As I write this I am aware of a deep sense of gratitude and anticipation. HM Queen Elizabeth II has been our constant point of reference in a period of unprecedented change for more than seventy years.
Across our beautiful county street parties, church services of thanksgiving and civic celebrations will honour our Queen and her lifetime of service and duty.
During Queen Elizabeth II’s reign our nation has witnessed great changes in society. She has affirmed what is best in our national life and tended to those in need. Together we have shared her joys and sorrows as she has shared ours. Reconciliation, too, has been a defining quality of her reign. Here is a monarch able to bring reconciliation to her peoples as witnessed in Northern Ireland.
The Queen’s Christian faith has been one of the cornerstones of her life and reign. It has informed her sense of calling to the role of monarch and the qualities of service, respect and duty through which she has blessed us all. The words from The Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion resonate in my heart as I pray – ‘We beseech thee also to save and defend all Christian Kings, Princes, and Governors; and specially thy servant Elizabeth our Queen; that under her we may be godly and quietly governed…’ Elizabeth II still holds the title ‘Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England’. In her first Christmas address she asked people, whatever their religion, to pray that God would give her the wisdom and strength to carry out the promises that she would make on the day of her Coronation.
Queen Elizabeth II’s long reign has been shaped by her faith and her family, by love, service, respect, duty and courage. Her faithful life has provided a generous example to us all.
Prince William reflected on his grandmother in the preface of the former home secretary, Douglas Hurd’s book about the Queen. He wrote ‘Time and again, quietly and modestly, the Queen has shown us all that we can confidently embrace the future without compromising the things that are important.’
God willing, as we celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee each of us will make time to give thanks for her reign. Whether we draw our inspiration from the sacred or the secular we will be united in celebrating that we are blessed to live in the second great Elizabethan age. Congratulations your Majesty on your Platinum Jubilee from all of us here in Sussex!