The Queen: our greatest diplomatic asset

Queen Elizabeth’s deft charm enhanced Britain’s soft power for seven decades. Alexandra Penler pays tribute to a much-loved monarch and Chatham House patron.

The World Today
Published 29 September 2022 3 minute READ

Alexandra Penler

PhD candidate, Department of International History, London School of Economics and Political Science

With the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II, Britain lost not only a pillar of stability but its most effective diplomat. Over her long reign, the Queen forged a role for herself in modern diplomacy, using her gender, connections, allure and her unique role as head of the Commonwealth, the United Kingdom and 14 other nations to influence events.

She particularly used public diplomacy to accomplish the UK’s goals, becoming a conduit of soft power and guiding Britain through a new, globalized, post-colonial world. Her death leaves a gap that awaits to be filled by King Charles III and the next generation of royals.

Throughout her reign, the Queen was often the only female present in diplomatic meetings. A photograph of the young Queen Elizabeth as the only woman in a sea of older men at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Economic Conference in 1952 foreshadows a similar scene 53 years later at the G8 summit in Scotland in 2005.

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