As a young girl growing up, the Queen represented the ultimate power icon for me.
Crowned just a few years after my grandparents were born, throughout my life and that of my family, the monarchy has always been synonymous with Queen Elizabeth II.
Read my reflection on the death of the Queen, including her intergenerational importance and how I will always remember her as a model of strong female leadership.
Queen Elizabeth II as a role model
As one of the countless girls who grew up watching the Disney Princesses, the real Royal Family held a certain fascination for me.
From an early age, I started to read books and collect souvenir magazines about Queen Elizabeth II. Needless to say, I was in awe of Her Majesty and all the mystery and glamour that came with her life.
As we take some time to reflect on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II in the wake of her death, for me, and for women everywhere, she will always remain a role model.
Queen Elizabeth II first came to the throne at a time when women were viewed as second class citizens. In the 1950s, women were not expected to head out to work, let alone rule a country.
Her Majesty proved to the Royal Family, society and women that a woman can do a job just as well as a man, continuing to reign as monarch for longer than any previous King or Queen.
It would have been easy for her to defect to her husband on state matters. However, she took great pride in her work and she performed her duties until the day she died.
Queen Elizabeth’s attitude to her role as head of state will always stay with me. From pink lights on Buckingham Palace for breast cancer awareness to her iconic meeting with Paddington towards the end of her life, the 23 years of her reign that I witnessed included touching and often humorous moments from one of the most powerful leaders in the world.
Even before Her Majesty became Queen, she worked as a mechanic in the Second World War. This is my favourite fact about our late Queen. It’s touching that the young Princess chose to train as a mechanic, instead of locking herself away in the Palace at this difficult time.
As a woman growing up in the early 21st century, Queen Elizabeth will always represent a model of female leadership for me. With a lack of women in many major leadership positions, I consider myself very lucky to have had her example. In fact, those leaders present at the proclamation of King Charles III were the ones in power as I grew up, most of them men.
However, this instance of female leadership was even more important for my Mum growing up in the 1970s and 1980s or my Grandma growing up in the 1950s. Queen Elizabeth showed women across the UK that they could be as strong and powerful as men. If a woman could rule a country, why couldn’t a woman get a job? Why couldn’t she fight for equal rights?
As I grew up, that early fascination with Her Majesty turned into respect and admiration for everything the Queen accomplished, not just on a personal level but on behalf of women everywhere.
The intergenerational legacy of Queen Elizabeth II
During the local Platinum Jubilee celebrations that took place in June 2022, I remember viewing an exhibition at my local art gallery that showed images from the Queen’s visit to Sheffield in 1954.
In every image, the Queen shows kindness to everyone she passes. She greets each person with a smile and some of the images show her stopping to speak to families and children.
Included with the images were quotes from women living in some of the poorest estates in the city, speaking of the Queen’s kindness and telling funny anecdotes about Her Majesty. To me, it is incredible that this woman, with more wealth than anyone in the country, could find common ground with ordinary Yorkshire women.
Even now, after her death, Her Majesty continues to speak to women from across the decades as a prime example of female leadership.
From a zoomer like me in my 20s to a boomer like my grandma in her 70s, the impact of Queen Elizabeth II on each generation of women has never wavered in its importance.
After over 70 years under the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, it’s an odd thought that, for the foreseeable future, the monarch will be male. In fact, we will likely not see a female monarch again until the 22nd century.
Queen Elizabeth II: A personal reflection on our late monarch
Queen Elizabeth II meant a lot to me and to many people across the UK.
Her attitude towards the role of Queen and her incredible work ethic are just a few of the reasons why she represented a model example of female leadership during my lifetime, and for the women who came before me.
I hope future generations continue to look back at the late Queen as an example of the good that can come from women in power. Her legacy as a leader and as a woman will live on for many years to come.