After informing my Grandmother that Her Majesty the Queen was going to visit our school on Friday 6th May, her only request was to report back on “what hat she was wearing”.
However iconic her hats may have been over the years, I believe it is safe to say that the Queen has become an icon worldwide for more reasons than this. We Brits are often inclined to believe that her Royal Highness is only influential in our country, but in fact, she has made a huge impact throughout her reign on a global scale.
The Queen’s primary sphere of influence is the Commonwealth, which has had a role of vital importance in creating harmony amongst its member states since its creation in the mid-20th century. The Queen heads this organisation, which is a social movement striving for “peace, democracy, equality and global consensus-building”, according to its mission statement. Since its formation, there has not been another world war, which is testimony to its success. Although Elizabeth II is only the official monarch for 16 of its 53 member states, her role as its leader has made her a figure for peace and equality on a global stage.
It is undeniable that the Queen brings a great deal of tourism to our country. Foreigners are fascinated by our Royal Family; an estimated two billion people in every time zone tuned in to watch the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Wedding in 2011. In 2015, tourism associated with the monarchy and its heritage raked in a total of £535 million for our country, and therefore, the Queen brings us economic prosperity. And besides - where would we be without masks of the Queen’s face coming out to play on every Great British occasion?
The Queen’s lack of involvement in political affairs has led her to become an increasingly popular figure regarding international relations. During her 64 year reign, Elizabeth II has seen a total of 12 different Prime Ministers with Parliament constantly batting back and forth between Conservative and Labour governments (with an audacious Con-Lib coalition in between). Despite this, the Queen has remained politically neutral, making her an international symbol of stability.
It is likely that the Queen is the most travelled monarch in history, having visited 116 countries during 265 official visits - particularly impressive considering she does not possess a passport! Although the Queen is evidently a well-travelled woman, she has never given any indication that she would wish to live elsewhere - unlike her predecessor, Queen Victoria, who stated that she would have rather lived in Bavaria, had she been given the chance. Instead, Elizabeth II has remained true to her roots and loyal to this great nation.
You may not think it, but our Queen has even had an influence on the world of fashion. From an early age, Elizabeth’s outfits have inspired the fashion industry and created a template for formal dressing that is still followed to this day. Not only has her fashion always been popular amongst critics, she has even managed to be diplomatic in her clothing; she ensured her coronation dress incorporated all the floral symbols of Great Britain and the Commonwealth: English roses, Irish shamrocks and Canadian maple leaves to name a few. Her more casual clothing items - quilted jackets, headscarves, tweed skirts - have inspired fashion designers for decades, from Vivienne Westwood to Dolce & Gabbana, who even dedicated an entire collection to her Royal Highness. Many of these items have become British classics and continue to inspire the fashion industry on a global scale.
We live in an ever-changing world. As Her Majesty stated: “change is a constant; managing it has become an expanding discipline. The way we embrace it defines our future”. Globalisation, inarguably the greatest change that has taken place in the last century, has led our world to become more interconnected and multicultural than ever. The Queen has effortlessly adapted to this change, leading to her becoming one of the most influential global figures to date, whose primary aim has been to create peace and harmony between Britain and the world. All I have left to say is this: God save our gracious Queen!
Original Illustration by Sam Misan