What Your Brand Can Learn From Queen Elizabeth II’s Historic Reign

Elizabeth II has officially become the U.K.’s longest-reigning monarch. Here’s how she’s managed one of the world’s most high-profile brands.

What Your Brand Can Learn From Queen Elizabeth II’s Historic Reign
[Photo: Fox Photos, Hulton Archive, Getty Images]

On September 9, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest-reigning monarch in Britain’s history, surpassing her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria’s record that’s been held for more than a century. Elizabeth II ascended the throne in 1952 at the young age of 25 and has since been leading what is, essentially, one of Britain’s most valuable brands now for more than six decades. Although the Queen’s longevity at the head of the family business is mainly the result of her just staying alive all these years, she has managed to steer her country through postwar depression, oversee the formation of the Commonwealth of Nations, act as a patron to over 600 charities and organizations, and watch a staggering amount of U.S. presidents come and go–just to highlight a few lines on her resume.


The British monarchy is often seen more as the royal firm than family, and the latest figures from brand valuation agency Brand Finance underscore the crown’s vast worth and economic influence: Since Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the monarchy’s value has risen from $67 billion to $87 billion and is estimated to make a net contribution of $1.76 billion this year to the U.K.’s economy.

There’s obviously much to glean from the royal family’s business acumen so here are three valuable lessons you can apply to your brand.

Frugality Is Fundamental

Forget the opulent jewels and stately Buckingham Palace because Elizabeth II is known for being incredibly thrifty. For her wedding to Prince Philip in 1947, the queen paid for her dress using ration coupons. It’s also been noted that the royal family does not, in fact, eat like kings and queens. In an interview with Carolyn Robb, executive chef at Kensington Palace from 1989 to 2000, she revealed the royal family regularly opted for non-fussy, homegrown food and even stored leftovers in Tupperware containers. It may seem like Extreme Couponing: The Royal Family Edition, but the queen has managed to buck the preconceived notion that royals are out-of-touch and overindulged, which may contribute to the fact that she’s been voted Britain’s greatest monarch in a recent poll.

Spread Your Brand High and Low

It’s time to get on the queen’s frequent-flier level: Over the course of her reign, Elizabeth II has visited 116 countries on 265 official visits, making her the most traveled monarch in history. Mapping company Esri created an interactive graphic that details the queen’s historic itinerary in order to “understand the significance of the work that she does in representing the U.K. in strengthening relations internationally,” says Stuart Bonthrone, managing director of Esri U.K. Elizabeth II has also incorporated a now popular tradition in her repertoire: “The Royal Walkabout,” which she introduced in 1970 during a trip to Australia and New Zealand to meet as many people as possible beyond officials and dignitaries. It also helps if you can get Helen Mirren to play you on stage and screen.

Closely Manage New “Brands”

Ever since Kate Middleton and Prince William coupled up, the rumor mill has been maxed out with whispers of mounting tensions between the Middletons and the royal family–most notably between Kate and the queen herself. According to those shadowy entities known only as “close sources” in these types of situations, the Duchess of Cambridge’s fashion choices have been particularly niggling to the queen, e.g., Kate’s shoe-wear (“The Queen isn’t a fan of wedged shoes”) and her hairstyle (“Camilla has tried to help and advised her to go shorter and lighter[…] She has looked bedraggled recently and it’s not a good image”) The queen has even reportedly been riding Kate about her work ethic, allegedly commanding the duchess to immediately get back to work after her bout with hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness, during her second pregnancy. It may sound harsh of the queen, but after spending 60 years building a brand, who wouldn’t lend a firm hand in shaping your possible successor?


About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America" where he was the social media producer.