There is no doubt that the death of Queen Elizabeth II, following the longest reign in British history and the second longest anywhere in the world, ever, will be a milestone in the life of the nation. I found myself unexpectedly tearful as I heard the news.
I cannot offer any lyrical eulogy as others might; I have no anecdotes of my own. But I can offer three things.
First, I was moved and inspired by the way that the Queen seemed to become more confident and explicit in articulating her faith in her annual Christmas broadcasts. I am not alone in noticing this; Catholic commentator Catherine Pepinster noted a few years ago:
A survey of the broadcasts made during her 65-year reign reveals that for most of the time the Queen has spoken only in passing of the religious significance of Christmas. There have been references to presents linking contemporary Christmas to the three wise men, for instance, alongside trips to Commonwealth countries, family events such as weddings and funerals, and there were observations about contemporary society. In 1966, for example, she spoke of the progress of women, and in 1972, she commented on Britain joining the European Community in language that would make any Remainer proud.
But for the past 17 years, her messages have taken on a different tone, with the Queen explaining her own personal faith – “the anchor in my life”, as she described it in 2014.
Here some highlights from recent years.
2000: To many of us our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.
2002: I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God… I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.
2008: I hope that, like me, you will be comforted by the example of Jesus of Nazareth who, often in circumstances of great adversity, managed to live an outgoing, unselfish and sacrificial life … He makes it clear that genuine human happiness and satisfaction lie more in giving than receiving; more in serving than in being served.
2011: Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general…but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.
2012: This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son “to serve, not to be served”. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer this Christmas Day that his example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others. The carol, “In the Bleak Midwinter” ends by asking a question of all of us who know the Christmas story, of how God gave himself to us in humble service:
What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man, I would do my part…
The carol gives the answer, ‘Yet what I can I give him – give my heart’.
2013: For Christians, as for all people of faith, reflection, meditation and prayer help us to renew ourselves in God’s love, as we strive daily to become better people. The Christmas message shows us that this love is for everyone. There is no one beyond its reach.
2014: For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.
2016: Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.
2017: Jesus Christ lived obscurely most of his life and never travelled far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love.
2020 (Easter message): This year, Easter will be different for many of us, but by keeping apart we keep others safe. But Easter isn’t cancelled; indeed, we need Easter as much as ever. As darkness falls on the Saturday before Easter Day, many Christians would normally light candles together. It’s a way of showing how the good news of Christ’s resurrection has been passed on from the first Easter by every generation until now. The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose, and we can all take heart from this.
2021: It is this simplicity of the Christmas story that makes it so universally appealing: simple happenings that formed the starting point of the life of Jesus, a man whose teachings have been handed down from generation to generation, and have been the bedrock of my faith. His birth marked a new beginning. As the carol says: ‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight’.
Secondly, this is a time to reflect on key Scripture passages which express hope in the face of death, passages which the Queen will have known well. The first passage which came to mind for me, in the moment that I heard the news, was from the Book of Revelation:
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” Rev 14.13.
But other key passages come to mind:
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thess 4.13–18)
As we grieve the loss of our Queen, we do not grieve as those who have no hope, and it was this hope that the Queen spoke of time and again.
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” (John 11.17–27)
This faith, this belief, is one that the Queen herself shared and encouraged in others.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. (Rev 21.1–7)
At the funeral of Prince Philip, at the end of the service, the guardsmen first played the Last Post, signalling the end of his earthly life. But they then played the Reveille, the signal of a new day, reflecting his confidence that there is a new day coming when Jesus returns and the creation is renewed. Many think that it was in fact Prince Philip’s faith that encouraged the Queen to be more open about her own faith in recent years.
Lastly, there are three passages from Christian writers that I have always found to be deeply moving when thinking about death, our mortality, and the hope of resurrection life that Jesus holds out to us.
The first is from the description of the Christian and his companion Hopeful crossing the river of death as they head towards the Celestial City from Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.
Now I further saw that betwixt them and the gate was a river; but there was no bridge to go over: the river was very deep. At the sight, therefore, of this river, the pilgrims were much astounded; but the men that went with them said, “You must go through, or you cannot come at the gate.”
