As Groucho Marx once said, “Anyone can get old — all you have to do is to live long enough."
Aging well is another matter entirely, and that is a trick Queen Elizabeth II has mastered. At age 94, she is the longest-reigning monarch in British history, a fact that can't be attributed entirely to either genetics or privilege. Imperial decadence ruined the body mass and mobility of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, turning her into “a big round ball on wobbly legs,” according to contemporaries. The enormous strain of the monarchy contributed to the death of Elizabeth's father, George VI — pressures that continue to test each new member of the Windsor “firm” today.
All of which makes Elizabeth II's ability to run the monarchy since 1952 a royal anomaly. World famous since birth, she has worked harder than any of her predecessors — more than 40 hours a week in her 90th year — without the slightest reliable report of her collapsing under the stress, shirking her endless duties or losing her temper. I spent more than a year investigating the mystery of her resilience for my new book, Long Live the Queen; here are just a few of the secrets I discovered.
1. Recharge your willpower
Elizabeth II's self-control appears limitless because she takes time to replenish it — grasping, as research shows, that willpower is akin to a battery that requires routine recharging. Teatime is that crucial interval for the queen: a sacred break in her hectic day when she rests for a quiet hour with a fragrant pot of Earl Grey or Darjeeling, and something sugary.
2. Stick to a schedule
From her first day as queen, Elizabeth has calmed her mind by following a strict daily regimen, ending each day by writing in her journal.
3. Develop your sense of purpose
The queen lives for something larger than herself — her country. Studies show having a dedicated cause helps immunity and reduces one's risk of Alzheimer's.
4. Serve others
The patron of hundreds of charities, Elizabeth II believes that giving herself to good causes can do “as much as anything … to help me put my own worries into perspective.” Her reward: an infusion of an anti-inflammatory hormone.