This is an online version of my column for the Billericay & Wickford Gazette.

We are living in some of the saddest days in the life of our nation and Commonwealth as we mourn the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

It is a day we knew would come but hoped it never would. Since Buckingham Palace announced the solemn news on September 8, millions of people across the world have been taking time to reflect on her life and think about the bright light that has finally gone out.

As former Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in his tribute: “In the hearts of every one of us, there is an ache at the passing of our Queen, a deep and personal sense of loss – far more intense, perhaps, than we expected.”

And that’s because, for many of us, Her Majesty has been the only monarch we have known. Prime Minister Liz Truss got it absolutely right when she said: “Britain is the great country it is today because of her.” The Elizabethan age may be over, but her legacy will live on for many generations to come.

Her Majesty has been a wonderful example of service above self during her reign. She gave us, in a world of tumultuous change, a sense of familiarity and stability.

In 1947, at the tender age of twenty-one, she said in a radio broadcast to the nation:

I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial (Commonwealth) family to which we all belong. But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.

Our Queen kept that promise faithfully, as throughout her long reign she demonstrated extraordinary dedication and commitment to duty, performed with grace, strength, dignity and humour. The many tributes which have come pouring in through Parliament and from world leaders, past and present, give testimony to the high regard in which she was held.

Her Majesty demonstrated unswerving service and perseverance throughout her life, and, it goes without saying, that her Christian faith was instrumental to her life of service. As we mourn Her Majesty’s death, we give thanks to God for her life, her faith and her exceptional devotion to her duty as Monarch.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a great Queen, but her greatness comes from the fact that she trusted in an even greater King.

We thank God for Her Majesty’s 70 years of service to the UK and the Commonwealth, for her unwavering leadership and her strong faith. We join the rest of the nation and the world in remembering her with gratitude to God and pray for our new King, Charles III, as he accedes to the throne.

A Prayer:

“Gracious God, we give thanks for the life of your servant Queen Elizabeth, for her faith and her dedication to duty. Bless our nation as we mourn her death and may her example continue to inspire us.

“Give courage to the Royal Family in their loss and sorrow. Be their refuge and strength; reassure them of your continuing love and lift them from the depths of grief into the peace and light of your presence.

We pray for our new King, Charles III. Bless his reign and the life of our nation and Commonwealth. Help us to work together so that truth and justice, harmony and fairness flourish among us. We pray these things through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.