The words of the Prince of Wales found an echo in my heart, as I’m sure they did for many.
“And while I will grieve her loss, I also feel incredibly grateful.”
The world has been truly blessed to have had seventy years of her consistent, shining example.
But what was it that drew the hearts of so many to not only honour her as Queen, but to love her? Even those who may not support the idea of a monarchy or may not approve of what she represents have spoken with respect and admiration about her person and character.
Beauty and regal splendour surrounded her. She had dignity and poise, but it was neither a cold dignity, nor a detached poise. She combined elegance with humility, service with compassion, and wisdom with warmth. Duty was entered into with joy, and the strength and integrity she modelled was blended with her ready wit and good humour.
She upheld for us all a standard of something seemingly forgotten. Virtues from a previous age.
Her love for all people was evident.
This was not merely her own love but, as she spoke about in her Christmas broadcast 2011, “. . . the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord”.
“For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace,…is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.” (The Queen, 2014).
She had lived her life knowing the love of God and trusting in her Saviour, Jesus Christ.
She often spoke of Jesus of Nazareth as an example to follow in His life of service and giving to others. Yet she knew He was not merely a great example.
“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.” (The Queen, 2011).
As she lived her life, devoted to her God, and speaking with Him daily in prayer, her life became increasingly a reflection of God’s love and God’s goodness.
She bestowed that goodness and love on the nation and perhaps we didn’t realise the hope it gave us.
Many have confessed to being surprised by the depth of their emotion on the announcement of the Queen’s passing.
We feel bereft. It is truly the end of an era and without doubt a monumental historic moment.
But beyond that there is a greater loss. She embodied something bigger.
Many have abandoned the idea of God. Living a life close to God is seen as archaic, yet the life lived out by the Queen should give us pause.
She credited her long life to God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to her. The love and compassion, strength and integrity, goodness and kindness, peace and joy the world witnessed came from her God, whom she loved and served.
And it flowed out to those around her.
As she said of Jesus in 1975, “His simple message of love has been turning the world upside down ever since. He showed that what people are and what they do, does matter and does make all the difference.”
“Good spreads outwards,” she noted (1976).
In 1939 as the country was entering into war, a young Elizabeth handed her father a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins and he included it in his Christmas Day broadcast that year.
“I said to the Man at the gate of the year
Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."
And he replied, "Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."
Today, as we look at the world around us, the future seems dark and foreboding.
Perhaps we should take to heart the wise advice of Queen Elizabeth to "Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God".
The world has witnessed a lifetime of Queen Elizabeth living before them with strength, love and dignity, and it is telling that on the occasion of her 90th birthday she again called on us to reflect on the words of this poem (The Servant Queen and the King she serves, 2016).
She would assure us, with the experience of a lifetime, that "that shall be better to you than light, and safer than a known way."