God Speed Your Majesty
"May flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest"
With shock and much sadness I am talking to you today about the Queen’s passing.
The news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has affected many in this country and around the world. The Queen’s passing is a milestone in our history, and it marks a dignified ending to the longest and most loved reign of any monarch this country has known.
Queen Elizabeth, when standing in solidarity with the United States of America after the 9/11 attack said that ‘grief is the price we pay for love’ - and this phrase has stayed with me during this time of mourning.
The love and affection we have borne for decades for this remarkable leader I believe deepens our grief – and in this grief we should take comfort because we are not alone, we share it with the whole world.
I know that I speak for so many when I express my heartfelt gratitude for the Queen, for her selfless and steadfast service to her people, for all she did for the United kingdom and for the world, and for the extraordinary example she set. Her example of faith and service will I believe endure. May she rest in peace.
In a world of uncertainty the Queen has been a steadying presence and a source of comfort and pride for over 70 years. It was both a relief and joy that the Queen was able to see and enjoy her historic Platinum Jubilee this year. Like many, I have never known the United Kingdom without her. Her reign has covered such a long period of time - over which there has been such great change - socially, economically and of course technologically. She was the first British monarch that through the wonders of the radio, the television and now of course through the internet and digital revolution, has been able to reach people across the land and all around the planet. In this way, we have been able to develop a personal and immediate connection with her - and of course observe her long and extraordinary life of service and duty.
The Prime minister, Liz Truss, recalled how the Queen shared her “deep experience of government” when the pair met at Balmoral, as she hailed the late monarch as “the rock on which modern Britain was built” , that the Queen Elizabeth was “one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known” and that the UK was a great country “because of her”. Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury observed that ‘through times of war and hardship, through seasons of upheaval and change, and through moments of joy and celebration, we have been sustained by Her Late Majesty’s faith in what and who we are called to be’. Joe Biden, the American president commented on the extraordinary contribution the Queen has made to the world through her example and leadership. Like many he also remembered her intelligence and humor, ‘the Queen charmed us with her wit, moved us with her kindness, and generously shared with us her wisdom’. Pope Francis wrote in his telegramme: “I willingly join all who mourn her loss in praying for the late Queen’s eternal rest, and in paying tribute to her life of unstinting service to the good of the Nation and the Commonwealth, her example of devotion to duty, her steadfast witness of faith in Jesus Christ and her firm hope in his promises.”
As the Head of State and the longest reigning monarch in our country’s history, Her Majesty played a central role in the life of the country, bringing us together at times of difficulty and social change and as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England she has sought to encourage faith and the values of love and care for others.
On her 21st Birthday the Queen said: I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service... But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it. Rowan Williams talked of the commitment made by the Queen as being total, it is to say: ‘I have no goals that are not the goals of this community; I have no well-being, no happiness, that is not the well-being of the community. What will make me content or happy is what makes for the good of this particular part of the human family.’ This is of course exactly how the Queen undertook her duties for over 70 years.
She worked tirelessly at an international, national and local level - forging peace, building relationships and improving cooperation. As part of this work the Queen was a Royal Patron to over 600 charities, many of them small ones supporting local communities and making enormous differences in areas of great need. Through this work, her life will be remembered as one of service, duty and devotion to communities up and down the country, the Commonwealth and beyond.
Many people, who perhaps would like to see a different kind of governance in the UK, have I know also been affected by the news - and have great respect for the Queen and all she achieved. A friend wrote, ‘I’m not a monarchist, so I’ve felt a bit surprised and uncomfortable with how much grief I’ve been feeling over the last day. It was a quote from Helen Mirren, which helped me understand why. She said: “We mourn a woman, who, with or without the crown, was the epitome of nobility." I think that’s a big part of it for me - whatever we think of the institution of the monarchy, she carried a big weight with grace and dignity. Not easy to do for a lifetime, and I will always admire her for that’.
A loss like this will affect us all in different ways, especially for those who have experienced a recent bereavement or supported someone through a recent loss and the news of the Queen’s passing may have stirred up some difficult emotions. I’m always here if you need to talk or access further support. You are not alone.
The Queen’s example during the Covid 19 pandemic is something that moved me deeply, especially her strength and her total commitment to keeping the nation safe and being an example around the restrictions. This of course was powerfully and movingly seen at the funeral of her beloved Prince Philip to whom she had been married to for 73 years.
The Queen's broadcast during the pandemic was beautiful and again has been a source of comfort to me during times of difficulty and loss: “We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again. But for now, I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all.”
God speed ma'am and thank you.
Our thoughts and prayers are also with the King, as he prepares for his Coronation and all that is to come. At the passing of his mother, the king said, ‘Queen Elizabeth was a life well lived, a promise with destiny kept, and she is mourned most deeply in her passing. That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today’.
We pray that the King and his family will be sustained in their grief by the love of God and the deep affection shown for his mother during her reign and when she was laid to rest.
We pray for King Charles III as this new chapter of our nation’s history is born.
God save the King.