Queen Elizabeth was one of the most popular people in many countries, while also being significantly less controversial than any politicians or celebrities of the same scale.

What actions did Queen Elizabeth take that made her so popular? As monarch she had almost zero decision power and never spoke on politically sensitive matters, so "good policy making" cannot be the answer.

An ideal answer would include references to surveys asking British citizens why they liked (or disliked) Queen Elizabeth.

  • 12
    You might get different answers depending on whether you're referring to domestic popularity or international popularity - both of which she enjoys. Domestically, she has been a symbol of continuity and stability for the UK, which has gone through pretty temultuous times since WWII. Internationally, I think she is seen as a rarity for being so close to power yet never abuses it, which to some embodies a certain virtuous ideal they never quite have in their democracies. Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 5:33
  • 21
    @JonathanReez It's not about doing nothing. It's the fact that she did nothing outside her remit, while doing everything she could within it. She worked tirelessly for 70 years to fulfil her duties, even up to two days before her death. Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 7:54
  • 18
    @JonathanReez It's a bit crude when you put it that way, but essentially yes. The role of the ceremonial monarch is to do nothing, to never express political opinion, to be a living statue for people to rally around. That's not to say it's easy. It takes extraordinary restraint and fortitude to do it for your entire life. The Queen's utter lack of controversey is testiment to how little mistake she made when the margin for error is so small all the time. Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 9:28
  • 7
    A lot of money spent on public relations and image consultants? Her public presentation fell to a low point in 1997 after the death of Diana - but consultants were brought in and turned the situation around by focusing heavily on the development of William and Harry and the way they were presented to the public.
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 12:00
  • 4
    A job of the queen or king is to be. And to be a queen/king of everyone, not just of one side. And to bring stability. She did. Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 13:19

6 Answers 6

  1. She actively engaged in what is universally considered as good (charity).

  2. She avoided controversial things. You say “as monarch she had almost zero decision power and never spoke on politically sensitive matters”, and that's an answer. If you are into politics, someone certainly won't like you, because politics is a game of conflicts. If you side with one side, another one won't like you.

  • 1
    For #1 - was she known for personal decision making that affected how well the charities operated? King Charles is known for driving the construction of Poundbury - did Queen Elizabeth have any similar personal involvement in a charitable project? Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 19:17
  • 2
    @JonathanReez for the reputatuion, it is much more important to appear in news associated with something good, then actually doing something
    – kandi
    Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 19:23
  • 10
    "good policy making" is a matter of opinion (what one person thinks is "good policy," another thinks is "bad policy"). No policy making, along with no power to make policies, means nobody thinks you're doing a bad job.
    – Esther
    Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 20:46
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    he job was basically to smile and wave and be polite to people and she did that well
    – mgh42
    Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 5:13
  • 1
    @JonathanReez She actively supported charities which operated well. She spent a lot of her time staying on top of monitoring the people running the country, remember - that was her job. She didn't have the free time to personally run a charity, unlike Charles.
    – Graham
    Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 11:24

I gave @kandi a thumbs up. But here comes a personal annecdote anyway.

In 2010 the G20 conference came to Toronto. At the time I was working in an office downtown. For about 2 months the city core was an armed camp. There were several km of k-rail with chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. To get into the conference area you needed to show ID that demonstrated you worked or lived there. There were several hundred additional police borrowed from surrounding regions to bolster the usual Toronto forces. To get to my office I had to walk several hundred meters out of my way to go around the barriers. And there were constantly cops giving me the "stink eye." (I did wear my hair extremely long at the time. A pony-tail to my waist.) During the actual meetings there were huge protests that occasionally became violent. Windows were smashed. Police cars were burned. Many people were roughed up. The police went somewhat berserk with mass arrests resulting, eventually, in a huge settlement payout.

