Much of what is known about Elizabeth's personality and views has been compiled from impressions and descriptions by those she has met. Canadian politician Michael Ignatieff remarked in 2010, after a private audience with the Queen, how he was struck by her "wonderful sense of the absurd" and noted her "sense of humour, that sense of the absurd, that sense of comedy of life has survived 60 years of gruelling public life." After a weekend at Balmoral Castle hosted by the Queen, Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean recounted witnessing a relaxed, informal home life: Elizabeth and her family preparing a meal together—including a salad dressing devised by the Queen—and doing the washing up afterwards. Lady Pamela Hicks, a cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, commented on Elizabeth's personality as "individualistic". Hicks' mother remembers back to when George VI died. Elizabeth was in Kenya with her husband when she found out, "I’m so sorry, but we are going to have to go back to England," she recalled Elizabeth saying.
Opinion polls have regularly shown that Queen Elizabeth II has an excellent approval rating; coinciding with her Diamond Jubilee, the Queen had an approval rate in the United Kingdom of 90% in 2012. According to a YouGov poll in January 2014, the Queen was the most admired person in the United Kingdom with 18.74% of respondents reporting that she was the person they most admired, the highest percentage of all candidates. Internationally she was the 17th most-admired person in the world.
In 2002, the Queen was ranked 24th in the 100 Greatest Britons poll. In 1997, she and other members of the royal family were perceived in the tabloid press as cold and unfeeling when they did not participate in the public outpouring of grief at the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The Queen ignored precedent to bow to Diana's coffin as it passed Buckingham Palace and also gave a live television broadcast paying tribute to Diana.
Elizabeth's public image has noticeably softened in recent years; although she remains reserved in public, she has been seen laughing and smiling much more than in years past, and has shed tears during emotional occasions such as at Remembrance Day services, the memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral for those killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, and in Normandy, for the 60th anniversary of D-Day, where she addressed the Canadian troops. During most public appearances, she is dressed in solid colours, as this enhances visibility from a distance.
In recent years, Elizabeth has also been portrayed as being a modern grandmother. She is said to have been "addicted" to playing with a Nintendo Wii, which was bought by Kate Middleton for Prince William. She set up her e-mail account and owns both a mobile phone and an iPod. When President Barack Obama visited the Queen and Prince Philip in April 2009, he gave her a personalised iPod, which was pre-loaded with forty "classic" tunes and video footage of her visit to Virginia.