In June we will all have an opportunity to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen. She is the longest serving British Monarch and throughout her reign has frequently acknowledged her faith and trust in God to guide her. Whether we are supporters of the Monarchy or would favour a republic; whether we are people of faith or agnostic, I think most of us would acknowledge that Queen Elizabeth has been true to the vow made when just 25 when she acceded to the throne in February 1952. This was “to faithfully serve God and her people all the days of her life.”
The coronation took 14 months to prepare, overseen by the Duke of Edinburgh. As we reflect on all the pomp and ceremonial at Westminster Abbey on 2nd June 1953, there were two events that are easily overlooked. One was the presentation of a Bible to the Queen after she took the coronation oath. Having said she would perform and keep the things she had promised – “so help me God” she kissed the Bible. Then, in assisting the Archbishop of Canterbury, the moderator of the Church of Scotland said “… we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing this world affords.”
Secondly, after receiving communion, the next part of the ceremony was not televised at the request of the Queen. A golden canopy held by four Knights of the Garter was brought forward, suspended above and around the monarch. She had her jewellery and crimson cape removed and wore a simple white linen dress. Then the Archbishop, assisted by the Dean of Westminster, anointed the Queen with oil for service to others. It was a very humble, personal, and private moment between her and her God.
The Queen’s life has not been easy but, even in her “annus horribilis” of 1992, she acknowledged that prayers and God’s word had sustained her through all these years. We, too, can learn from her example as we celebrate this Platinum Jubilee.
Can we rediscover for ourselves that we can turn to the “most valuable thing that this world affords” – the Bible – for God’s direction and wisdom. Then we could echo the words of the Queen in 2018 “through the many changes I have seen ... faith, family and friendship have been a constant and a source of personal comfort and reassurance.”