Some time (about 1 year, I don't recall exactly) after that, Her Majesty visited Toronto. I happened to step out of my office heading for lunch just as her motorcade was leaving on the way back to the airport. The entire disruption of my life consisted of less than the time for a traffic light to change once. And I could have avoided that by walking south instead of waiting for the light. But I wanted to stand with the single RCMP officer on the corner. I wanted to see her car and wave to her. Sadly, tinted windows on all the cars meant I could not tell which car was hers.

So a visit from some politicians produced $millions in damages, $millions in lawsuits, and a two month disruption of much of the downtown core. A visit from HM produced no disruption at all, in fact being a pleasant memory.

That's an example of why she was popular with me.

  • 31
    I think this answer mixes up causality. Many politicians have a lot of people who hate them and who threaten their lives, so there is always a huge security theater when they go somewhere. Elizabeth II had a lot less people who threatened her, so she got less of a security theater. Now the question is: Why do so many people want to murder G20 leaders, but so few people wanted to murder Elizabeth II?
    – Philipp
    Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 8:01
  • 8
    @Philipp the question to ask, is why do they repeatedly do their G… conferences in the middle of urban areas when all they want, is to be as isolated and guarded as possible? They do not want to interact with the people (in contrast to that other visitor), they want the people to be as far away as possible, so yeah, let’s go into the biggest city we can find, each time, always with the same “surprising” outcome.
    – Holger
    Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 12:46
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    @Holger Because there are no conference facilities, accommodations, food catering in the middle of nowhere. Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 13:20
  • 13
    @stackoverblown except that, e.g. every country’s army has multiple facilities to host thousands of people “in the middle of nowhere”. They are even prepared for security measures. But if you want more comfort, google for something like “countryside conference center” (ten million hits) or “rural conference center” (150 million hits), because, that’s an actual business. You surely don’t need to be in the inner city for a conference. And for the costs of securing and rebuilding an inner city like those conferences do, you could build a new facility in the middle of nowhere.
    – Holger
    Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 13:47
  • 9
    This is the most nonsensical answer I have ever encountered on this site. The question wasn't about whether you, as an individual, liked Elizabeth, nor about the completely arbitrary reasons you did. Yet here this "answer" sits with 15 upvotes... I should start posting personal, unverifiable anecdotes to answers here.
    – Ian Kemp
    Commented Sep 10, 2022 at 23:14

Her popularity has waxed and waned over time, at one time the tabloid media and the general opinion was so dismayed with her that she finally burst forth some public character for the first time in 65 years and said that the Year of criticism was an "annus horribilis"...

She was probably charming in private. In fact that latin declaration was the most memorable public quote of the queen in living memory. Publicly all she did else was to say hello and wave and utter very sleep inducing, monotonous christmas TV speeches(watch them).

Worldwide various countries that have lost national riches and many trillions of pounds to UK serfdom have often harbored negativity towards her. India, Jamaica, China, who are still destroyed nations view her with amusement more than admiration.

Ultimately her legacy is just one of great stature, local eccentricity and fair disposition.

