The Queen The Movie English Literature Essay

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In the beginning of the movie there is a changing of the formal authority in England. Tony Blair has been selected as the new Prime Minister of England by the voting public but the position is not actually official until the Queen of England accepts him as the leader of her new government. "Rank shows up in countless ways" (Mindell, 1995). The rank of the people in power in England goes from the royal family, then to the Prime Minister who is the head of the government. There is a correlation to the United States in that we both have heads of the country but unlike the United States, England has a royal family that is overlooking and monitoring the actions of the government. Blair wants to enforce a new radical shake-up of the Constitution and become a more modern society where as the Queen still believes in the traditions and customs that have been in place for centuries. This situation creates a possible divide in the government because they are unsure which direction is best suited for England. On one hand, they have been doing things the same way for centuries and are still intact so the "why fix what isn't broke" motto can be used to justify staying the same, but on the other hand, the world is evolving and changing rapidly and it might be time for the government to adapt as the world changes and this might be in a different direction than what the older powers are used to which makes them hesitant and uneasy about allowing such drastic change so quickly. The part in the movie where Tony Blair goes to the Queen to accept his position of Prime Minister is telling of exactly who has the power. "Rank-conscious people know that much of their power was inherited and is not shared" (Mindell, 1995). The Queen represents the true formal authority in that though Tony Blair is considered the leader of the country, he still has someone who he answers to. "Authority is power granted or conferred in the expectation that the officeholder will provide the services specified in his or her mandate or job description" (Monroe, 2004). In a way, Blair in the large picture is the informal authority that only is the middle man between the public and the Queen but for appearances sake he is the formal authority in the eyes of the public.

The next part in the movie that demonstrates where leadership is exuberated is following the sudden and tragic death of Princess Diana. It was in the Queen's opinion that the matter should remain private so there were no actions taken by the royal family to address the situation, but Blair, who understood the public popularity and what Diana represented, came out with a statement to the public and was well received for it. He gains the informal authority from the public and becomes the person that shows compassion and understanding for what the public is going through at that time. The Queen loses some informal authority here because she declines to speak publicly about the death and even might lose some formal authority because the people respect Blair more for making a statement about how the death was tragic and a loss for everyone. There is a connection to this part of the movie and the article, "Leadership in Tough Times". In the article it talks about how in times of crises people often look for the wrong type of leadership. They want someone that can make the difficult problems simple and easy to fix, but in most cases that solution is not possible and therefore people are concerned and worried about the future. In the movie, the problem, the death of Princess Diana, cannot be fixed nor remedied so the people looked for a leader that could guide them through this difficult time. The initial inclination was to look at the Queen and the royal family for that leadership, but since no answers or actions came from them the next person was Tony Blair. This case is similar to how Rudy Giuliani was looked at as the hero after the attacks on September 11th. The people of New York needed a figure to stand up and be the voice of the city and turned to Giuliani for that leadership. He was able to rally the people together to overcome the obstacles that faced the people. As for the movie, the different actions from the two main authority figures can go back to the differences in generations because the Queen is not used to the media and attention given to certain members of the royal family where as Blair understands that the public loved and adored Princess Diana and therefore should be entitled to know what is going on behind the scenes.

There were numerous perspectives for the challenges that arose following the death of Diana. First, there was the Queen's view that since Diana was no longing a part of the royal family, it was less of a concern for her and more a family matter for Diana's parents and immediate family. In the perspective of the Prime Minister, he is the man in the middle between the public and the royal family. Blair does not understand why the Queen declines to say or do anything publicly about Diana and feels it would be in the best interest if they would recognize the public's feelings and what Diana meant to them. Another perspective is the public itself. They feel as though they have just lost one of their own because of what Diana represented, she was the "People's Princess". They are angry and frustrated that the Queen and the rest of the royal family do not even acknowledge the situation, and betrayed that their own government has all but exiled her because she was no longer part of the royal family at the time of her death.

The scene where people are talking about there being no flag at half mast on the top of Buckingham Palace is truly telling of what the public was feeling at that time. It is tradition that the flag only appear when a member of the royal family is present and has been that way for generations. The Queen does not see this as a concern because she is used to customs and traditions where as the public feels the family has disowned her proven by the fact that they do not even put a flag at half mast to represent the death of a member. "Technical challenge is when the necessary knowledge about them has already been digested and put in the form of a legitimized set of known organizational procedures guiding what to do and role authorizations guiding who should do it" (Monroe, 2004). The technical challenge to why the flag was not raised was that the tradition of the flag was that it only appeared when the royal family was present and since they were not there, then no flag was raised to denote that a member of the family had died because Diana was no longer a part of the royal family. The simple solution would be to raise the flag at half mast because it would please the public. This would be the politically savvy move that would gain support from the people, but since the royal family does not have to worry about re-election, then they do not think that way. "An adaptive challenge is a problem that does not subside even when management applies the best-known methods and procedures to solve the problem" (Williams, Real Leadership). One of the adaptive challenges was should there be an exception made for the extenuating circumstances and realize that the public just wanted to know that the family mourned the death of the princess as much as they did. Another challenge faced was the fact that the Queen hated Diana and found her actions brought about bad publicity to the family. So how could Charles, her ex-husband, and Diana's children mourn her death properly if the rest of the royal family does not wish to acknowledge it?