The pilgrims then – especially Christian – began to despond in their minds; and looked this way and that, but no way could be found by them by which they might escape the river. Then they asked the men if the waters were all of a depth? They said, “No”; yet they could not help them in that case, for said they, “you shall find it deeper or shallower as you believe in the King of the place.”
They then addressed themselves to the water; and entering, Christian began to sink. And crying out to his good friend, Hopeful, he said, “I sink in deep waters, the billows go over my head; all his waves go over me.”…
Hopeful, therefore, here had much ado to keep his brother’s head above water; yea, sometimes he would be quite gone down, and then ere awhile he would rise up again half dead. Hopeful also would endeavour to comfort him, saying, “Brother, I see the gate, and men standing by it to receive us.” …
Then they both took courage, and the enemy was after that as still as a stone, until they were gone over. Christian therefore presently found ground to stand upon; and so it followed that the rest of the river was but shallow. Thus they got over.
Now upon the bank of the river, on the other side, they saw the two shining men again who there waited for them; wherefore, being come up out of the river, they saluted them, saying, “We are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those that shall be heirs of salvation.” Thus they went along towards the gate. Now you must note that the City stood upon a mighty hill; but the pilgrims went up that hill with ease, because they had these two men to lead them up by the arms; also they had left their mortal garments behind them in the river; for though they went in with them, they came out without them. They therefore went up here with much agility and speed; though the foundation upon which the City was framed was higher than the clouds. They therefore went up through the regions of the air, sweetly talking as they went; being comforted, because they safely got over the river, and had such glorious companions to attend them.
The second is from the end of The Last Battle by C S Lewis.
Aslan turned to them and said: “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.” Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often.” “No fear of that,” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed?” Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them. “There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are – as you used to call it in the Shadowlands – dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
And the third is from Lewis’ friend J R R Tolkien, and the final scene in Lord of the Rings.
Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went aboard; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost. And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.
In the films by Peter Jackson, this vision is brought forward and spoken of by Gandalf to Pippin during the siege of Minas Tirith.
This was the hope in which the Queen lived and died; this is the hope offered to all who trust in Jesus.
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let those who hear say, “Come!” Let those who are thirsty come; and let all who wish take the free gift of the water of life. (Rev 22.17)
58 thoughts on “Grief and hope in mourning Queen Elizabeth II”
Well done and many thanks, Ian for collating these passages. And well done for all, her husband, parents and chaplains who led her like Hopeful to a glorious beginning, not the end we are mourning.
Dear John, I’m glad that you mentioned the royal chaplains. My great grand-father Rev Humphrey Barclay was chaplain to the King at Windsor during WW2 and as part of his duties he prepared the then Princess Elizabeth for her confirmation. I know many others will have perhaps played a more key role and clearly Billy Graham was much used by the Lord to strengthen and refine the Queen in her faith but nonetheless I’m proud of my great grand-father’s influence.
I was just told this when I saw my parents this weekend. I had no idea and very lovely to hear.
a stunning piece of work Ian and such a wonderful resource for ministry during this time. Thank you
I hope it is useful! Do pass it on…
This is lovely Ian, and I shall probably return to it. But as a Tolkien fan, I must point out that Frodo was not dying, but going to spend a certain amount of time in the Undying Lands to be healed before he died. Gandalf’s speech to Pippin in the film, which plainly is about death, makes this confusing.
That’s interesting. Given that this is the very end of the book, what makes you think this? Isn’t in the clue ‘the undying lands’?
Another Tolkien fan suggests that the book offers a deliberate ambiguity as to whether or not Frodo died as part of “going into the West.” Frodo mirrors Enoch – “he was not, for God took him.”
Beautifully put, Ian. Thanks.
Wonderful set of passages for us at this time. Thank you, Ian.
I’m using the Queen’s own words in the order of service, eg.
Service To Commemorate The Death And Celebrate The Life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Words Of Welcome
“As so often in our lives at time of tragedy – just as on occasions of celebration and thanksgiving – we look to the Church to bring us together as a nation or as a community in commemoration and tribute. It is to the Church that we turn to give meaning to these moments of intense human experience through prayer, symbol and ceremony.” (Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II)
Introduction to Confession:
“History teaches us we…need saving from ourselves, from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person, neither a philosopher or a general, important as they are, but a saviour with the power to forgive.” (Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II)
“Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.” (Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II)
As a blessing at the end of the service:
“For me the teachings of Christ and my personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example. I believe that the Christian message, in the words of a familiar blessing, remains profoundly important to us all:
‘Go forth into the world in peace, be of good courage,
hold fast that which is good,
render to no man evil for evil,
strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak,
help the afflicted, honour all men.’
