Our Tribute

A Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Queen Elizabeth II whose faith and service is an inspiration to us all

A Life of Service

On her twenty-first birthday, 21 April 1947, Princess Elizabeth was with her parents and younger sister on a tour of South Africa. In a speech broadcast on the radio from Cape Town, the Princess dedicated her life to the service of the Commonwealth.

On my twenty-first birthday I welcome the opportunity to speak to all the peoples of the British Commonwealth and Empire, wherever they live, whatever race they come from, and whatever language they speak.

Let me begin by saying ‘thank you’ to all the thousands of kind people who have sent me messages of good will. This is a happy day for me; but it is also one that brings serious thoughts, thoughts of life looming ahead with all its challenges and with all its opportunity.

At such a time it is a great help to know that there are multitudes of friends all round the world who are thinking of me and who wish me well. I am grateful and I am deeply moved.

As I speak to you today from Cape Town I am six thousand miles from the country where I was born. But I am certainly not six thousand miles from home. Everywhere I have travelled in these lovely lands of South Africa and Rhodesia my parents, my sister and I have been taken to the heart of their people and made to feel that we are just as much at home here as if we had lived among them all our lives.

That is the great privilege belonging to our place in the world-wide commonwealth – that there are homes ready to welcome us in every continent of the earth. Before I am much older I hope I shall come to know many of them.

If we all go forward together with an unwavering faith, a high courage, and a quiet heart, we shall be able to make of this ancient commonwealth, which we all love so dearly, an even grander thing – more free, more prosperous, more happy and a more powerful influence for good in the world – than it has been in the greatest days of our forefathers.

To accomplish that we must give nothing less than the whole of ourselves. There is a motto which has been borne by many of my ancestors – a noble motto, “I serve”. Those words were an inspiration to many bygone heirs to the Throne when they made their knightly dedication as they came to manhood. I cannot do quite as they did.

But through the inventions of science I can do what was not possible for any of them. I can make my solemn act of dedication with a whole Empire listening. I should like to make that dedication now. It is very simple.

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.

Defined by Faith

Queen Elizabeth II had a strong Christian faith that has been evident throughout her life in her words and deeds. As well as her formal role as ‘Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England’,  her personal faith was evident even before she was crowned.

‘Pray for me … that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.’

That was the prayer request made by Queen Elizabeth II in her first Christmas broadcast in 1952. Her father, King George VI, had died on 6 February 1952. It is clear that this prayer was indeed answered as her wisdom and strength were defining features of her reign which began on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey, London.

The Queen wrote her own Christmas broadcasts to the Commonwealth and she frequently referred to Jesus Christ, whose birth is celebrated at Christmas. Her personal faith in Jesus Christ, shone through every feature of her life and work. As she said in her Christmas broadcast in December 2000:

‘For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life.’

The orb, sceptre, ring and crown used in the ceremony each include a cross to symbolise the rule of Jesus Christ over the world. Even though the crown jewels are set with many of the world’s most valuable gems, a Bible is presented during the coronation and described as ‘the most valuable thing that this world affords’.

The most sacred moment at the heart of the ceremony is the anointing, when the symbols of royal status are removed. The Queen, sitting under a canopy to hide the sacred moment from the cameras, was dressed in a simple white dress with no jewels or crown. As the Archbishop anointed her with oil, the prayers said over her invited God’s Holy Spirit to set her apart as God’s servant. Christians believe that God’s anointing fills his people with his love and empowers them to follow him.

The theme of service runs throughout the coronation and, during the Queen’s long reign, she has been inspired by the sacrificial life of Jesus Christ, who said of himself: he ‘did not come to be served, but to serve’.

In 2008 the Queen said: ‘I hope that, like me, you will be comforted by the example of Jesus of Nazareth who, often in circumstances of great adversity, managed to live an outgoing, unselfish and sacrificial life … He makes it clear that genuine human happiness and satisfaction lie more in giving than receiving; more in serving than in being served.’

The Bible story the Queen refers to most often emphasises this theme of service. In four of her Christmas broadcasts she has talked about the parable Jesus told of a ‘Good Samaritan’.

In 1985 she said the story ‘reminds us of our duty to our neighbour. We should try to follow Christ’s clear instruction at the end of that story: “Go and do thou likewise”.’

In 1989 her reference to the story reflects the influence of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who shared her practical Christian faith and sense of duty. She said, ‘Many of you will have heard the story of the Good Samaritan, and of how Christ answered the question (from a clever lawyer who was trying to catch him out) “who is my neighbour?”.

‘Jesus told of the traveller who was mugged and left injured on the roadside where several important people saw him, and passed by without stopping to help. His neighbour was the man who did stop, cared for him, and made sure he was being well looked after before he resumed his own journey.

In 2004 she returned again to the same parable and, most recently, in her 2020 broadcast on Christmas Eve from Windsor Castle, where she had been isolating with Prince Philip due to the Covid-19 pandemic, she said:

‘We continue to be inspired by the kindness of strangers and draw comfort that – even on the darkest nights – there is hope in the new dawn. Jesus touched on this with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The man who is robbed and left at the roadside is saved by someone who did not share his religion or culture. This wonderful story of kindness is still as relevant today. Good Samaritans have emerged across society showing care and respect for all, regardless of gender, race or background, reminding us that each one of us is special and equal in the eyes of God.’

Throughout her long life, Christ’s example and teaching have been seen acted out in the dutiful and faithful life of our servant-hearted Queen. It is clear that her prayer from the start of her reign was gloriously answered.

Our Institution Remembers

Queen Elizabeth

‘The Great’

The Institution Remembers with Pride and Sorrow

The Late Queen embodied all that was good about our Great Nation and was a shining example to us all. She lived her life and served her period in line with her faith. She was truly a godly monarch and we have been privileged to live in a second Golden Elizabethan Age.

Her steadfast and courageous rule gave this nation much needed stability and continuity as we recovered from the ravages of the Second World and transitioned from Empire to Commonwealth. In her reign the world witnessed seismic changes in society, order, and life. The technological changes, the role of the media, the advance of secularism has left the world unrecognisable, yet throughout it all there was one constant – Queen Elizabeth II.

We pay tribute to her service and the sacrifices she has made in her long reign. It has meant constant media intrusion, a staggering diary of engagements and the heavy weight to responsibilities. Yet she lived by the motto ‘Never Complain Never Explain’ and that stood her in good stead.

In her many visits to Northern Ireland many of our members and friends have had the privilege to see her, ever meet her and these are treasured memories now as we mourne her passing.

A Life of Faith and Service

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