This week we must pause and reflect upon the death of the greatest personal brand of them all, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
She is the most famous, trusted face on the planet.
Last year, The Express reported that the Queen’s brand is “greater than Nike, Ferrari and Pepsi” according to polling by TV producer Nick Bullen for a programme about the Royal Family and whether they are ‘worth it’ to the tax payer. Only tech titans like Apple, Amazon Google and Facebook had their heads in the clouds up there with Her Majesty. The Queen, according to his research, is 23 times bigger than the Beckhams and three times bigger than the Obamas when considering brand recognition and favourability.
The Netflix series The Crown fortunately and befittingly cast her in the most positive light and kept her legacy intact, for an even wider global audience.
In January 2020, a total of 73 million households worldwide had watched The Crown since it began in 2016.
The Crown Series four, infact, had 600,000 more viewers in its first week than Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s real wedding had in 1981 as 29 million globally tuned in.
Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer of Netflix said: “The Crown’s popularity grows with each new season”. It’s part of a “global cultural zeitgeist” he says.
The image of Queen Elizabeth II was mostly favourable throughout her years as a reigning monarch. Conservative in dress, she was well known for her solid-colour overcoats and matching hats, which allowed her to be seen easily in a crowd. A beacon. Our lighthouse.
She certainly called to me in New Zealand as a child, with her face emblazoned on all of the dollar notes, and stories of the Royal Family appearing in all of the women’s magazines all of the time.
Her steadfastness and constancy was an assurance for us all.
She united the polarising opposites of Britain as a nation like no other.
“Her Majesty is a pretty nice girl but she doesn’t have a lot to say,” said Sir Paul McCartney, who wrote this line in his Abbey Road album.
That was the mark of The Queen’s ability to remain a unifier and mother of the nation. She was near yet so far. She was aloof yet at our bedside reading a nighttime story.
As John Sergeant just pointed out, The Queen was never actually interviewed. Not even once.
And that ‘known unknowness’ was what allowed us all to project all of our emotions onto her.
This is a quality of the greatest, most enduring personalities.
She also punctuated her reign with a fine sense of humour. Notably the sketch with Paddington Bear for her Jubilee celebrations or a stint with James Bond for the London Olympics.
The clever mix was exquisite.
Always measured and always balanced.
She remained steadfastly non-partisan, but at pivotal moments in history, she gave us a clue as to where we should steer the ship. On Brexit. On the Scottish Independence Referendum she subtly, oh so subtly gave us guidance or a nudge.
Britishness is the ultimate soft power, well ahead of even China. Even with the waning of the Empire, Britain’s influence across the world is everywhere.
Apart from Language, England of course gave us Time. The Steam Engine. The Electric Motor. Roads. Cricket. The World Wide Web.
The English language reigns supreme with over 1.5 billion speakers. 15% of the global population, pipping at the post Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Spanish and French.
Tourism in England contributes £100 Billion to the British economy and supports 2 million jobs.
Brand Britain, with Her Majesty at the helm is the driver of exports including Gold, Cars, Turbo-jets, Medical mixes, Crude oil, Platinum, Aircrafts, Processed petroleum oils, Alcohol, Blood fractions and Automobile parts.
Names like AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline for pharamceuticals; Smith & Nephew for medical equipment; BP for oil and gas; Mondi Group for paper; Rio Tino for mining; SAB Miller for beverages have all benefited from Her Majesty’s warm glow and occasional subtle interventions.
The Queen not just personified but was Britishness.
Words that describe Her Majesty, The Queen, according to commentators include:
She covered all bases. On the 40th anniversary of the Sex Pistols releasing Anarchy in the UK, on the 26th November 2016, I ‘shockingly’ organised a £5 million punk memorabilia burn to signify how the corporate world had misappropriated punk for the likes of Virgin punk credit cards McDonald’s Punk McNuggets.
The Times ran on page 3 an image that I organised, taken in front of Buckingham Palace, where the son of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, burnt his original 1977 shirt of ‘God Save The Queen’ which had a picture of The Queen with a safety pin through her nose, created by Dame Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren.
This was a disrespect. But respect.
Despite all the anti-establishment Sex Pistols era, in 2006, Vivienne Westwood, proudly accepted her damehood for services to fashion.
Vivienne Westwood, albeit, wearing no knickers, visited the Palace to collect her title.
Earlier, after receiving her OBE from the Queen in 1992, Vivienne Westwood took a twirl around one of the courtyards of Buckingham Palace in front of a crowd of paparazzi and was famously snapped in all her commando glory.
At 96, The Queen remained determined to carry out her duties as she appointed Liz Truss as her 15th Prime Minister. A coronation itself of sorts.
Her reign of 70 years and 214 days was the longest of any British monarch and the second-longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country. At the time of her death, Elizabeth was Queen of fourteen Commonwealth realms in addition to the UK, all part of the Commonwealth, a 54-member group of former British colonies.
She was, and will always be, Elizabeth The Great.