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The Queen

“Really, there’s only one global monarch”

The Queen in Windsor in 2016. Samir Hussein/WireImage

There are “about 27” royal families around the world, says Serge Schmemann in The New York Times. But I bet you don’t know many of them. “Few people are even aware that Norway has a king (Harald V) or can name the ruler of Thailand (Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun).” Really, there’s only one global monarch: Elizabeth II. Why is she so good at her job? First, she’s a hard worker. As banknotes change to reflect her age, the Queen trundles along, performing her royal duties. At 95, she’s the longest-living, longest-reigning British monarch. If she’s still on the throne on May 27, 2024, she will beat Louis XIV of France as the longest-reigning European monarch ever. He got the job when he was four.

She can be funny, too. In 2003 she insisted on driving Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia around Balmoral, because women weren’t allowed to drive in his country. He asked her to slow down. But mostly she keeps quiet. The Queen has never given an interview to a reporter. The most revealing thing she has said was calling 1992 – a year when three royal marriages fell apart and fire gutted 100 rooms in Windsor Castle – her “annus horribilis”. “And that was in Latin.” But although we know so little about her, “the image of the sturdy, politely smiling little queen in pastel-colored coats and matching hats, at times accompanied by an equally sturdy little Welsh corgi, has become a reassuring constant over the decades. There are not many.”