On my vacation last month, my mom and I went to see a movie of a live production of The Audience. This is a hot new play which ran from March 5 until June 15, 2013 in London’s West End, and starred Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth. They filmed one of the productions, and broadcasts of this have gone out to almost 700 venues in 25 countries.
“The Audience” refers to the weekly audience the Queen has with the current Prime Minister (PM). This is a practice started by Queen Victoria in the 19th century, and the current Queen has been doing it for the 60 years of her reign. Over that time, she has met with 12 prime ministers, from Winston Churchill to David Cameron. It is a fabulous production and I enjoyed it very much.
The real audiences between the Queen and the PM – are kept completely confidential by the Queen and the PM. Since the conversations in the play were imagined by the playwright, based on what was going on at the time, we don’t know how close to the truth he got. But the production felt very authentic.
In the play, the Queen shows extensive knowledge of the political goings-on and there are a lot of interesting exchanges between her and the various PMs. At one point I had a quiet, yet powerful thought:
The Queen is very much like a business or executive coach to the Prime Minister!
Every week, the PM meets for an hour with the Queen (his coach?!) to discuss matters of state. The PM is not required to follow any of the Queen’s advice, indeed it is part of the Queen’s charge to support the PM. But in the play, she does ask challenging questions, at times, with an aim of helping the PM determine the best course of action to take, whether it is the Suez Crisis or dealing with apartheid in South Africa.
Of course, government and business leaders of all kinds have many advisers helping them do their job. But a cabinet member is not the same as your own, private expert coach. In actual fact, the leader of an important country, Great Britain, meets weekly with someone – the Queen – for one-on-one, confidential guidance and support.
I am obviously pro-coach and hope everyone finds themselves a great business, executive or career coach, whether formally or informally, whether with Queen Elizabeth, me, or someone else. We all need confidential, experienced guidance and a witness to our success and challenges.
Queen Anne, Coach. I like the ring of that. 😉