In her seven decades on the throne, Queen Elizabeth ll faced a rapidly changing world and plenty of obstacles. But no matter the crisis — big or small — Her Majesty remained a familiar face around the world, offering pieces of her wisdom to the public. And, to date, these have been her 20 most powerful lines — ones that may inspire you, challenge you, and touch your heart.
Finding strength together
“We have seen that it’s in hardship that we often find strength from our families. It is in adversity that we often find new friendships are formed. And it’s in a crisis that communities break down barriers and bind together to help one another.”
The Queen shared this powerful sentiment in 2011 as part of her annual Christmas Day message. It really highlights the importance of family and bringing people together in tough times.
With the people
“I have to be seen to be believed.”Television helped Her Majesty become more accessible to the public, but she was still determined to get out and interact with her subjects.
In fact, in 2015, she carried out more engagements — an impressive 341 — than Prince Harry, Prince William, and Kate Middleton had done in total all year.
“The struggles against inhuman prejudice, against squalor, ignorance, and disease, have always owed a great deal to the determination and tenacity of women.”In her 1966 Christmas broadcast, the Queen gave her thoughts on the important role that women have played throughout history.
It was a remarkably forward-thinking statement from the monarch, who certainly knows about being a woman in a man’s world.
Family all around
“Like all the best families, we have our share of eccentricities, of impetuous and wayward youngsters, and of family disagreements.”The royal family can feel artificial — walking embodiments of a flag stuffed into fancy outfits.
That’s why, in an effort to relate to her subjects, the Queen emphasized how normal life can be for her and her loved ones.
“I can never wear beige because nobody will know who I am.” According to royal biographer Robert Hardman, this is the Queen’s explanation for why she wears color-popping outfits. Basically, bright hues help her stand out at official events.
And it’s the Queen’s dressmaker, Angela Kelly, who is responsible for all of the monarch’s can’t-miss-them coats and dresses.
“The upward course of a nation’s history is due, in the long run, to the soundness of heart of its average men and women.”In her 1954 Christmas broadcast, the Queen made it clear to the British public that great change in the world can be made by anyone.
It’s a captivating message — and one that her subjects may have appreciated in tough times.
Leader to all
“I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm, and their inspiration to work together.”
While speaking to the United Nations General Assembly in 2010, the Queen gave her experienced and valuable opinion on what makes a great leader.
“When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat. Instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.”From another of her traditional Christmas broadcasts — this time in 2008 — the Queen offered the people of the U.K. a piece of wisdom.
It came at a time when life was hard for many people in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Know when it’s over
“We lost the American colonies because we lacked the statesmanship to know the right time and the manner of yielding what is impossible to keep.”
In 1976 the Queen reflected on the American Revolution 200 years before and what the battle had taught England. It seemed it was a case of know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.
By her side
“He is someone who doesn’t take easily to compliments, but he has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years."
"And I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.” Prince Philip received a special callout when the Queen commemorated her 50th wedding anniversary.
Peace and goodwill
“It has always been easy to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is much more difficult. That is why we can take a pride in the new Commonwealth we are building.”For her holiday broadcast in 1957, the Queen faced a historic moment.
It was to be her first televised message, and she rose to the challenge by offering comfort in a changing world.
While in Ireland
“The lessons from the peace process are clear: whatever life throws at us, our individual responses will be all the stronger for working together and sharing the load.”During a 2011 visit to Dublin, the Queen spoke about her views on accomplishing certain goals.
It was her first ever time as a monarch in the Republic of Ireland.
“Discrimination still exists. Some people feel that their own beliefs are being threatened. Some are unhappy about unfamiliar cultures."
"They all need to be reassured that there is so much to be gained by reaching out to others; that diversity is indeed a strength and not a threat.” Her Majesty made this powerful statement in her 2004 Christmas broadcast to the nation.
The people’s princess
“No one who knew Diana will ever forget her. Millions of others who never met her, but felt they knew her, will remember her. I for one believe there are lessons to be drawn from her life and from the extraordinary and moving reaction to her death.”
