Monday, February 6, 2012

Queen Elizabeth II: Sixty Years of Service

It was on this date in 1952 that King George VI, suffering from cancer and exhausted after heroically leading Britain and its Empire through World War II, died in his sleep at Sandringham. His daughter, proclaimed Queen that day, has now reigned for sixty years as Queen Elizabeth II, only the second British monarch to reach this milestone. It is hard to come up with an original or adequately extensive tribute to add to the many being expressed today. So I will simply say that I, though alas not technically one of Elizabeth II's millions of subjects, consider myself one at heart and regard the Queen as by far the most inspiring example of public service in the world today. In six decades she has never failed to do her best to serve her various realms, which include not only the United Kingdom but also Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many other smaller countries (mostly in the Caribbean) around the world. With a schedule that would wear out most people a generation younger but shows no real sign of relaxing even at the age of 85, the Queen always has a smile for everyone, with a warmth (perhaps increased in her old age) that clearly delights the innumerable people from all walks of life with whom she comes into contact.

As my own Rector Bishop Anthony Burton points out at his blog, this dedication to service as expressed in HM's new Diamond Jubilee Message is rooted in her own deep Christian faith, a faith which in this secular age she is not shy to express. Today's anniversary with its reminder of her beloved father's death is inevitably tinged with melancholy for the Queen, who observed it with a visit to a school in Norfolk among other activities. But the Diamond Jubilee Year of 2012 promises to be a joyful one, culminating in a weekend of celebrations in London in June which I for one cannot wait to attend. As sung in Benjamin Britten's superlative arrangement of Britain's National Anthem, God Save the Queen!

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