Queen at 90: 3 things we can learn from Queen Elizabeth about ageing gracefully

The Queen becomes Britain's longest-serving monarch today.Reuters

The Queen turns 90 on Thursday and despite reaching this landmark age, she still leads a life more active than most, and that goes for those less than half her age too.

As a monarch and Supreme Governor of the Church of England for more than 63 years, there's much that we can learn from Queen Elizabeth II about leadership, from how to encourage people in difficult times to the importance of exercising restraint. But as a Christian whose faith has been a great source of comfort and inspiration throughout her life, what can we learn from the Queen about ageing gracefully and faithfully?

There's no expiration date on duty
Despite calls for her to abdicate because of her considerable age, Queen Elizabeth has never shown any desire to relinquish her duties as monarch. Much of her motivation for this comes from her belief that her role is God-given - for life. Her public appearances and overseas visits may have reduced over the years but she still shows a determination not to let her age get in the way of her responsibilities. It's not unusual for people to respond to the prospect of a new opportunity with "I'm too old for that". But what the Queen's example demonstrates is that although we may have to adapt our lifestyles as we age, there's no age limit on serving.

The Queen seen here in 2001Reuters

An ageing appearance is to be embraced
The changes in physical appearance that are brought on by ageing are viewed by many people as undesirable. Instead of embracing the natural ageing process, millions of people take drastic steps to slow, reduce or reverse the visible signs of ageing each year. The world's press analyses the beauty and style of female figures to the same extent it does Hollywood A-listers and catwalk models.  But Queen Elizabeth seems to be completely unbothered by the world's standards.  She stopped dyeing her hair 20 years ago, embracing her grey curls ever since, and seems perfectly at home in her low heels, below the knee dresses, and signature black handbag. As someone whose faith has been a central part of her life and has influenced the choices she's made throughout her reign, it wouldn't be a shock to discover that her decision was inspired by her faith and specifically Proverbs 16:31 "Grey hair is a crown of splendour; it is attained in the way of righteousness".

You can still be modest no matter how much you have or how much you've done
It might seem impossible for someone with such tremendous wealth and influence to exercise modesty but the Queen's refusal to approve formal celebrations to mark the milestone of becoming the longest-reigning monarch  last year is one example of when she has done just that. The longer we live and the more we've accumulated or achieved, the more we can become preoccupied with being acknowledged for our achievements and believe our own hype. But the Queen's attitude suggests she doesn't feel the need for her life's work to be the subject of elaborate public celebration and that rather, she did her duty, no more no less.  

Taking care of the generation following after us

As we grow old, there's another generation following right behind us.  Our legacy, the world we create, will be what they inherit.  The Queen demonstrated her commitment to those younger than herself when she said: "The true measure of all our actions is how long the good in them lasts...everything we do, we do for the young."