It is a simple message of compassion – and yet as powerful as ever today, 2,000 years after Christ’s birth.” (Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II)
How wonderful! I hope others might do the same…
Instead of a sermon, this printed in the order of service (rough first daft)
A Sermon Of Sort (Words From Her Majesty The Late Queen Elizabeth)
“To many of us our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.”
“For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role-model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none. He knew rejection, hardship and persecution; and yet it is Jesus Christ’s generous love and example which has inspired me through good times and bad.”
“Christ not only revealed to us the truth in his teachings. He lived by what he believed and gave us the strength to try to do the same – and, finally, on the cross, he showed the supreme example of physical and moral courage.”
“I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God!”
“In difficult times we may be tempted to find excuses for self-indulgence and to wash our hands of responsibility. Christ[ . . .] stands for the opposite […] we need to go out and look for opportunities to help those less fortunate than ourselves, even if that service demands sacrifice.”
“Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another. Although it is not an easy message to follow, we shouldn’t be discouraged; rather, it inspires us to try harder: to be thankful for the people who bring love and happiness into our own lives, and to look for ways of spreading that love to others, whenever and wherever we can.”
“Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.”
Why the tears? We cry when something hurts, and when people who play a significant role in our lives die it’s not unlike an amputation: something which helped to make us who we are has been taken from us.
I don’t quite understand why so many British people have such an emotional investment in our royal family but I certainly know why monarchists and republicans alike have truly respected and even loved the person who was Queen Elizabeth II. I won’t rhapsodize about her because it’s unnecessary for those who understand and pointless for those who never will. Britain has been incredibly lucky – undeservedly so – in having her as monarch for so many years. I believe a major part of what formed her character was her Christian faith, lived out consistently in circumstances beyond anything most of us will ever know. Ian has produced a great piece about it here with much food for thought.
I fervently hope our Christian leaders will resist the temptation to engage in fine words and public pomposity over the next couple of weeks and instead use this time to address the subject of death and present the answering offer of the Christian hope before the British people. Perhaps our former Queen’s final gift to the nation is that the unashamed Christian witness of her life (as described by Ian) allows the Christian gospel (and what it actually means) to be laid before a needy nation without embarrassment or charges of muscling in on a big national event. Her own words are undeniable: she has laid out the ground for us.
Britain is reeling under some pretty chaotic recent and current events. We have a new prime minister and a new king in the same week. Our future has rarely been so uncertain. Some people – perhaps many people – will be broken, fearful, lost to dark thoughts and without hope. Yet God remains sovereign and eternal salvation remains open to all who hear about it and choose to receive it. Let it be heard.
‘We have a new prime minister and a new king in the same week. Our future has rarely been so uncertain.’ Er, perhaps that is why people have cried. Perhaps they might even have felt some sense of strong personal connection with her.
I think that is worth spending some time trying to understand…!
But, Ian, she was who she was because of her faith in Jesus. And if that is forensically removed by the pundits, is not any personal connection (of the public) based on a felt misplaced hope, for the future. Likewise, hope, trust, in Truss, and King Charles 111.
And as you have demonstrated so well Ian, the Queen’s hope, as all Christian hope is built on nothing less than the solid Rock of Jesus blood and righteousness.
Ian, ‘Why the tears?’ can be taken in more than one way. Those three words I used at the start of my comment were not remotely suggesting scorn or puzzlement at why people might be tearful at our queen’s death, but your reply makes me think that’s how you took it. As someone who has played the organ at countless (hundreds) of funerals I am more than familiar, and understanding, with tears at times of bereavement.
Everything I wrote after that first question was directed towards the title of your piece (‘Grief and hope in mourning Queen Elizabeth II’). I addressed the grief we feel at our loss but specifically chose not to ”rhapsodize about her because it’s unnecessary…’ (ie we all know about why she means so much to people) and finished with my hope that Christian leaders would use this particular moment to share the ‘hope’ of the gospel with the nation. I thought your piece was excellent. I don’t understand why you treated my comment as you did. But I might plead guilty to an ambiguous opening phrase if you insist!