The death of Princess Diana was a tragedy that shook Britain to its core. The public demanded an emotional tribute, and the Queen ultimately gave them one after days of grieving with her family.
“Grief is the price we pay for love.” After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Queen gave a speech to honor the memories of those lost.
To further pay tribute, she altered royal protocol and allowed The Star-Spangled Banner to be played during Buckingham Palace’s Changing of the Guard. She has similarly commemorated the attacks in the years since.
“Let us not take ourselves too seriously. No one has a monopoly on wisdom, and we must always be ready to listen and respect other points of view.” In 1991 the Queen used her Christmas broadcast to focus on the changes happening around the world — the break-up of the Soviet Union, for example, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“I simply ache from smiling. Why are women expected to beam all the time? It’s unfair. If a man looks solemn, it’s automatically assumed he’s a serious person, not a miserable one.”
The Queen reportedly gave a surprisingly honest answer when questioned why she rarely smiles. And given the number of people she meets each year, it’s hard not to blame her.
“With so many distractions, it is easy to forget to pause and take stock. Be it through contemplation, prayer, or even keeping a diary, many have found the practice of quiet personal reflection surprisingly rewarding, even discovering greater spiritual depth to their lives.”
In her 2013 Christmas broadcast, the Queen emphasized the importance of self-reflection and taking time out for yourself.
“I am sure that this, my coronation, is not the symbol of a power and a splendor that are gone but a declaration of our hopes for the future, and for the years I may, by God’s grace and mercy, be given to reign and serve you as your queen.”
For her coronation speech, the Queen recognized the historic shift in power that had occurred.
“Of course, family does not necessarily mean blood relatives. The Commonwealth is a family of 53 nations all with a common bond, shared beliefs, mutual values, and goals.
It is this that makes the Commonwealth a family in the truest sense.”When the Queen spoke on the sheer importance of family, she made sure her words applied to all.
Walking in a winter wonderland
Of course, the Queen does spend time with her actual family, too. This photo, taken on December 29, 1985, shows her with her grandson Peter Phillips.
Wrapped up in a brown fur coat, the sovereign also wears a bright smile on her face. The pair were spending time at the royal family’s Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England.
A day out with grandma
Alongside her daughter, Princess Anne, the Queen stands between her grandchildren Peter and Zara Phillips, armed with a pair of binoculars. The quartet are watching that year’s Royal Windsor Horse Show, an annual event that began back in 1943.
And, of course, the Queen is well known for her love of horses. She’s even owned a few!
Grandma’s a winner!
In 2016 one of the Queen’s horses actually won a race at Royal Ascot, and that led to a rather touching moment. Princess Beatrice was the one to present her grandmother with a trophy to celebrate the victory.
And the pair were photographed with beaming smiles on their faces as they looked upon the prestigious prize. Aww!
Back in January 1988, the royal family took a trip to Sandringham Museum. The Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, joined Prince Charles and Princess Diana with four grandchildren in tow.
While looking at an old fire engine, the sovereign stood next to Peter Phillips and a very young Prince Harry. Just ahead of them are Zara Phillips and Prince William, both seemingly fascinated by the vintage vehicle.
A clear view
On May 10, 1991, the monarch was photographed at another Royal Windsor Horse Show. This time, she was with a young Princess Beatrice and surrounded by a crowd of people.
The oldest daughter of Prince Andrew, Beatrice is seen standing next to her grandmother on a metal gate, while the Queen points something out to their left.
A royal night out
In November 2015 Queen Elizabeth shared a warm moment with Prince William at a special event.
They were attending the Festival of Remembrance, which is held every year at the Royal Albert Hall in London and honors those who have died in wartime. Appropriately enough, then, the royals are pictured wearing poppies attached to their outfits.
Kiss from a prince
In this photo from May 2015, Prince Harry tossed aside any embarrassment when he shared a kiss with his grandma. The following year, he also shared some kind words about the Queen in a special documentary titled Our Queen at Ninety.
