Are You More Like the Queen or the Valet?


By John Pearson


This week as I was reflecting on the important role of the board, I was struck with a very poignant scene from the Netflix series, “The Crown,” about the Royal Family.

In Season 1, Episode 5, there is a creative collection of flashbacks.

It’s 1936. King George VI is rehearsing the lines for his coronation, and his little girl, Elizabeth, is reading the Archbishop’s lines. It’s the sweetest scene.

Still, in rehearsal mode, the King’s valet places that priceless, spectacular crown on King George. (It has more than 2,800 diamonds and is a foot high!) It’s heavy!


Here’s the scene:

King George: “That’s very heavy, indeed!”

Valet: “Not to mention the, uh, symbolic weight, hm?”

Young Elizabeth is beaming at her father. She is so proud of him!

The camera turns…and it’s 1952. Elizabeth is now rehearsing (at age 27). Grieving her father’s death…yet immediately, she’s queen: Queen Elizabeth II. Her coronation…just around the corner.

The camera zooms in: we see a tentative Queen…balancing the weighty crown.

The Queen: “It’s not as easy as it looks.”

The Elderly Valet: “That’s what your father said.”

The Queen: “I remember.”

The Queen: “Do you suppose I could borrow it for a couple of days? Just to practice.”

And then this line from the very proper valet:

“Borrow it, ma’am? From whom? If it’s not yours, whose is it?”


That scene touched my soul.

Remember that young Elizabeth was totally unprepared for queenship. Her father was just 56 when he died.

And…although we think we’re prepared for what’s next (strategic plans, contingency plans, back-up plans)…really, we can only trust God, day by day, week by week, year by year.

When young Queen Elizabeth asked about “borrowing” the crown (imagine!), she posed a question asked too often, perhaps, by board members, CEOs and senior team members. On paper we own the stewardship responsibilities—but really—do we personally, professionally, emotionally, and spiritually own our roles?

I confess (as I reflect on my board service over the years) that even as I’ve attempted to be a faithful steward on boards, I’ve too often been a wee bit like Elizabeth. “Whew. That’s a daunting fork-in-the-road ahead! Someone else—not me—make the decision!”

Our challenge and opportunity as board members is to treasure and wear the crown—the responsibilities—God has given each of us. Not to own it, but to be faithful and fruitful stewards on behalf of our Holy God and Heavenly King!

“Borrow it, ma’am? From whom? If it’s not yours, whose is it?”

QUESTION: As you steward your board roles and responsibilities, are you more like the young, tentative queen, or more like the valet?


This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.



This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.