Ok – it’s not her actual birthday. That was back in April, when our wonderful Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, turned the grand old age of 92. But this month saw her second birthday of the year (because if you can have two, why not?) and her family – including newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – gathered, as usual, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, to celebrate.
We sort of get used to the Queen’s impressive age, but when you stop to think about it, being not only bright and spritely into your 90s, but actually still working and running and entire Commonwealth is a pretty mind-boggling state of affairs.
Year after year, event after event, Her Majesty is there, looking elegant, colourful and full of energy, with no sign of ever slowing down. Her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, has begun to show some of the typical signs of ageing and has recently returned from a hospital stint following a hip replacement operation. But what is it about his wife, Elizabeth, that makes her go from strength to strength with each passing year? And how can we get a bit of it?
The Queen is actually a great example to us all. She spends a lot of her free time keeping active – whether it’s going for a walk around the grounds of Balmoral or jumping on a horse (something she regularly does). Her children and grandchildren have been brought up with exactly the same commitment to outdoors time and physical activity – and we could do well to take a leaf out of all of their books. It’s never too late to learn to ride a horse and if that’s a leap too far, then a simple stroll around the block each evening is something none of us can really find an excuse to avoid.
Prince Charles is committed to organic farming and good-quality produce is something of a passion for the royal family. Of course, the Queen is incredibly well fed, and although she doesn’t have to go to the effort of cooking her own meals, her menu can serve as health-inspiration for all of us.
Breakfast is typically kippers (some oily fish and lean protein to start the day – we’re sure Her Majesty tells her great grand children that fish feeds the brain, like all our grandmothers did!). Lunch tends to be cold meat and salads, and afternoon tea (who doesn’t dream of daily afternoon tea?) is not used as an excuse for a sugar hit.
The Queen might snack on a sandwich or two but the cakes and scones are rarely touched. For dinner, when at formal events, she sticks to protein and vegetables. Such a healthy, unprocessed diet full of fibre, veg and protein, is perfect.
The Queen is always meeting new people – whether she’s welcoming heads of state into her home in London or travelling across the globe to meet politicians and dignitaries, there are always names to be learned, languages to understand and new cultures to discover.
Continued mental challenge is known to stave off degenerative disease, so if the Prime Minister of some far flung nation isn’t knocking on your door for tea, crosswords, puzzles and language challenges are a good alternative.
The Queen and her husband have been married since 1947 – since she was just 21 years old, and having a stable home unit like that is thought to be linked to longevity. If you’ve got another half, and have had him or her for some time, then lucky you – it could stand you in good stead in later life. If not, don’t panic. Having a pet can be just as beneficial (and of course the Queen’s corgis mean she’s doubly protected!).
Genetic factors account for a fair amount of variation in longevity once you start looking at exceptional old age, and the Queen’s mother lived until the ripe old age of 101 – which is incredibly rare for someone born in 1900 when diseases like TB were still rife. Queen Victoria (our Queen’s great, great grandmother) managed an impressive 81.