What Queen Elizabeth II’s Legacy Reveals About Today’s Culture of Celebrity Narcissism

When the news came last month that Queen Elizabeth II had died peacefully at her Balmoral estate just days after being photographed looking frail but in good spirits while meeting with the newly appointed prime minister Liz Truss, it was hard to fathom. The British are known to, as the saying goes, ‘keep calm and carry on,’ but this seemed like a level of duty and sense of responsibility that we simply no longer see today.

On Monday’s show, Megyn was joined by Andrew Sullivan, the British-born founding editor of The Weekly Dish. In the wake of the Queen’s passing, Sullivan wrote a piece titled “An Icon, Not An Idol” that examined – among other things – today’s culture of narcissism and how it stands in contrast to the late monarch, which Megyn viewed as befitting commentary on what she described as “this new subset of England, and America, and the world that is just completely narcissistic and self-obsessed.” Putting the likes of Kim Kardashian, Madonna, and Meghan Markle in that category, Megyn and Sullivan discussed the trappings of fame and celebrity and how Queen Elizabeth II rose above them.

Kim Kardashian Gets Booed at an NFL Game

Over the weekend, Kardashian and her son Saint attended the NFL game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Dallas Cowboys. When the jumbotron spotted the reality star and displayed her on the screen, the fans in attendance audibly booed. “I don’t think that Kim Kardashian is at heart a bad person,” Megyn said. “I hate what she’s come to stand for, what she represents, what kind of an influence she has over our society and – in particular – our little girls, and I’ve had it with her narcissism and her endless vanity.”

While Kardashian may still boast a massive social media following and enjoy the perks of being rich and famous, Megyn thinks the public is turning on her and others like her. “I believe the reason they booed Kim Kardashian is because the country is getting sick of narcissistic, vain self-promotional, ‘rules do not apply to me’-type of people like her and Meghan Markle,” she explained. “I do think one of the reasons it’s in the ether is because of the death of the Queen and the reminder of what used to be.”

As Megyn sees it, there is a clash between “what we used to once revere” (as embodied by Queen Elizabeth II) and “this false god of money, and materialism, and selfie culture, and weird decisions on extreme plastic surgery that one refuses to acknowledge and infects into the bloodstream of our little ones, and so on” (as embodied by Kardashian, Markle, and the like).

Madonna and the Obsession with Youth

As it relates to appearance, Sullivan brought up Madonna and the bizarre videos she’s been posting as of late in which she is virtually unrecognizable. “I loved Madonna back in the day and she’s an amazing artist who’s done extraordinary things, but I guess what happens is that you become addicted to youth and fame,” he lamented. “There are methods in which you can kind of look younger in which so many people are now developing faces that really aren’t faces at all, they’re masks and they become permanently fixed on their face.”

Sullivan was referencing a TikTok video in which the “Material Girl” songstress appeared with pink hair and bleached eyebrows. She saunters around a bathroom while holding a pair of hot pink panties, while a caption on the screen reads “If I miss, I’m gay!” She proceeds to throw the underwear and badly miss the basket.

Madonna in her bizarre TikTok video.

“People think she looks like Marilyn Manson in this video,” Megyn noted. “She looks very different.” While Megyn shared that she gets Botox in her forehead, she said there is a line in which the work and transformation goes too far. “I think where people go wrong is trying to look young,” she explained. “You can look a little younger and shave off, I think, between five and seven years with taking good care of your skin, staying out of the sun, and getting the Botox, but you cannot take off 27 years or you start to look like a freak.”

Sullivan said he’s most concerned about the effect this fixation on youth is having on the youth. “What I’m concerned about is the people who get a face at age 30 and it’s the same face when they’re 80 – that’s weird,” he noted. “There was a great line by George Orwell that said, by the age of 40, everyone has the face they deserve because life has brought its painful path on your face and that’s what it means to be human.”

Rather than Madonna, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (who Sullivan noted has a “permanently startled look” where her “eyes are constantly furiously open” and her “skin is incredibly taut”), and those who are “constantly changing their face” and represent “role models of panicking,” he said society is craving “role models of aging” who accept getting older.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Discipline and Legacy

In his article, Sullivan wrote about Queen Elizabeth II’s “level of self-restraint” because it “was staggeringly rare.” Having assumed the throne at age 25, she managed to live almost her entire life in the spotlight without ever seeking it out. In her 70 years on the throne, she “never said something that drew attention to herself,” she “never engaged in some crass attempt to please people,” she “kept every single public engagement she was supposed to keep,” and she “lived up to every role she was supposed to live up to,” he explained. 

She also managed to do all of that without having a single personal opinion of hers be known. “Imagine 70 years of doing that,” Sullivan said. “[Imagine having] the discipline, the service, the humility actually to realize, ‘I’m just here because I happen to have the right genetics and I’m just plonked here on a huge big throne, but I’m going to do my job and I’m going to do it well.’”

Someone who didn’t understand this aspect of royal life? The Duchess of Sussex. “Markle got there for 10 minutes and immediately tried to turn [the Royal Family] into some celebrity, Hollywood stardom, utterly misunderstanding the institution,” Sullivan said, adding she was “rightly ejected” from the monarchy.

Ultimately, Sullivan believes we saw the international outpouring of grief and appreciation following the Queen’s passing because, while so many people buy the tabloids and gobble up the celebrity gossip, “they will respect and reveal someone who chose a different path.” Why? “Fame is the most overrated thing in our civilization,” he concluded. “It brings, generally, misery and isolation… and you can develop – as Madonna has or as many other people have – into masks that are hiding misery.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Sullivan by tuning in to episode 408 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.