God Save the King!

The medieval Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey

Throughout his life HM King Charles III has provided the most remarkable servant leadership with a deep sense of calling, vocation and stewardship.

This coming Saturday he will be crowned King in the name of God. As he is anointed with sacred Holy Oils, he will promise before God, this nation and the Commonwealth to uphold our traditions and to work tirelessly, as he has always done, for the common good.

King Charles has been and remains a visionary. Since the 1970s he has promoted organic farming and recognised a need for better stewardship of the world and our resources. The Prince’s Trust has linked enterprise with the environment. At the Trust’s heart is a belief that every young person should have the chance to succeed with employment linked to sustainability, and that communities are supported by empowering their youth.

King Charles’ vision is aspirational on a societal level with a wholeness to his approach. Heritage, conservation, education, health and well being and social inclusion work in concert with the environment and countryside. His approach to vernacular, regional architecture has been to build buildings that build communities.

These values are at the heart of his Christian faith but the King has also recognised that this wisdom and beauty is to be found amongst people of all faiths and none however they are called or inspired.

View from the quire screen east towards the High Altar, Westminster Abbey

King Charles will be crowned at Westminster Abbey seated on the Coronation chair. The chair was commissioned by King Edward I as a ‘relic case’ to house the Stone of Scone, an ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy. The stone was captured by King Edward I in 1296, and together with the chair has been central to coronation ceremonies in England and the United Kingdom ever since.

The chair would have originally been highly decorated by King Edward I’s royal painter, Walter of Durham. Much of the chair would have been gilded. The original gilding can be discerned in the surviving patterns of birds and plants.

The Coronation Chair is the oldest piece of furniture in the United Kingdom still used for its original purpose. It has been altered over the centuries. Take for example the four gilt lions representing England added in the early 16th century. The graffiti on the back of the chair was the work of Westminster schoolboys and visitors to the Abbey in the 18th and 19th centuries.

HM King Charles III’s Coronation will look to the past as we celebrate and embrace the future proclaiming God Save the King!

Images courtesy of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey.

Archive gives insight into Edward VIII’s Abdication

The archive of Sir Albert George Allen, the Duke of Windsor’s solicitor during the period of the abdication

An archive of material collected and compiled by Sir Albert George Allen (1888-1956), relating to his time as Edward VIII’s solicitor during the period of the abdication, has just been sold at Toovey’s. It was a collection which resonates with our own times.

Discovered by Toovey’s Director, Nick Toovey, the archive included Allen’s ‘Confidential Notes’,  a silver cigarette case with presentation inscription to Allen from the Duke of Windsor, two fine linen handkerchiefs, Christmas cards and a pair of 9ct gold cufflinks.

Sir Albert George Allen’s archive and objects came directly from him by family descent to the specialist Paper Collectables auction at Toovey’s. The collection was sold in five lots totalling £6380.

The manuscript notes and minutes taken by Allen during meetings with Edward in the course of the events leading up to the King’s abdication were accompanied by typed-up versions, a letter from King George VI, Christmas cards and photographs of related interest.

The ‘Confidential Notes’ from the days preceding the abdication detailed telephone conversations and meetings with eminent persons, the handling of the press, a radio broadcast, and hint at the importance Edward placed on retaining the H.R.H. title for himself and Wallis.

A black and white photograph of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor signed to the card mount by both sitters, inscribed ‘To A.G. Allen’ and dated 1946 in ink

The letter from King George VI to ‘Dear Allen’ and dated January 10th 1943 thanks the recipient ‘for sending the very clear statement of the Duke of Kent’s affairs’ and continues that the King hopes ‘it will be possible to find some way of augmenting the Duchess’s income’.

Sir Albert George Allen was educated at North Malvern School. During the Great War he served as Captain and Brigade Major. He was twice mentioned in despatches and was awarded the D.S.O. and the Military Cross. In 1930 he jointly founded the law firm Allen and Overy. He was nicknamed ‘Poker Face’ by the then King Edward VIII as they worked together through the political upheaval resulting from his decision to marry Wallis Simpson.

Objects have the ability to powerfully connect us with, and bring to life, important moments in the history of our nation and it is always a privilege to discover and accompany them at the salerooms. It was the insights and tangible connection to Edward VIII’s abdication provided by Sir Albert George Allen’s archive which captured the attention of historians and collectors.

The Second Great Elizabethan Age Draws to a Close

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, by Sir Cecil Beaton

As I write this I am aware of a deep sense of gratitude and thanksgiving amongst the people of Sussex for the life and reign of HM Queen Elizabeth II who has been our constant point of reference in a period of unprecedented change over some seventy years. We have been blessed to live in the second great Elizabethan age.

