She was the safest pair of hands to have on the wheel, forever in the driver’s seat as a feminist icon who quietly disregarded established conventions around what women should be and do…reports Asian Lite News
The Queen was the one to suggest to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah that they take a spin around the Balmoral grounds when he visited the Scottish estate in 1998.
The prince was up for it. As instructed, he claimed the front passenger seat of the royal Land Rover. Then the monarch climbed up beside him and took off.
In her history-busting reign, the Queen never needed to be told what to do or to watch out for on the road ahead.
She was the safest pair of hands to have on the wheel, forever in the driver’s seat as a feminist icon who quietly disregarded established conventions around what women should be and do.
A devotee of the significant detail, from the choice of brooch to the choice of words (“recollections may vary”), she knew the political and social message she was sending to the Saudi royal: buckle up, sunshine! Anything you can do, I can do better. We can do better!
These days, I get so much joy from that story of her style, but the idea of Queen Elizabeth II as the ultimate feminist was a slow burn. At primary school in the 1970s, we kick-started assemblies with the then-national anthem, God Save The Queen, but that was the only impact she had on me.
At the time, she was younger than I am now but seemed old. And old-fashioned: the stern iron curls, sensible pumps, air hostess hats. Glimpsed in my mum’s Women’s Weekly magazines, Princess Margaret’s royal life – kaftans, cigarette holders, nightclubs – seemed the one to have.
Then I grew up, found a career, had children, and ran a household. It was a steep learning curve. I looked for inspiration from other women about how to not just do the whole work-life thing but treasure it. And slowly, the Queen became an unlikely, enduring inspiration.
In 1958, she ended the “coming out” debutantes’ presentation that acted as an upper-class marriage market and got stuck in as a working mum whose work-from-home situation blurred lines from the get-go.
Of course, she had staff aplenty and was by all accounts a hands-off mother – perhaps because her focus was on her wider family. While most parents are shattered at end of the day, the Queen was having to sail off to state dinners.
Addressing the centenary of the Women’s Institute in 2015, she gave a rare insight into her take on the “modern” world: “The opportunities for women to give something of value to society are greater than ever because through their own efforts, they now play a much greater part.”