Like many of you, I found out the deeply sad news of the death of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II on the 8th September 2022.
As a writer, my immediate reaction is to process this enormous void and difficult change with words. In my heart, I feel a deep grief at all this nation, and the world, has lost. All that Elizabeth represented: her character, warmth, servant-heartedness, wisdom, faith, leadership, steadiness, tact, and so much more, will never be realised in the same way again. She lived her long life fulfilling the vow she made on her 21st birthday as Princess Elizabeth:
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 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. Princess Elizabeth, 21 April 1947
As a Christian, I grieve the loss of her faith in leading this country and her commitment to following her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, through her life. Her Christmas broadcasts every year were a reminder to a watching world of the King that she followed:
“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… 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”. (Christmas message, 2011)
I also rejoice that she is now in heaven with the King that she served so faithfully and I think of her example as I live my daily life, committed to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She knew who it was that she was serving, who she was representing and that she was an ambassador for Christ. I imagine she would be the first to acknowledge that she was a sinner in need of a Saviour – that she was not perfect. But she knew and lived in the grace and forgiveness of Jesus, who pardoned her from sin.
As a British citizen, I am painfully aware of her absence. She has been with so many of us throughout our lives, appearing on coins, postage stamps, in television broadcasts, newspaper articles, ceremonies, history books. Her face is instantly recognisable, as is her voice. There is a warmth and comfort in her reassuring messages, and it is hard to believe that she is not here to lead us in this time of mourning.
As a Norfolk girl, I feel nostalgic as I think upon my Norfolk roots. I will be visiting home soon, at a time when the nation is grieving. The Sandringham estate (where the Queen would have Christmas), was not too far from where I grew up. I would visit Sandringham House, walking around it, imagining that I owned the place. I thought what it would be like to be a real princess, living in a palace with large rooms, and bigger gardens to run free in. The Queen would often take the train from King’s Lynn to King’s Cross station, which is the same train that I always use to get home.
As a granddaughter, I reflect upon the loss of my own Nan who passed away two years ago. The Queen became a grandmother to the nation in many ways, and my family always felt that our Nan looked like the Queen. It has brought fresh memories and resurfaced feelings of my own grief as a granddaughter. At this time of mourning, my heart goes to King Charles III, who has lost his mother, along with Princess Anne, Prince Edward and Prince Andrew. Not forgetting her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was deeply loved, and I am sure many will be grieving their own losses at this time.
Going forward, with a new King on the throne, a new era unfolding and the close of another, I will be following in the steps of our former Sovereign. In the ordinary days, and the many quiet, unnoticed ways in which she served, I will seek to do the same in obedience and reverence to Jesus. I will be praying for King Charles III as he leads this country, and that he will come to know Jesus, like his mother before Him. Prayers for the UK and the wider world in this new season are needed too.
For Christians we have the confident and certain hope that our God is on the throne. His promises never fail and His truth is displayed in creation, just like the rainbows that appeared over Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace shortly after the Queen’s death was announced. As I shared on social media:
‘After a lifetime of service to her people and her country, she can now rest in the peace and presence of her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, forever.’
Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022)
“I know just how much I rely on my own faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. 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. Like others of you who draw inspiration from your own faith, I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.” (Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas message, 2002)
Read my older post ‘The Queen’s Hope’ for more reflections on her life and faith.