Jayne Dawson: The Queen at 90 has five valuable lessons for us all

l
l
0
Have your say

She has made it - I think. Let’s just say that if something happens between now and tomorrow it will be awfully bad luck, and leave it at that.

The Queen is 90. She has lived through much, she has endured much. I’m not saying people don’t have it tougher, but the job can’t be easy.

I am, as you may know, a big fan of Her Majesty. I don’t know why, it doesn’t fit in with any of my core beliefs but there it is. I am hopelessly lost in admiration.

And though her life is a bizarre one-off, she is showing us the path forward in lots of ways. Here is what we can learn from the Queen.

You can still be working at 90. I’m not saying this is good, I’m just saying it’s possible. I know Her Maj isn’t stacking shelves at Asda, or operating a fork lift truck at B&Q - though I bet she could with minimal training - but she is still on duty. Now that pensions are becoming a fantasy, just a wonderful aberration that happened to some people born last century, we’re all going to have to follow where she leads.

You’re right, we won’t have her domestic help or her access to superb health care, but we will have to show her backbone and keep going somehow. I’m imagining light duties - and it might be preferable to having a sing-song in the care home.

You should never take your spouse too seriously. The secret of a long and successful marriage is affectionate indifference. This, I am convinced, is how our Queen has negotiated all those difficult times when, as she placidly took the lead, Prince Philip brought up the rear spitting racist comments, off-colour jokes and a wide variety of offensive remarks.

She didn’t explain, she didn’t apologise for any of this. She simply ignored all that was occurring beneath her dignity. This has proved itself to be a marvellous strategy and a template for us all.

There is no need to be an invisible woman. This is a thing that happens to women as they age. They start to be ignored. As a woman, it’s not always easy to get your voice heard at the best of times but once you lose the blessed collagen of youth it’s even tougher. In meetings, at the bar trying to order a drink, walking past the building site, it’s all the same. You are a ghost of your former self. The Queen has worked out the perfect formula to deal with this scenario: wear really startlingly bright colours. Make sure you can be seen from space. That’ll show them who is boss.

It is best to ignore fashion in all things. While popular culture whirls the rest of us round, the Queen has stuck to liking what she likes and doing what she does. We could do worse than copy her.

The Queen likes corgis, that most unfashionable and unlovable of dog; She likes barley water, that most unfashionable and insipid of drinks, and she likes huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’, whatever the prevailing mood in the country. She has liked these things so long that from time to time she brings them back into fashion, not that it makes any difference to her.

It never pays to get over-excited. This might be hard for young people to understand brought up as they have been in a world that has never been more shrieky but it is possibly the Queen’s greatest lesson to us all, that calmness, stoicism and a blank expression can work really well, and she has shown us this many times when put to the test.

“Someone is firing a pistol at me as I ride ceremoniously and also side saddle through London? Carry on, no harm done.”

“Someone has just tried to kidnap my daughter? It was nothing, she’s fine.”

“A man has broken into Buckingham Palace in the middle of the night, found his way into my bedroom and is standing by my bed? Let’s have a chat then.”

All of the above is a faithful account of incidents that happened to our Queen, and how she reacted. If I reach 90, I hope I’m as cool as she is.

Victoria Gate in Leeds.

Andrew Cooper: Leeds providing a premier retail experience