Queen Elizabeth II’s passing is significant for many reasons — not least of all, her impressive longevity. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, 90% of the world’s population has only ever known her as Britain’s monarch.
While her mum lived to 101, genetics alone doesn’t explain Elizabeth II’s 96-year run. In fact, The Blue Zones author Dan Buettner says genes only dictate 20% of the average person’s life span.
So, what did the Queen do to earn such remarkable longevity? (Hint: It wasn’t just about being the only person who can put on a tiara with one hand while walking down stairs — although that is admirable.)
The Royal Treatment
Privilege and access to excellent healthcare aside (the lack of which are leading causes of America’s plunging life expectancy), the Queen was careful about her consumption. While if I were Queen, I’d partake in orgiastic feasts a la Game of Thrones, Elizabeth II ate to live vs. lived to eat. A typical day included fresh vegetables and fruit (especially home-grown strawberries and peaches), grilled or poached fish or meat, tea, and no starch (potato, rice, pasta).
Elizabeth II also lived a temperate life. Famously anti-smoking, her only indulgences were sweets (especially chocolate) and alcohol (wine and gin cocktails) in moderation. And while she wasn’t a fitness hound, she took her beloved corgis on long daily walks and rode horses as much as possible. Plus, she reportedly got a consistent 8 ½ hours of sleep a night.
If you’re a Blue Zones fan, you’ll recognize life-extending things like moving naturally, eating until you’re 80% full, and enjoying a glass of wine as part of Elizabeth II’s regimen. But it wasn’t just the physical factors that kept her vital; the monarch’s mindset made the difference.
As we often discuss at Further, making meaning of your role in others’ lives is critical to your longevity, and the Queen was an excellent example.
… Her level of effort, a penchant for routine, and a strong sense of purpose, along with setting aside time for play, are thought to have served her well-being well.
When then-Princess Elizabeth was 21 — shortly after she served in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II — she made a promise to her people:
I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.
This was her life’s purpose, which kept her evolving, relevant, and popular. It was also how she managed to keep up a 40-hour work week into her 90s. So don’t mourn the Queen; instead, celebrate her life by becoming royally focused on your personal mission.