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Monday, 6 February 2012

The King is dead; long live the Queen!

It was, as most folk will be aware, sixty years ago today that George VI died peacefully in his sleep, and his elder daughter, the princess Elizabeth, automatically became Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Commonwealth of nations that had formerly been the British Empire.

I would not class myself, today, as a fervent Royalist (although I also recognise the problems of a Republic!), but I do have a great respect for the person of Her Majesty.  Throughout her long reign, she has consistently displayed the outstanding qualities of dignity, duty, and a strong sense of responsibility.  She made a vow, all those years ago, to serve her people as best she could, for the rest of her life.  "Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.", she promised.  Would that some of our more modern political figures would emulate her, in that respect!

This morning's Today programme, on BBC Radio 4 (which, regular visitors to this blog will already know is as much a part of my early morning as is the having of my breakfast!!) broadcast an interview with two people.

Reg Turnill was a reporter for the Press Association on the day in 1952 when the new Queen arrived back in the UK from a trip to Kenya, on behalf of her father, and where she had learned of his death. He recalled the events of that day when, he said, the new Queen Elizabeth II handled herself with the "composure than never seemed to have left her since".

Sarah Bradford, the author of Queen Elizabeth II, said that the Queen is the "calm centre" of our lives. The world has changed, she added, but the Queen is still the same "composed and dignified figure."

Had I been interviewed, I would also have made mention of the Queen's Chrismas Day broadcast to the Nation and Commonwealth.  In it she said:

"Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: 'Fear not', they urged, 'we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

'For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.'

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves - from our recklessness or our greed.

God sent into the world a unique person - neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.

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.

In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there's a prayer:
'O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin
And enter in.
Be born in us today.'

It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord."

Now that's definitely a message that earns my respect, regardless of who it is who shares it.  If, and I have no reason to think otherwise, Her Majesty was being absolutely sincere when she spoke those words, then I can only say: "Long live the Queen.  God save the Queen."

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