In the aftermath of the Second World War Britain’s relative success in rebuilding was expressed in the mood of conservatism prevalent in the 1950s. This was reflected in the seemingly timeless and unchanging imagery of Elizabeth II’s coronation ceremony captured in Cecil Beaton’s portrait of the Queen. For the first time the Coronation was watched on television.

The Queen’s Christian faith was a cornerstone of her life and reign. It informed her sense of calling to the role of monarch and the qualities of service, respect and duty through which she blessed us all.
Speaking about her life the Queen reflected “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!”

A young Royal family at Balmoral

During her long reign she affirmed what is best in our national life and tended to those in need. Together we shared her joys and sorrows as she shared ours. Reconciliation, too, was a defining quality of her reign. Here was a monarch able to bring reconciliation to her peoples as witnessed in Northern Ireland.
Queen Elizabeth II’s long reign was also shaped by her family. A photograph from 1957 of The Queen and Prince Philip with the young Prince Charles and Princess Anne shows a family happy and at ease at Balmoral.

Her faithful life provided a hope-filled, generous example to us all defined by love, service, respect, duty and courage. She said “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.”

As the second great Elizabethan age draws to a close our hopes and the life of our nation rest with her son, HM King Charles III. As we hold him and his family in prayer we proclaim Long Live the King! God Save the King!

Toovey’s offer our sincere condolences to HM King Charles III and his family on the loss of HM Queen Elizabeth II. We will be closed on Monday 19th September as a mark of respect.

HRH Prince Philip

The Naval officer, HRH Prince Philip

Rarely has our nation’s common story, our long island history, our values of duty and service been as eloquently upheld as through the lives of HM Queen Elizabeth II and her husband HRH Prince Philip.

The Queen and Prince Philip have been bound up not only with the nation’s life but with our own lives as individuals. Together we have shared their joys and sorrows as they have shared ours. Together, here in Sussex and across the United Kingdom, we hold The Queen and her family in our hearts and our prayers as we mourn the loss of Prince Philip.

HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh has been the longest serving Royal Consort in history. His strength of character enabled a life of service supporting The Queen throughout her long reign and his family, at the heart of the nation and the Commonwealth.

Separated from his family in his youth through revolution and his mother’s illness he came to live with his Mountbatten relatives in England. He studied under the Jewish educational pioneer Kurt Hahn in Germany and then in Scotland at Gordonstoun after Hahn had fled the Nazis. He later claimed that Hahn was the inspiration for the remarkable Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme which continues to encourage young people to challenge themselves and grow as individuals.

He first met the young Princess Elizabeth at the Britannia Royal Naval College where he was charged to escort both her and Princess Margaret.

With the war looming his family encouraged him into the Royal Navy. He played an important role as the officer in charge of HMS Valiant’s searchlights at the Battle of Cape Matapan in 1941 and was mentioned in dispatches. By the October of 1942 he was one of the youngest lieutenants in the Royal Navy aboard HMS Wallace.

Prince Philip was invited to stay with the Royal Family on a number of occasions. He and Princess Elizabeth corresponded and their affection for each other grew. In 1946 Prince Philip asked George VI for his daughter’s hand in marriage. They were married in 1947 at Westminster Abbey.

He was given his first command of the sloop HMS Magpie in 1950. In 1951 he took leave from the Royal Navy to support his wife as the King’s deteriorating health meant increasing Royal duties.

Elizabeth acceded to the throne upon her father’s death in 1952 and was crowned in 1953.

HM Queen Elizabeth II, HRH Prince Philip with the young Prince Charles and Princess Anne in 1957

Photographs can give such an insight into a moment in time. The portrait of HRH Prince Philip in naval uniform provides a glimpse of the energy and vigour which would define his life. The photograph from 1957 of The Queen and Prince Philip with the young Prince Charles and Princess Anne shows a family happy and at ease.

Prince Philip’s passion for creating opportunity for individuals, conservation, his ability to embrace and lead change, his excitement in science, technology and industry remained undiminished.

Throughout his life he pressed on regardless of undoubted challenges serving his Queen, his family and the nation with unswerving service and duty born out of faith. And it is to this example that we must look as our nation emerges from the challenges of Covid-19.

There’s a Power in Love

A view from Chantry Hill on the Sussex Downs
A view from Chantry Hill on the Sussex Downs

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.

The Revd. Rupert Toovey watching the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex
The Revd. Rupert Toovey watching the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

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.