Go back to normal view
I really couldn’t let this month go by without making reference to HM the Queen’s 90th birthday. The Queen is a remarkable figure. At the age of 89 she continues to carry out royal duties with every sign of being really interested in the struggles and achievements of people she has never met before – which must, surely, sometimes be very difficult! At the age of 21, she made a speech to what was then the “British Commonwealth and Empire” declaring 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”. That dedication has been frequently quoted in recent years, in appreciation of the Queen’s service, and it will doubtless be quoted even more frequently in the coming weeks.
However, when I read the whole of the speech, the text of which can be found on the official website of the British Monarchy, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before. That is, that the then Princess Elizabeth made a particular point of addressing her contemporaries, those who were “born about the same time as myself and have grown up like me in terrible and glorious years of the second world war.” She spoke of the “joy” of feeling able to take some of the burden from the shoulders of “our elders who have fought and worked and suffered to protect our childhood”, and urged her contemporaries to join with her in taking up the task of making the commonwealth “more free, more prosperous, more happy and a more powerful influence for good in the world”. She was urging a communal endeavour, not one for her alone, but one which would only achieve its aims by collective action and energy. Those of us who never knew the years of war perhaps have even more reason to be grateful to those who secured our world, and have, perhaps, an even greater duty to examine our consciences and to consider how we have used our freedom, and how we are continuing to use it. Are we working for a world that is “more free, more prosperous, more happy and a more powerful influence for good”?
We should notice too that the then Princess Elizabeth asked for God’s help in her endeavour: “God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.” We all need God’s help to make good on our best intentions. We can all be assured of God’s blessing as we seek to serve him in our world and in other people. May you know that help and blessing as you, like me, take courage and inspiration from the example of our Queen.
Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!