On Saturday the people of Sussex sent their heartfelt congratulations and prayers to the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day.
The May blossom shone in the sunlight its brilliant white matched by Meghan’s dress against the uninterrupted deep blue skies across Sussex and Windsor.
Storrington, like so many villages across Sussex, was decorated with Union Jacks and bunting celebrating the marriage of HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The morning brought an additional cause for celebration as we learned that HM the Queen had made the wedding couple the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the first time the title has been used in some 175 years.
Over the centuries our nation’s history and identity has been bound up with our Royal family, our Church and our Landscape. Like the stories of our own families Britain’s recall both joys and sorrows.
We gathered with family and friends around our televisions to share in this hope filled moment in our national life and the life of the Commonwealth. The BBC was at its best.
The American Bishop the Most Reverend Michael Curry spoke eloquently and with passion to the ear of our hearts about the power of love and its ability to heal, to redeem and to undo the ills of our world.
He proclaimed “Oh there’s power, power in love. Not just in its romantic forms, but any form, any shape of love. There is something right about it. And there’s a reason for it. The reason has to do with the source…Ultimately, the source of love is God himself.”
As this remarkable couple processed along the streets of Windsor in their open topped carriage accompanied by the cheers of the crowd I left home for a celebration of life and faith of a different kind.
In the Parish Church of St Mary’s, Storrington I joined with hundreds of others to witness, pray for and celebrate the Ordination of four new Church of England Priests: The Reverends Colin Cox, Stephen Mills, Harriet Neale-Stevens and Martha Weatherill. There was a powerful sense of love and the Holy Spirit as the Bishop of Horsham, The Right Reverend Mark Sowerby, prayed the Ordination prayer over each of them.
In the early evening I found myself walking with my family along the ancient paths of the Sussex Downs at the back of Storrington on Chantry Hill. As the Larks’ song filled the air I reflected upon what a beautiful day it had been – filled with love and blessing. The Downland landscape’s beauty has held my heart for as long as I can remember and it resonated with the day which had passed. Sussex blesses me with the qualities of rootedness and community which inform my life and prayer day by day.
Spring brings new life and new beginnings and so it is with confidence that I pray that our new Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be blessed by their life together, by God and our county.
By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.