share.

1. Your Greatest Strength Can Often Be Your Greatest Weakness.

I have heard this many times, but it really hit home to me in Elizabeth’s life. She has had, in many ways, an impeccable character. I admire her for so many things. One thing she is known for is for being “the most humble monarch” England has known. She is genuinely interested in others, and never imposes and rarely even shares her opinions with anyone. Anyone. And there lies her weakness. It is said that she refused to “interfere” with her children.

“The Queen is the least self-absorbed person you could ever meet.”
“That is her policy. She never says anything to her children. She is a very decent person, but she won’t intervene with anyone.” (p. 305)

She is not self-absorbed. I respect that, and find it extremely honorable. But how can you be so self-absorbed that you are afraid to step in when you need to, especially when it might actually save your children from disaster? This quote was in reference to finding out about her Charles’ ongoing relationship with Camilla and Diana’s psychological problems, including eating disorders and suicidal tendencies before they were married. The marriage was on a down-hill trajectory before it ever started. But Elizabeth said nothing.

I am not saying that it would have necessarily changed the outcome, but the lesson I am taking away for myself is that sometimes the least self-absorbed thing to do might be to do the opposite of what you are known for doing. In this case, loving her children as herself would have caused her to overcome her own strength of not pushing herself on others, and to find a different kind of strength to lovingly warn and share her opinion.

2. Values Must be Lived and Taught.

I came away with so much respect for Queen Elizabeth II. Sixty years as queen with impeccable character. No tabloids accusing her of indecency. Faithfulness and love to her husband. Steady character. Amazing, really.

And then we think of her children. Morally, they have failed. They have brought shame to themselves and the monarchy. Divorces. Accusations. Affairs. You name it.

We often hear the phrase, “it is not what you say, but what you do.” This is often said when we think of people who spout off moral truths but live the opposite. Our children and those around us are not going to believe what we say if we live the exact opposite. This is very true and, as a mom, it is something I often think about.

But the other side is that just because you live it does not mean your children will catch it. They must be taught the truths of Scripture. Queen Elizabeth loves her Bible, hates divorce, and believes that an upright, decent character is of utmost importance. She lived that. I admire that. But I cannot help but believe that if she truly believed that the Bible was the only way she would have taught that to her children. She didn’t. She wrongly assumed that her character would rub off on them.

As a mom, I was reminded that I need to live what I believe, but I also need to teach those truths from the Source of all wisdom. Both are important.

That’s it for today! Those are a couple of things mulling around my mind since reading her story. Have you been thinking about any great truths lately? Please share!



  1. Very interesting and enlightening observations. We sometimes forget about “the other side of the coin.” Sometimes not intervering is pure selfishness– it protects us from, oh, so many unknowns!

  2. This fall our small group went through Andy Stanley’s book, The Grace of God. One of his points was that sometimes the most gracious thing we can do for someone is to lovingly point out error in their lives. Yet so often we think that confronting someone is the opposite of grace. It’s been convicting because it’s so much easier to let things slide than to deal with them. And it’s so hard to see it as an act of grace when someone points out my flaws.

    • Johanna says:

      “Yet so often we think that confronting someone is the opposite of grace. ” — So true and so difficult at the same time!


  1. […] the Queen’s 60th year of reign and hosts the 2012 summer Olympics. Last week I shared Two Lessons from the Life of Queen Elizabeth II. (This book is nearly 600 pages in length. Just so you know. […]

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