It is the end of an era. The Queen died yesterday afternoon, after more than seventy years on the throne. She was a power that was there and worked. As several BBC commentators pointed out last night, she was the one fixed and stable point in a rapidly changing world, and her passing is going to be unsettling at best.
I am not, and never have been, an ardent monarchist, but I have always respected the Queen. I cannot help admiring her long and unwavering commitment to her royal role, right to the end – two days before she passed, she received both Boris Johnson and Liz Truss at Balmoral, to mark the change of Prime Minister, spending about 30 minutes with each. Her high sense of duty was admirable.
Only people over the age of 75 will have any real memory of life before she came to the throne in 1952. Although my best friend, who is 71, remembers the pomp and ceremony of the coronation in 1953. It is the end of an era indeed.
Prime ministers come and go, as do governments, but the Queen was a constant, stabilising presence above the political fray. She was a superb stateswoman and ambassador for this country, which may be judged by the generous, heartfelt tributes which have been pouring in from all over the world. I was never fortunate enough to meet her in person, but I have met Princess Anne, who shares her mother’s dedicated work ethic and her ability to pay attention to others, wherever she is.
And the Queen was much loved by her people. I am glad she was able to experience the Platinum Jubilee, so that she could see for herself the affection which the people of this country have for her. But we cannot wish her back. I am glad for her – I think the heart went out of her when Prince Philip died – but sad for us. She is now at peace and with him.
I hope in the days and weeks to come, when they will be so much in the public spotlight, that the royal family (to whom she was not only Queen, but also mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt and cousin) will be given time and space to grieve in private.
As for the rest of us, the sense of loss is real. I wish King Charles all the very best, as he steps into the role of monarch. He has a good role model to follow.
Spirit of Life and Love,
In this time of loss and sadness
we come together as a community
to mark the end of the days of Queen Elizabeth II:
to honour and celebrate her life,
to mourn her passing,
to hold her loved ones in their grief,
and to find strength from one another
for the days ahead,
in which she will no longer be present.
May our Unitarian community help us
to accept the mystery of life and death,
and to go forth into the future
consoled and strengthened.