When it comes to living a Bold Life, there is no single defining variable. Each of us has different life circumstances that often dictate opportunities as well as responsibilities. However, how we respond to these situations is what determines whether we are living to our greatest potential. The pursuit of a truly bold life is one that not only embraces the moment but strives to make the most of it. With this as a yardstick, it’s easier to appreciate the extent to which we excel in this regard. And it also provides a lens through which we can examine others, including those in the most unique life positions.
The life of Queen Elizabeth II certainly reflects one of the more extraordinary sets of life circumstances. Not only did she achieve so many “firsts” in her 96-year life. But she achieved them in a truly bold fashion unlike any monarch before her. By no means was her situation one that was easily navigated. Despite her royal status and many luxuries, she was tasked with leading a Commonwealth through many challenging times. Even though the end result was not always ideal, her approach and demeanor demanded respect and adoration. It is through an examination of her reign that we can better recognize what living a bold life means.
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it shall be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and to the great imperial family to which we all belong … I shall not have the strength to carry out this resolution unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do. I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow and God bless all of you who are willing to share it.” – Queen Elizabeth II, radio broadcast during her 21st birthday
Accepting the Challenge
The life of Queen Elizabeth II began in 1926 when she was born to the Duke and Duchess of York. Her father, George, was not expected to become king during his lifetime given that his older brother, Edward, was firstborn. But when Edward abdicated his royal title, her father became the successor to the throne. It was then inevitable that Elizabeth, being the oldest child, would subsequently be called upon to lead. While such a destiny was not something for which she longed, she embraced it with class and honor. Her fate was established, and she recognized her role in the process. She chose a path toward living a bold life understanding the prominent place she would serve in the country’s royal history. And she not only did this early in her life but with great passion and the strongest sense of duty.
Dealing with Adversity
It’s perhaps little surprise that the path of any royal monarch is fraught with hardships and adversity over time. But the life of Queen Elizabeth II, which spanned more than 70 years, saw more than its fair share. Over the course of her reign, she was responsible for 150 nations that fell under the Commonwealth’s umbrella. As such, she had to lead through difficult economic times, times of war, and through dozens of political upheavals. She also had to deal with constantly changing social pressures both domestically and abroad. Indiscretions within the royal family occurred on several occasions. Likewise, the response to the death of Princess Diana created a its own set of troubles for the country. And making amends with past foes, including Southern Ireland, demanded a different set of skills and diplomacy. For Queen Elizabeth II, living a bold life required negotiating these highly public events on behalf of England. And with diligence and a sense of duty, she accomplished this well, endearing generations in the process.
One of the key aspects of living a bold life involves how one deals with change. Change is inevitable, certainly over seven decades of reign. But it is also extremely challenging, especially when traditional ceremonies and values conflict with new directions. During the life of Queen Elizabeth II, she saw tremendous change. This included post-war austerity after World War II as well as several periods of economic setbacks. It included the rise of media as well as the Internet Age and globalization. And it saw a number of evolving societal shifts involving what was acceptable and what was not. Without question, these developments posed threats to English traditions of behavior. It also created difficulties in her role as the Defender of the Faith for the Church of England. But with an unwavering view of her royal duties, Queen Elizabeth II learned how to embrace change and guide the Commonwealth into a new era. And as she did most things, she did so gracefully.
Using Values as Her Moral Guide
Amidst strife and mistakes, living a bold life requires some steady compass through which to guide choices. The path of least resistance might be an attractive one, but it’s often not the best decision. Notably, Queen Elizabeth II faced a variety of political dilemmas in England as well as many royal family member missteps. As a consultant and advisor to political leaders in Parliament, she encouraged what she believed to be morally right. As a diplomatic world figure, she avoided drama and opinions and instead treated all with respect and stoicism. (Read more about how to apply principles of stoicism to your daily life in this Project Bold Life story!) Underlying these behaviors was her belief and faith in the Church and her moral duty to a kingdom. And even when such actions were seen as unpopular, she held fast to her values. This too exemplifies why the life of Queen Elizabeth II was truly a bold one.
A Legacy Not Soon Forgotten
The life of Queen Elizabeth II will be remembered as one that honored the duties and responsibilities of her royal title. She is currently recognized as the oldest living sovereign in England, and likewise, the longest-serving monarch. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of her tremendous reign is the manner with which she approached her life. She did so humbly and out of obligation to those served throughout the Commonwealth of the United Kingdom. For her, living a bold life was not about personal achievements per se but seeking the country’s best interests. This degree of sacrifice along with her many talents as an individual, mother, and queen were actions that created the Boldest Life.
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