Last week was Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee, and for those of us stateside that might not know what that means, it marks the 70 year anniversary of the Monarch’s reign. The people of England turned out in droves, with street parties, concerts, and festivities celebrated over four days to celebrate the Queen and all things royal. For many of us across the pond though, royal jubilation is somewhat of a mystery. We know who she is, but what does she do?
According to research by Statista, the Queen’s personal brand is the most recognized in the world, surpassing the Kardashians, Oprah, Obama, and Bill Gates. While she may not have a job title anyone could easily describe, her brand is powerful. Let’s take a look using values, as we would with any other brand, to understand how the Queen’s communicates powerful ideas to not only England, but the whole world.
This one might be obvious for an institution that’s lasted over 1,000 years, but the Queen’s brand of tradition is more than waving Union Jacks and performing ceremonious acts that have lasted centuries. You might remember her James Bond skit from the 2012 Summer Olympics, or this year’s Jubilee Tea with Paddington Bear, both examples of the creative ways the Queen remains both classic and current as a way to sell what it means to be British.
Surely, using the same coronation spoon for 700 years and the daily changing of the guards communicates a commitment to history, monarchy, and pride in the nation’s rich history, but the Queen manages to play tradition in two ways, by also engaging with contemporary pop culture in subtle ways to enhance the idea of the family as a modern and forward thinking, and by extension the country as well. Amidst the backdrop of demands for reparations and colonial reckoning, it may not be enough, but it’s an effort to espouse a positive and palatable form of progressive Britishness that won’t polarize the nation.
Benevolence is a value that similarly evokes a sense of unity and equality. For the Queen and the Royal family, this largely looks like charity work and philanthropy around the world. From the public perspective, this is what they spend most of their time doing, but it’s more than a way to pass the time and share some of their enormous wealth. On the family’s website, it states, “The Sovereign acts as a focus for national identity, unity and pride; gives a sense of stability and continuity; officially recognizes success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service.”
Again, presenting the idea of Britain as a country that’s open, welcoming, and in service to those less fortunate. The branding of the Queen’s celebrations itself heavily involved mobilizing festivities on a national and local level, making the idea of unity all the more expected of British nationals. Whether you’re a royalist or not, the chances of you still going to a street party are high, since celebrating the Queen is communicated as a way to celebrate unity and welcomeness more generally.
Lastly, the question of the Queen’s final decline is not far from anyone’s lips, and added an extra weight to this year’s Jubilee given that she’s 96 years old. It just takes a quick Google of ‘The Queen of England’ to see countless articles speculating on the state of her health, whether she’s still alive at all, and what will happen in the immediate moments after she does pass. For a figure that doesn’t impact much on British politics of daily lives of those in the country, it says a lot about her symbolic presence that such hysteria exists around her absence.
For most people, this is the only Queen of England they’ve known, and there’s a sense of stability in the way she’s represented the nation so consistently over the years. She is the last link to the age of empire (only literally), and in a time of political turmoil post-Brexit, and increasing political divides everywhere, many wonder what things will look like without her unifying presence. Given the strength of her brand, it will be interesting to see how much truth is in the old expression ‘Long Live the Queen’.
Thanks for reading!