Walking through Piccadilly Circus, I stumbled upon a crowd of people. Of course, crowds of people are not particularly interesting in a big city like London. Whom they were crowded around is perhaps the more interesting part of this story. On the tips of my toes, I strained my neck just far enough to catch a glimpse of a little blue hat standing out among a sea of standard black British garb. Royal blue, that is.
Queen Elizabeth had quickly scurried past the press to her awaiting car. Shy? Humble? Smart. It seems that the Queen understands the age-old adage: less is more. The Queen is often ridiculed by fans and royalists hungry to learn about her personal life, wishing it was plastered on the front page of The Sun more often; but, those in the public eye will attest that it is not always wise to feed the press. You give them an inch, they take a foot. The press knows that audiences want to be entertained. The British tabloid press is, therefore, riddled with sensationalist journalism seeking to do just that. The Queen understands this. She knows when to engage with the media and when to stay out of it. For me, this increases her credibility as a serious symbol of the British monarchy.
But where does this come from? In America, public figures are hard-pressed (excuse the pun) to keep off your televisions. Even in the UK, politicians and other familiar characters maintain their fair share of face-time on the evening news. Perhaps, the Queen’s limited engagement with the media has to do with her long reign. Reaching the Diamond Jubilee, which celebrates the Queen’s sixty years on the throne, HRM has lived through the evolution of UK journalism. From sensational to impartial to economically constrained, sixty years has brought about many faces of the British press, incentivizing the mysterious Monarchy to remain so. Public figures can learn from this private attitude. It saves audiences from living in a perpetual game of ‘telephone’, where no one knows what is exaggeration, speculation, or pure fabrication.
If public figures were more discerning about what they tempt the press with, the UK might not be undergoing the huge overhaul of British press standards right now—namely, the Leveson Inquiry. Regardless, no one reason can be blamed for the cause of depreciating press standards in the UK and abroad. Public figures will always have to maintain their images in one way or another. Sometimes, though, experience is the best combatant. Sixty years on the throne later, Queen Elizabeth proves that diamonds really are a girl’s best friend. Lucky Lizzy.