Any personal connection with her would be a sentimental illusion. She is a symbol, and therein lies the power of the monarchy, for it has no political power.
That is an odd comment, at least in relation to those who met and interacted with her…
I heard someone say the other day that she had ‘soft power’. That seemed an appropriate way of expressing her power. She by dint of office, character and age had influence if little formal authority.
The future is always uncertain by definition. Nothing has changed.
Your definition of ‘the future’ is true, but in speaking about the current situation in the UK there is good reason for saying ‘Our future has rarely been so uncertain.’
Nothing has changed. The future is certain even if not immediately so.
It is central to Ian’s article and quotes.
Not a Christian perspective Peter. The hope of faith is always certain even when attacked by unbelief.
You can have hope even in an uncertain future. Some would say that is a definition of Christianity.
This piece from Ian, is not something I’ve seen or heard nationally, with its emphasis on the who of the Queen’s faith, Jesus, his uniqueness, of whom she was not embarrassed, or ashamed to profess and promote: neither from the BBC nor the Archbishop of Canterbury.
But the article is not something to be hidden away in the recesses of the Christian blogs-sphere.
What now, the CoE?
Jordan Peterson is not everyone’s cup of tea, but his lectures and comments attract a lot of serious attention. When seeking to engage in God talk they might either be a useful springboard, or something to bounce off when seeking to engage in God talk.
His comments on The Queen and her passing can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5os9bT9zuo&t=95s. I’d be interested in the thoughts of those who know his work or have come across him, with apologies if this is not the right forum.
Since I started writing this, another 30,000 have listened to this interview (from Manchester) on YouTube, and he seems to be in a space which we as Christian theologians should be working in. An analysis of the comments would be a worthwhile exercise, but I don’t have the time.
Make that 40,000.
It’s a fine reflection delivered in typically Petersonian fashion, embracing half a dozen angles before hitting home.
I especially loved the reminder that Britain is the only country in world history to abolish global slavery and it did so at enirmius personal and financial cost, at the height of national greatness under Queen Victoria.
How proud we should be of those great British Christians Clarkson, Newton, Wilberforce, Livingstone and countless others.
He’s one of the few big voices who are calling out the ever faster pace towards global authoritarian control (WEF/WHO/ global banks and corporations and their growing band of sympathisers in the governments of Western democracies – plus Prince Charles of course until today!). Some Christians are finally waking up to what’s happening, but certainly no big Christian leaders seem moved to get involved. Jordan Peterson is highly intelligent, eloquent in a refreshingly natural Canadian way, firmly anti woke, well informed, well travelled, fearless, and has first hand experience of what is happening because he comes from Canada where the WEF poster boy, Justin Trudeau is busy sucking the life out of the place.
No one can lay the tired and tedious charge of ‘conspiracy theorist’ against Peterson. In any case it’s far too obvious for any informed person to have doubts any more. He’s particularly concerned about WEF advocating agricultural policies which can only lead to starvation for the poorest people of the world (as has been happening in Sri Lanka). He’s only fairly recently taken to presenting his stuff on YouTube. From what he’s just said he has very high regard for our British monarchy but now wonders about its future.
He doesn’t profess Christian faith but is certainly ready to engage with it. I believe some people think he’s halfway there. I have no idea, and anyway that final step of faith is a work of the Holy Spirit who works in ways none of us can direct or predict (fortunately?). I’m sure you’re right about Christians being in the space where he is working; I have the sense that St Paul would be in there but others might well disagree on that. I think God needs us Christians to be everywhere – no ‘no go’ areas! But of course different people are called to different areas of ministry and witness.
Yes I had listened to this and thought it was good.
An excellent collection Ian, I hope many churches will use such material in their services and outreach over the next couple of Sundays. Thank you for all you do in sounding the depths of the Scriptures to make our understanding and teaching that bit deeper.
Thank you so much – so useful and inspiring as we all begin to rewrite our sermons for Sunday. Thank you for writing so beautifully – brought a lump to my throat.
