Royal Biographer Reveals The One Cliché Queen Elizabeth Personifies

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In her 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II has developed a reputation as a monarch with a serious air of authority. But those close to the queen tell a very different story. Royal biographer Robert Hardman conducted extensive interviews with palace insiders for his new book, "A Queen for Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II" — and in a March 2022 interview with People, he debunked some of the common misperceptions surrounding the British monarch. 

For example, Hardman wants the public to know that Her Majesty is quite happy with her life. It's true that the queen wasn't born knowing she would wear the crown, as her uncle, King Edward VIII, was reigning at the time of her birth. But her life changed drastically when her uncle abdicated the throne in 1936 in order to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Because the queen's father, George VI, unexpectedly became king in his place, Britannica reports that it put his oldest child Elizabeth next in line. Though fictional accounts like "The Crown" depict the queen as a victim who regrets her place on the throne, Hardman writes that she truly "enjoys" her role. The Netflix series might have "showed her being miserable all the time, [but] that's just not how it is," according to People. Instead, Hardman calls Her Majesty "a very upbeat and positive person." But her positivity is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to personality traits the public isn't aware of.

The queen displays the famed British spirit of endurance

Far from being a figurehead, Queen Elizabeth II is an active player in the British government. Biographer Robert Hardman told People that the public is under the impression she's merely a "symbolic" figure who does what she's told. Instead, "When you get behind the scenes of so many of these events, she does keep politicians on their toes." And if there's one cliché that actually "does personify" the queen, it's the oft-quoted "Keep calm and carry on," according to Hardman. Speaking to People, he explained, "Even in the dark days, she is an optimist and soldiers on." In Hardman's experience, at least one member of the queen's staff attributes this resilience to her pragmatic personality. Unlike her ancestor Queen Victoria I, who tended to dwell on the past after the death of her beloved Prince Albert, Queen Elizabeth prefers to keep her eye on the here-and-now. "Whereas many of her family, including Prince Charles, are romantics at heart, the Queen is a realist," Hardman wrote in his book, "A Queen for Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II" (via People).

The queen also serves as a comforting symbol of the British reputation for strength and endurance. "She is such a reassuring figure," Hardman told People. "When you have moments of great uncertainty, there's that sense that the wheels aren't going to fall off, that the country will still be there tomorrow — as long as there's still a flag flying above Buckingham Palace."