  • 5
    "India, Jamaica, China, who are still destroyed nations" what?
    – qwr
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 0:45
  • 1
    For what it's worth, the Indian government announced a national day of mourning for her death, so "officially" they express admiration.
    – qwr
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 1:01
  • 1
    @qwr sorry destroyed is OTT wording... Indial lost 50 trillion of cotton and tea and would be far more advanced if colonialism was less brutal. China was fined 1 silver coin per head for the opium war and sufferred 100yrs of civil war and is a draconian police state with uncertain future. Jamaica has some troubles, ghettos, high crime and so forth. The damage is like, 500,000,000 Indians are on less than $2 per day and thats a legacy of 100 yrs of colonialism? The Nation is very powerful, and also struggling. Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 19:02
  • Your arguments are not compelling without more historical evidence. Colonialism by UK was not a good thing, but not without some upsides. What position would India be in today without UK colonialism? Would they be the world's largest democracy, giant industry, and have their English style education system? It's really difficult to say. Also your claims of how people of those countries view the Queen is not currently supported by evidence.
    – qwr
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 19:28
  • 1
    The question is not about the king/queen of Britain etc. as a role but about Elizabeth II in particular. She was certainly not responsible for initiating the colonisation and/or exploitation of the various countries you mention, her role in continuing it was minimal, and you could argue that from her coronation onward she used what little power she had towards promoting the Commonwealth over the empire, which by that time was rapidly fading anyway.
    – cjs
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 3:55
  1. Almost a textbook example of a good monarch
  • Served in World War II
  • Her descendants also fed the news in a rather visible contrast
  • Never micromanaged anything
  • The kingdom went acceptably well under her reign
  • Ruled long enough so people got used to her
  1. Almost a textbook example of a good person
  • Strong family
  • Balanced approach to everything (at least what is known from public sources)
  • Lived long enough. Old people are presumed good.
  • Did her duties until it became impossible
  • Did not do extravagant and stupid things the rich people usually do.
  • 5
    Your list seems to gloss over a century's worth of colonialism and some absolutely awful excesses in what we nowadays call 'developing countries', and being the reason said countries are still developing rather than developed. Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 11:00
  • 11
    "being the reason said countries are still developing rather than developed" - citation, please?
    – fraxinus
    Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 11:40
  • 9
    You and I have very different definitions of "extravagant" if you don't consider the British royal family extravagant. Commented Sep 9, 2022 at 11:43
  • 2
    "Served in World War II" That's generous. The war was basically already over by the time she was old enough to enlist, and all she wound up doing is driving some cars around the British countryside for the British army anyway.
    – nick012000
    Commented Sep 10, 2022 at 22:17
  • 3
    @Shadur I gotta say I used to be of that opinion too, but it made me wonder why Ethiopia (never colonized) and Thailand (never colonized) aren’t significantly better off than their neighbors? I’ve spent a month or more in both those countries, and in the case of Thailand also years in their neighboring countries, and I really can’t say the non-colonized ones are much better off nowadays. Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 7:17

Media fiction. Notwithstanding the massive cult of personality that surrounded the entire family for decades most people simply did not care.

  • 3
    What's your source of this? If people "do not care", then why would she be so popular domestically and abroad?
    – qwr
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 0:48
  • @qwr What I meant in my answer is that if all the journalists write that a person is popular it does not mean that she is really popular. A sign of that is that I have no links. The fact that an information is reported in the same manner everywhere and there are no alternative views shows that such information is strictly controlled. In a world with so many heads thinking in so many different way uniformity of opinion can only be explained with censorship.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 11:14
  • Your lack of references is the proof of your answer? Even the surveys cited in the Wikipedia article on the matter would be enough to establish that Queen Elizabeth was in fact quite popular in her home country. Given that Queen Elizabeth was indeed popular, you would not easily be able to find "alternative views" to this reality, because those would just be Trump-style "alternative facts."
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 9:19
  • @Obie2.0 No, lack of evidence is not the proof. Uniformity of opinion is the proof and uniformity of opinion in a case like this is a strong proof. As for Trump ignore him, he is part of the propaganda machine his role is to provide the conspiracy style alternative. It is the classic trick of trapping people between two falsehoods.
    – FluidCode
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 9:59
  • Yes, people have a uniform opinion about reality. You won't find many people claiming that Queen Elizabeth was unpopular in the UK because she was not. You will not find many people claiming that 2+2=5, either.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 10:09

There was a comment on the BBC just now, that somehow seemed to me, to get to the heart of this answer.

The Queen, they commented, had "transcended the institution" of the monarchy, and her role of the monarch.

Somehow for me, that captures it. That she transcended.

  • 8
    How did she transcend the institution, and why would that make her popular? I feel like this is too vague to be a meaningful answer.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 15:50
  • I think this answers the question, that is, "slavering media attention and reinforcement of the status quo from the media"?
    – David M
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 1:17

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