So glad they are useful…
Excellent piece. I’m wondering how much of my sadness relates to fear that the values inculcated in us ‘oldies’ and that she embodied are also passing away. An erstwhile schoolmate summed them up in the words of our (otherwise ghastly) school song…”wisdom, honour, service, truth, duty, love and strong endeavour”. They seem so old fashioned, but in grieving the loss of Her Majesty are folk recognising their crucial importance?
I wonder if it is both/and—realising that they are important, but also lacking the understanding of how to live these things out, and thus sensing that they are, in the Queen’s death, departing from us.
The Queen is appropriately dead. She is appropriately dead because:
– the necessity of lifelong service is dead
– the decency of our being valued for who we are ahead of what we do is dead
– the belief that persistent temperance is powerful is dead
– the desire to learn from those who came before us is dead
– the importance of our being stewards for future generations is dead.
But most importantly the Queen is appropriately dead because the fact that we are all sons and daughters of the King is dead.
Thankyou Ian – really super piece – now to tweak my sermon for sunday 😉
A personal encounter today. A neighbour, an immigrant neighbour from central Africa, struck up a conversation with me as we going into our houses. He was greatly upset at the death of the Queen, hugely impressed at her character; an opening to draw in her faith that made her who she was, before the rain took him inside closing down the chat.
And I thank God for the Thanksgiving Service from St Paul’s this evening revolving around God/scripture spoken with confidence and clarity.
We Britons should rejoice that we have contrived to reach much legal democracy (we still need more of the economic) without losing our ceremonial Monarchy. . . . A man’s reaction to Monarchy is a kind of test. Monarchy can easily be “debunked”; but watch the faces, mark well the accents, of the debunkers. These are the men whose tap-root in Eden has been cut: whom no rumour of the polyphony, the dance, can reach—men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Yet even if they desire mere equality they cannot reach it. Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters.
C.S. Lewis, “Equality” (Read the whole essay in “Present Concerns”)
“There is no doubt that the death of Queen Elizabeth II, following the longest reign in British history and the second longest anywhere in the world, ever, will be a milestone in the life of the nation.” Really? When people are asked to justify monarchy, they point out that it is not so bad since it is merely ceremonial. If it is merely ceremonial, and if Charles will continue the same role, how can the transition be a “milestone in the life of the nation”? Surely it is an irrelevance, when correctly understood. Of course, many people felt they had a personal relationship with her, as if she was their grandmother, for example. I get that. However, I do think it would be more healthy for people to invest their emotional energy into time spent with their real grandmothers.
Richard – so I take it you aren’t even trying to figure out how to put black borders around your emails?
I’m also somewhat bemused by this. An old person, personally unknown to me, dies at a ripe old age. She was the most senior diplomat at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – and apparently very good at her job. So far so good – but I still don’t understand why I should be expected to join in with this grief-fest. Surely grief is for the departure of people with whom we have a personal acquaintance?
There are different kinds of emotional energy. You cant really stop feelings of grief arising. Although I have only felt real, intense grief at the death of my parents, the death of the Queen did bring a little tear to my eye. She reminded me of my own mother in her last days. But I think many have been shocked at the timing of her death – greeting & shaking the hand of the new PM on Tuesday, dead on Thursday.
But I agree re grandmothers, many grandchildren are simply uninterested. But then I have to admit when I was a child I wasnt too interested.
As we sang numerous times but less frequent as the decades passed God did save the Queen.
Like scripture, the National anthem began with God, a reminder to her of her position under and dependance on God.
God answered the nation’s – and beyond- prayers.
Every successful national team. athlete honouring ceremony, in the anthem, began with God, pointing away from self-honour, but to God’s saving grace and honour, however unknowingly, unwittingly. God’s Monarchy, Sovereignty, first, above all.
God save the King.
The England Test national cricket team became the first national sporting team to sing, at the Oval cricket ground, God Save the King.
After which they won!
It is troubling that the anthem calls for a flawed human, not God, to “reign over us”. I refuse to sing it, and so should you.
Richard – well, perhaps you refuse to sing it, but do you stand up when the national anthem is performed? Spike Milligan had a very good sketch on this in his Q5 series, answering the question ‘do people stand up when they hear the national anthem?’ The answer was affirmative.
