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Elizabeth exerts influence by caring

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Without an official role in governing Britain, Queen Elizabeth II nevertheless has influenced world politics in her position as head of the Commonwealth, and some of the member nations also recognize her as their queen.

Elizabeth has taken a generous, familiar approach in dealing with Commonwealth nations, partly because she’s had longtime associations with their heads of state. Many grew up with her as queen.

Elizabeth also surprises national leaders with how much she knows about their countries, from the economy and elections to political scandals and family births and deaths.

Africans’ acceptance of Elizabeth as head of the Commonwealth depended on their perception of the queen as genuinely caring about them.

“She did care and she did convey that caring,” says the Commonwealth’s former secretary-general, Sir Shridath “Sonny” Ramphal. “And I believe that this is the key to her unquestioned success. There was a genuine measure of caring about the Commonwealth, its people, its governments and its influence in the world. [All of that] mattered to her.

“These were not formalities,” says Ramphal. “This was an important side of her life.”

—Adapted from Elizabeth: A Biography of Britain’s Queen, Sarah Bradford, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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