This is a copy of the short talk Shirley Jeffery gave at Emmanuel at our Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving marking the death and Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Sunday 11 September 2022. I’ve often joked that Shirley has been our ‘Royal Correspondent’ given the times she has spoken about the Queen at various celebrations, such as her 90th Birthday and her Platinum Jubilee. Shirley has now gone into retirement! The Bible reading was Revelation 21:1-7. This is a copy of the service sheet Service of commemoration – 11 September 2022
Several times before today I have stood here to speak about the life and service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. They have been happy times, times of celebration – her 90th Birthday and Jubilees. The latest just a few short months ago when we celebrated her Platinum Jubilee; a first for a reigning British Monarch. Today is a more sombre occasion – one we all knew must come but which has still shocked and saddened us.
But let’s look back to some of those highlights of her life we remembered on those earlier occasions.
Born on 21st April 1926 Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was the much loved first child of Prince Albert and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon – the Duke and Duchess of York. Her grandfather was king – King George V and his heir was her Uncle David – his eldest son. Elizabeth would be a minor royal pursuing the life she loved with her horses and dogs and a few royal duties. But all that was to change following her grandfather’s death when her Uncle David -now Edward VIII – abdicated to marry an American divorcee – Wallis Simpson – saying that he could not carry out the duties of king without the help of the woman he loved by his side.
Suddenly the life of Elizabeth was turned upside down.
Her father was now king and she at just 10 years of age was heir to the throne. It is reported that she, horrified at the thought, prayed earnestly for a baby brother, who under the prevailing laws, would have taken precedent over her and so follow her father to the throne. When this prayer was not answered, she gradually came to accept the role fate had marked out for her. Broadcasting from South Africa on her 21st birthday she said that:
My whole life, whether it be long of short, shall be dedicated to your service and the service of our great imperial family.
Two months later her engagement to Philip Mountbatten was announced and in November they married in Westminster Abbey. Phillip was a naval officer and for the early years of their marriage they were stationed in Malta and enjoyed a life that was to be the most relaxed period of their marriage.
With George VI health giving cause for concern Phillip resigned his naval career in order to support his wife, and they returned to London.
Again, her life was turned upside down.
In November 1948 their first child Prince Charles was born. Followed in 1950 by his sister Princess Anne.
The king died on February 6th 1952 and Princess Elizabeth on tour in Africa, was Queen.
So, in a heartbeat Elizabeth’s life was once again turned upside down.
She was crowned on 2 June 1953. This was probably the first major event to be televised and was watched in thousands of homes, including my own, on the ‘box in the corner’.
There were many new, and sometimes arduous duties to undertake and often the couple were separated from their 2 young children for extended periods. However, the couple were determined to extend their family and in 1960 and again in 1964 the Queen gave birth to a son – first Andrew and then Edward. Her family was now complete.
As their family grew-up Elizabeth and Phillip were often away or busy with royal duties.
Throughout this time the queen, although a traditionalist, began to embrace some changes – in 1970 whilst on a visit to Australia she undertook the first royal ‘walkabout’. (Much later encouraged by younger members of her family she used a computer and mobile phone!)
Her family remained very important to her. Her children were all to marry but she was greatly saddened when three of these marriages broke down. Charles and Diana, Anne and Mark Phillips, and Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. Charles and Anne were to go on to each marry for a second time.
In 2002 she suffered 2 significant bereavements with the deaths of first her sister Margaret and then the following month her mother.
On a happier note she celebrated her Golden Jubilee.
In November 2007, the Queen and Prince Phillip celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary and a month later she becomes the UKs oldest reigning monarch – surpassing Queen Victoria.
Through the next 15 years her grandson William marries Catherine Middleton; She opens the London Olympics – who will ever forget her ‘parachuting’ into the Olympic Stadium; her great grandchildren are born, and “Gan-Gan” adores spending time with them; Prince Phillip retires; she is the first monarch to celebrate a sapphire jubilee; she and Phillip are married for 70 years.
There were still more sadness’s she had to bear with Andrew and Harry being suspended from official royal duties. And then the biggest blow of all as Prince Phillip ‘my rock’ dies.
Through all of this – good times and bad the Queen never doubted her faith and increasingly in her Christmas Broadcasts bore witness to the strength she drew from this faith. In her Golden Jubilee address she said:
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.
Our Bible reading today is a message of hope
- new heaven and a new earth
- God’s dwelling place is among his people
- These words are trustworthy and true
- I will give water from the spring of the water of life
- The victorious will inherit all of this
- I will be their God and they will be my people
And in the middle of this, those wonderful words of promise and reassurance “Behold I am making everything new”.
We have seen many changes over the last few days
- A new Prime Minister
- New Government ministers
- The death of our Queen who has served us for 70 years
- The beginning of a new reign
In the midst of the change, the expectation, and the uncertainty let’s stay faithful and thankful that we have a God who can make everything new.
So, we pay tribute this morning to our Queen who died peacefully at Balmoral on Thursday 9 September 2022. Our Queen who, as she promised, “dedicated her whole life to our service”.
We give thanks to God for that life of service, and we say now as she would want us to “God save the King”.