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Leadership and morality

The Queen is the world's longest-serving monarch and remains a standard bearer for women (File photograph by Alastair Grant/AP)

I was thinking recently of the transition that will invariably happen in Britain with the Queen and the heir to the Crown, the Prince of Wales, who will become King. Charles himself, who can no longer claim the status of being a young man, will be stepping into a role for which he is very prepared. However, he as a divorced man with a wife of similar status, will not assume the post with the same innocence as his mother once did.

Love is blind, they say, and it appears at times ruthlessly blind. The drama of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall ― the former Camilla Parker Bowles ― is a saga that has drenched the news and saturated the minds of many around the world and within Britain, and will be a legacy that will stick to Charles into his transition as King, decorating his rule just as much as his crown and royal garments.

No one will ever forget that it was Charles as a dashing young prince who captured the heart of a comparative commoner, who would go on to become much loved and cherished by the British people. Royalty is like religion and comes with expected roles that the heart does not recognise.

Having once had the privilege of being at a gala banquet where the Prince was the keynote speaker, I had the opportunity to listen to his manner of speech. Some may consider his drawl and somewhat stoic manner of presentation as “bumbling on” and lacking charisma. However, in my opinion, he is a profound intellectual and even spiritual as an adaptation to the nature of life and committed environmentalist who came upon that field of passion long before it became fashionable.

In some ways, everything he says and all his activism is couched in thoughts of the future of the world and its shape as our youth will inherit it.

Although I live with democratic and republican ideals, I give credit to the tremendous leadership the Queen has consistently given the world. As a young lady thrust into a role for which she had no expectation ― her uncle abdicated the throne and her father died as a serving monarch ― she accepted the title as a young mother and dedicated her life to the rigorous and demanding role of Queen of the British Empire.

No one will ever be perfect and neither would she, but with such a long reign of more than 70 years, she has maintained a reputation that is highly respected worldwide. Yes, there were times when her policy and matters of the British Government came into question, such as the days of British support for South Africa during its days of apartheid. Yet even that, while truly a matter of tacit support, which they eventually abolished in favour of sanctions, never was her morality or manner in which she held her office as Queen challenged.

She stands tall as a role model for leaders, setting the example for women in every field. Even men, state and political leaders can draw examples from her character and commitment to her office as Queen.

There is an unwritten expectation that leadership holds a standard of behaviour that provides modelling for subordinates. This has certainly held true for religious leaders, but it is true also for political, civic and even business leaders. The tragedy of the Bill Cosby affair and his subsequent imprisonment is that he was for many a tremendous role model. His television sitcom, The Cosby Show, was an accurate depiction of the average middle-class Black American family that addressed many issues. As a comedian on stage, he would have his audience in stitches of laughter without the use of profanity. His deviation from moral judgment caused a huge disappointment for many.

The Cosby matter underscores the need for any persons who have had a measure of success to understand their accountability to others.

Barack Obama managed his life and presidency, where like the Queen you can criticise some of his decisions taken politically, but not the dignified manner in which he occupied the Oval Office. While he was the first Black to be elected President of the United States, no one can say it was a Black presidency because he behaved as a human being in an office meant for a human ― not a Black or White, male or female, but rather a human with a display of intelligence as his agency.

This goes for Bermuda, too; if we have the leadership, it needs to be a model. It doesn’t matter in what sphere, the role of leader carries a responsibility to rise above narrow personal entitlement, to consider their place as a role model for others because, knowingly or unknowingly, that is what they are and how they will be judged.

The higher one rises among their peers in society, the greater the visibility and criticism. Curtis Richardson resigned from the Upper House and it was the appropriate thing to do because his behaviour was less than stellar and reflected poorly on the Premier, who seemed to act very late in the drama.

We are just a part of the real world and the rules that apply to other societies equally apply to us. As the saying goes, “What's good for the goose is good for the gander.”

We saw the contrast in leaders when Donald Trump took office in the US. We turned our backs to morality and then human disorder followed; we can't afford the same.

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Published January 27, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated January 26, 2022 at 5:33 pm)

Leadership and morality

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