“The greatest among you must become like the youngest and the leader like one who serves.” Jesus in today’s Gospel, Luke 22:24-30.
“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 the strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me as I now invite you to do…. God help me to make good my vow and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.” Princess Elizabeth on her 21st birthday, 21st April 1947.
Today marks the actual Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II who ascended the throne on safari in Kenya whilst undertaking a tour for her father King George VI, who was too unwell to fly. The former Princess was one of the last people to know of her accession due to the difficulties with communications in those days; the news was announced at 10.45am and broadcast at 11.15am where it was heard in his Kenyan hotel by her private secretary Martin Charteris. He in turn telephoned Prince Philip’s private secretary Mike Parker who told the Prince and he then broke the news to his wife at 11.45am London time. Many millions knew of her father’s death before the new Queen but those three people were crucial to informing her and then supporting her in all that lay ahead. Perhaps we have also experienced the support of particular individuals at a time of crisis?
As is her custom, the Queen is spending the anniversary quietly at Sandringham where her father died at the early age of 56. This year will be her first as a widow since the recent death of Prince Philip and, with such a turbulent time for the Royal Family in recent years and the consequences of the pandemic, the Queen has much to ponder as she reflects on her historic reign at this poignant time. Whatever their view of the monarchy or the rest of the Royal Family, many people would agree that the Queen has faithfully carried out the vow she made on her 21st birthday. There will be much for which to be thankful during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations later this year as the longest reign in history is marked with the steadfast Queen even keeping the same hairstyle throughout!
As a schoolchild, I recall waiting for the Queen to drive past when she came to Nottingham – the sun glinting on the highly polished Daimler and her smile as she drove past and waved made it a sparkling occasion for all of us. By contrast, I also recall our later family visit to Sandringham when my father covertly took cuttings from the fuschias in the grounds. As a keen gardener, he felt sure that Her Majesty would be only too pleased for him to take the cuttings whereas Mum was certain that the corgis would be set upon us! Those cuttings thrived and were later planted on either side of the front gate of our home, growing into sizeable bushes of which Dad was proud.
In becoming the longest reigning monarch at 95 and being Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the Queen’s faith continues to underpin her service and has been expressed down the years in her Christmas broadcasts and speeches. Her reign began in bereavement and, as a leader who serves, the Queen’s words often reflect those of Jesus: “We remember that God sent his only Son “to serve, not to be served”. It is my prayer….that his example will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others.” Christmas broadcast, 2012.
In her Platinum Jubilee statement, the Queen not only reflected on her reign but also looked to the future in making known her wish for the Duchess of Cornwall to become Queen Consort in due course. The monarch also stated that, “I look forward to continuing to serve you with all my heart.” Queen Elizabeth II has made good her vow in which she invited us to share. Are we making good our part in also serving others?
With my prayers; pob bendith,