As most leadership and military academies will teach, there are many sources and kinds of power. Some sources are legitimate, some just perceived; sometimes it is used productively in motivating a team to reach goals, getting important things done, and effecting transformational change. Other times people do not wear power well and either abuse it or give it away. While I understand how power corrupts, I personally become frustrated watching someone give their power away, essentially falling victim to the world, succumbing to a life of martyrdom and blaming others for their misery. For me, Elizabeth’s Scepter is a symbol of power that is worn proudly and used with gracious benevolence, and no one did that better than Elizabeth.
Don’t get me wrong: Elizabeth was a hilarious comedy act when she wanted to be, and no one laughed louder at herself than she. But also know that her adventures were choreographed as she went, and her antics not as spontaneous as they appeared. As her daughter, she was all-powerful to me, the clear force to be reckoned with. Stepfathers would come and go, but I dared not cross this woman.
When I was a little girl, I asked my (favorite) stepfather when I could start making my own decisions. He replied easily, “when you stop asking that question.” I did not understand at the time that asking permission was giving my power away. Later in life, one of my old bosses used to share his version of the Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. As I was in my early 20s, I thought this crass and pompous, perhaps because he was the boss, he had the gold, and he made the rules. This was his way of saying no, and often to my requests. Eventually I learned to stop asking for things and either take what I wanted, or when that was not professionally or legally feasible, make a sound case for them. I found that we create our own personal power by how credible and confident we are in our own skins. At one point I shared this revelation with my mother and she practically snorted. She said, “Honey, you’ve always had the power. Use it.”
Elizabeth did have dramatic personal power and it was entertaining to watch her use it. She did not apologize for much, and even then it was with a tinge of pity for the scorned. Never would she allow herself to be upstaged and she would purposely orchestrate the situation to her advantage. Everything was on her own terms and she would often declare, “If I can’t be the queen, there will be no showing.”