When the time came to make arrangements for the funeral, the Queen relinquished any responsibility and cites that since Diana was not technically a part of the royal family anymore the duty did not fall upon her but rather Diana's parents. There was leadership taken by several individuals to make sure that the public would have the opportunity to attend the services because she was a powerful figure to the entire world. First, the Chancellor showed leadership in that he organized a committee to make the plans for the funeral. Secondly, Blair who sent people to the meeting to make sure that the plan could be carried out according to what was agreed upon. Thirdly, Prince Charles who, like Blair understood the popularity and stature of Princess Diana in the eyes of the public and wanted her funeral to be more than a private matter. The people involved were aware that reform and change were necessary going forward and that the government had to be flexible and willing to change as the economy changed. The modern way of thinking was to be aware of not only how the members of Diana's family would react to the situation, but also the media and the public that adored her. In the "Is Real Change Possible" article, the four quadrants were addressed. The first quadrant would focus on how an individual themselves is feeling and the growing. The Queen did not feel the need to change and develop because she has been in the position of power without the possibility of losing it barring an accident or death. Without feeling the need for personal growth and learning, real change cannot take place. The Queen is not as concerned with how the details of how the government is run, only that it is a well-oiled machine that takes care of the issues and problems that arise. It is the job of the Prime Minister to deal with the government and all that it entails. This can also be a reason why Blair has to be more in tune with what the mindset and attitude of the public is. If he was unable to adapt and change to the society, then his leadership would be in question and he would be made the scapegoat for the country's problems.

Another scene in the movie that demonstrates the fact that the Queen is unwilling to change and grow personally is when she speaks to the Prime Minister on the phone and talks about how the "mood" of the public, which is of grieve and mourning, will soon be rejected in favor of "restrained grieve and sober private mourning" (The Queen, 2006). She has the belief that she knows the people of England better than they know themselves and therefore acts according to what she feels would be appropriate. This again brings up the difference in generations and the instilled traditions and customs that the Queen has been used to for her entire life. Blair is trying to be the voice of reason and wanting the Queen to understand that the people are not as she believes and that they are losing faith in their royal family. Even the people in the Queen's circle are aware of how her actions, or the lack there of are affecting the people of England. Her unwillingness to acknowledge this results in her losing that informal authority the people give and though her formal authority may never be taken from her, the respect and admiration will be lost. The scene when the Queen's car breaks down and she sits alone is an interesting part because this is the first time where she shows any emotion over the situation and of course it is done when no one is around. She has to keep up her appearances and no let people see that she is vulnerable. This makes a connection to the "Within Ourselves" article in that people are looking for that authority figure to keep them safe and protected. They feel that their leader is superhuman and nothing can break them down. The Queen is representing this role in that she has to keep up appearances and not let people see her broken or susceptible to being overtaken by emotions. She is stuck in her ways that this is the only position she can have, where it would actually be beneficial to the public to see their Queen as hurt and wounded as they are.

When the Prime Minister contacts the Queen and informs her of what the media will be reporting in the following day's news he is demonstrating leadership because he does not to see his Queen beheaded, figuratively, by the traditions that have been in place for centuries instead of listening to the advice of Blair and possibly saving her reputation. She is finally able to see the other side of the argument and realize that her actions may not be the right ones. She opens herself up to the possibility that appealing to what the public wants is the right action only to have members of the royal family tells her that she has not done anything wrong. She then decides to take the advice of the Prime Minister and break away from royal tradition. She, along with the entire royal family, go to London and visit Buckingham Palace to show to the public that they are in mourning as well. Though she does not personally feel this way, she does it for the fact that it was what the people want and she could regain some of the informal authority that was taken when she did nothing in response to the situation. "Real leadership demands that the people make adjustments in their values, thinking, and priorities to deal with threats, accommodate new realities, and take advantage of emerging opportunities" (Williams, Real Leadership). The Queen showed that she had real leadership because she was able to adjust to the traditions and values that had been in place for centuries. She also took advantage of the opportunity, although a little late, to gain sympathy from the public for the loss of Diana. This is not the same England that existed when she first came to power and she must acknowledge this fact and adapt to what the country has become. After the matter has had some time to blow over and business became business once again, the Queen felt as those the entire situation was an embarrassment to her. In the scene Blair talked about how the extraordinary circumstances humanized her and rather made the people feel closer to her, which the Queen had no intention of doing and therefore felt it as a sign of weakness. She went on to say that she did not understand the people today and how she was brought up to believe that duty came first and self second.

The last scenes of the movie demonstrated that the Queen recognized she would need to change if she wanted to stay in tune with what the people of England felt and wanted. This is an example of leadership because she admits her shortcomings and is willing to grow and learn. This can be the beginning of real change for England. Blair has also gained that informal authority by the people through his actions during "that week". This only enhances his formal authority and allows the public to rely on him as their leader.

The movie has many instances in which different types of leadership are exhibited. There are also numerous people in whom leadership comes from, both formally and informally. With much of the attention on the Queen and the Prime Minister, it would be easy to miss examples of leadership by the Chancellor, Prince Charles, and other members of the royal family staff that led to the decisions made by the Queen. There were also many connections made from the readings that were done in class and being able to see those connections in the movie gave a better understanding to what exactly some themes were truly about. The movie also does a good job portraying the differences in types of leadership and styles. There is the old-fashioned way of thinking by the Queen and the royal family as well as the new modernized version of leadership from the Prime Minister. These contrasting styles are an example of what can be true in an organization. There are many different leaders in organizations and that can sometimes lead to confusion by the people that they try to lead.