The NT seems to be respectful of kings and queens. At least ours seems to have been a believer.
Charles is not a king or a monarch, since it is parliament that governs. It would be problematic if he was. People call him a king, but that does not make him one. He is a celebrity who is famous for being famous. All those titles and ceremonies have no substance, as far as I can tell.
If it is all ‘fluff’ why are you concerned?
Peter, my main concern about the “monarchy” is that it denies voting rights and jobs to people who do not buy into it. Those who move to most countries that have Charles as their “king”, including the UK, cannot become citizens or vote until they have taken an oath of “true allegiance” to the “king” and his heirs. Similarly the oath is required of those who become members of armed forces, Church of England pastors, members of Parliament, and judges. It is deeply hurtful.
I am also concerned about the unhealthy nature of celebrity culture, and the class system. The cost of the “monarchy” is secondary to me.
Well Israel had a divine king and a human king. We are exhorted in the NT to ‘honour the emperor’ and to pray for kings and all in authority. Kings etc are God’s servants given authority by him whether they know it or not.
I come under the Sovereignty of the Triune God of Christianity, not your shoulds, thank you.
I live in a country under the sovereignty of monarch in parliament, with its checks and balances and separation of powers.
I do not worship the monarchy, the supreme governor of the CoE -Defender of the faith.
I accept that the Queen did so. I know nothing of you or your righteous shoulds and shouldn’ts, imperatives.
I have no personal grief, but people grieve over loss of all sorts of things and attached memories.
We are called as Christians to pray for our leaders.
I trust you’ll be praying for the King, the Prime minister and cabinet and all influencers.
I will miss the Queen for the expressions of her faith in Christ such as Ian has quoted. It seems to me that at those times she was less reticent to speak of Christ than the ABoC.
How about you?
Well in a democracy it is the people, individually and as a collective, who are sovereign (under God, obviously, who is sovereign over all creation). You cannot have two human sovereignties at one and the same time. Contrary to what some parliamentarians would like people to think, our parliament is obviously not sovereign; but it is lent a certain defined level of authority, for a maximum fixed period, by the sovereign authority of the people (via elections). We may call our monarch the ‘sovereign’ but that’s a historical title we have never worried about removing because he/she never actually tries to seize our sovereignty back from us. Woe betide him/her if he/she ever did!
I think that’s why we can feel such affection towards our monarch who actually has the role of protector rather than ruler. It may be strange, and even hard to justify or explain to those who have never known it, but somehow it works. Although I do think a lot depends on the character of whoever has that role. We need to pray for our new monarch – he now has a task demanding the wisdom of Solomon. Very wisely he has announced that he will no longer be involved in any of his previous political activities – not least his deep involvement with the WEF. That is extremely good news!
Depends what you mean a democratic sovereignty in England, parliamentary sovereignty, to rule and govern and make laws, is the State. Crime is an act against the state expressed at the Crown prosecuting the individual. Parliament, the executive and legislature, as it is constituted can not bind future Parliament’s and laws and as such each Parliament is sovereign in law making and governing.
But this is yet another example of deviation from the nub if Ian’s article and something we seem to be prone to: poor reading, misreading and understanding of comments, read through our own lens, point of view, and presuppostions along with less than full comments.
A key point I was making was the Monarch is under the Monarchy, Sovereignty of God. God first.
I don’t resile from the gist of Jordan Peterson’s you tube, but it is a far cry from the.gist of Ian’s article which focusses on the Queen’s faith.
While the Queen was held in high esteem, far and wide.
The Sovereing King of Kings was esteemed not, killed as a criminal, laid not in state for crowds, but his glory was displayed in the darkness of Golgotha and desertion and being disowned before ascension to enthronement. Not process, a model, followed by any human monarch enthronement ascensioin to the throne.
Our God reigns.
“May he defend our laws…. And ever GIVE US CAUSE to sing with heart and voice” God save the king”.
The contract in verse 2 is often, usually, missed.
Excellent piece. Many thanks. The Scripture that came to me was Isaiah 6.
1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
Uzziah had been a strong and on the whole good king. – he was succeeded by in ineffectual one. Isaiah is given a vision of the one true King. He need not fear the demise of Uzziah.
Here is an excellent reflection on monarchy from Alastair Roberts: