Numb. An age has ended that felt as if it would be with us forever, but could never be. Each tribute I could pay to Her Late Majesty will have been said many times by others – sentiments so repeated as to sound like clichés but no less true and heartfelt for that. She was loved deeply by all, and I pray that she knew she was loved.
A lifetime of unswerving service is concluded.
We will often in these days be reminded of the speech which the twenty-one year old Princess Elizabeth made in Cape Town, dedicating her life be it long or short, to the service of her people. Many a speech have we heard from politicians entering office pledging impossible service only to disappoint, but the young Queen kept her word tirelessly, without pause or deviation, and indeed with more vigour than her words could express. Even in her last days she was performing with a smile her heavy constitutional duties, appointing her fifteen and final Prime Minister.
The kingdom and the whole world have changed utterly in the past 70 years, bewilderingly from the coal-smoked, diesel-fired, Imperial, deferential, war-shattered world of 1952 to the world we find ourselves amongst in 2022; a journey of excitement, fear, many, many false starts and failures and final triumphs, but one constant thread remained with us: Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen was all we knew – all of us except those over 70 have been born and grown up all our lives with one mother of the nation over us. We have not imagined there could be any other sovereign. This morning looking outside the window, the country looks different somehow. I tread uncertain streets. I have seen neighbours weeping in the street – neighbours who just a few months ago were celebrating and decking their houses with bunting for the Jubilee, but suddenly the jubilation has ceased and turned to mourning.
Now the world passes from the New Elizabethan Age, to an unfamiliar New Caroline Age.
What should a King do? To pray perhaps as Elisha did as his master was reaching his end: “And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.” As any portion of the spirit of our late Queen rests upon the King, it is a glorious gift. We know too he will pray like Solomon for the gift of wisdom: “give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
We mourn as the age passes, but a new age begins.
GOD SAVE THE KING