“She should be incredibly proud of what she’s led and what she’s achieved and what she’s created... Hats off to her; it’s incredible,” Harry said.
Christenings bring big families together, and the royal family gathered in force for Princess Charlotte’s ceremony in July 2015. There are actually four generations of royalty together here, with the Queen looking over her great-granddaughter.
Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, follows suit, gazing upon the young princess as she’s held in the arms of her mother, Kate Middleton.
The Queen put her own parenting skills to the test outside Buckingham Palace in June 2015. Look at how she’s interacting with Prince George!
The little prince was also later captured looking up in the sky while his great-grandma tried to divert his attention with a big smile. A good grandparent is always ready to spring into action, regardless of the location.
Reading with grandma
In this photo from May 1987, the Queen is seen sitting with her granddaughter Zara Phillips at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. The pair are reading together, in fact, with Zara seemingly fully engaged.
And Zara would go on to pursue a career in horse riding, too. She enjoyed her greatest success when she earned a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics.
A royal visit
In February 1991 the Queen paid her grandson Peter a visit at Port Regis, a boarding school in Shaftesbury, England. Clad in his black uniform, Peter can be seen showing some of his work to his grandmother, who watches on with interest.
And it was quite a special occasion. After all, it’s not every day you see a monarch standing in a workshop!
Practice makes perfect
In 1966 the sovereign was snapped with young Edward sitting on her knee, just behind a smiling Charles.
Edward would be the last of her four children, although the Queen would be dealing with plenty more royal babies for many decades to come. To date, she has eight grandchildren — not to mention an impressive 12 great-grandchildren!
Smile for the sovereign
The Queen and Prince Harry appear to have quite a bond, if this 2006 photo at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst is anything to go by. And Harry expressed his admiration in Our Queen at Ninety, when he considered how young the Queen was when she ascended the throne.
“It’s just incredible to know that someone at that age appreciated and understood exactly what was expected of them,” he said.
Spending quality time with the grandkids
William seemingly has enormous admiration for his grandma, too, and he also hailed her influence on him in the Our Queen at Ninety. “Growing up, having this figurehead, having this stability above me has been incredible,” William said in the 2016 special.
“I have been able to explore, understand, slightly carve my own path. I greatly appreciate and value that protection.”
A day of polo
In this June 1987 picture, the monarch is seen watching a game of polo alongside William and Harry, who are looking fully engaged. It’s a game the royals know well.
Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, had been a polo player during his younger years, while Prince Charles also took an interest in the sport as a young man.
And as shown in this 2012 picture, the Queen clearly has no issues with William’s choice of partner. In the years since then, the duke and duchess have started a young family of their own.
The pair are now the proud parents of Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis. They also celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary in 2021.
Given a helping hand
According to Princess Eugenie, the Queen is more comfortable at Balmoral Castle than anywhere else. “It’s the most beautiful place on earth,” she said in Our Queen At Ninety. “I think Granny is the most happy there; I think she really, really loves the Highlands.
Walks, picnics, dogs — a lot of dogs, there’s always dogs! — and people coming in and out all the time.”
A royal tour
In July 2016 the Queen attended the opening of the East Anglian Air Ambulance base in Cambridge, England. And she was met by a very familiar face that day!
William himself was one of the co-pilots at the time, but there may have been another reason why he was entrusted with the tour. “A lot of people get very excited and sort of nervous around [the Queen],” he said in Our Queen at Ninety.
One big family gathering
This special get-together actually marked the Queen and Prince Philip’s 60th wedding anniversary. All four of their children were in attendance as well as six of their grandchildren.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh later celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary, and they were ultimately married for an incredible 73 years until Philip’s passing in 2021.
The first of many
Here, the Queen is pictured in December 1977 standing over Princess Anne and her first grandchild, Peter. The number of grandchildren only grew, of course, after Princes Charles, Andrew, and Edward had kids of their own.
Now, of course, there are great-grandchildren in the mix, too! And who knows? Maybe one day the Queen will have great-great-grandchildren...