Queen Elizabeth. Lessons from a life well lived.

Queen Elizabeth. Lessons from a life well lived.

One of the striking features of the national grief is how personally affiliated people felt towards the late Queen. A frequent comment from mourners in The Queue and similar vox pops was “it was like losing my granny”.

Queen Elizabeth certainly had life well lived, and died peacefully aged 96 surrounded by her family, at home and having kept maintained good health until the last year of her life, and her mental sharpness to the very end. Barring immortality, that seems an end that many of us would envy. So what lessons can we take from her life, in order to match it? Choose you parents carefully. Being born to a wealthy strata of society extends your life considerably, and even more importantly that extra life is likely to be healthier than others the same age. 

1) On top even this, Queen Elizabeth gained further life expectancy from excellent genes, with her own mother reaching nearly 102 years of age.

2) Get married and have children. While being married extends male lives, it shortens female ones. Fortunately this is more than offset by having children, so the lost year from being married is outweighed by the three gained from having children. There is unsurprising  evidence too that happy marriages are more beneficial to mental and physical health than unhappy ones. Having found her soulmate early in life, Elizabeth was astute enough to marry Philip, despite a certain amount of discouragement from some courtiers, and he too enjoyed excellent health for nearly a century.

3) Maintain good family relationships. 

Despite a number of conflicts between various members of her family, Elizabeth seems to have managed to maintain good relationships with all parties, even her wayward son and a prodigal grandson. Forgiveness Is a virtue, though sometimes requires to hold one’s tongue, perhaps something that Meghan could usefully copy.

4) Find Religion.

Queen Elizabeth was a devout Christian, and clearly that was an important part of her life. Active religious participation adds perhaps another four years of life.

5) Eat well and exercise regularly.

Queen Elizabeth has never looked overweight, those marmalade sandwiches must be only eaten in emergencies. She always has enjoyed moderate exercise, only giving up her horse riding in her mid nineties, and that was only one of several regular forms of exercise. Being normal weight and moderately physically active adds seven years.

6) Keep working, if you enjoy your work and it isn’t too physically demanding: It is hard to untangle cause and effect with this one, as Ill health may force retirement, but there does seem to be a correlation between continuing enjoyable work and not just long life but also staving off chronic disease. I don’t think that even the most republican amongst us could deny Elizabeth’s commitment and enthusiasm for her vocation over the decades.

Health is a lottery and the fickle finger of fate can be a great equaliser when it comes to illness. Nonetheless there are some useful ways to shift the odds in one’s own favour, that should be noted by this internet community of gamblers.

The life of Queen Elizabeth is a tough act to follow, and any new monarch will bring their own style to the role. I wish King Charles a long and happy reign, and hope that by following these 6 rules (perhaps some work needed on the third) it is a long time until the next succession.


Foxy is a doctor and longstanding PBer

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