The party is in full swing. The shops are full of flags and souvenirs to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth the second. Street Parties have been planned, events are too many to choose from, but soon all the tidbits in the shops will be gone, flags taken down, bunting packed away, the streets swept cleaned, the river will be back to normal and so too will life.
It’s easy to forget the honour and duty that shaped a young woman making her pledge to the nation at the young age of twenty-one. Her brave words spoken with conviction always give me pause for thought. For I wonder, how many young people of that tender age make declarations and are unable, or unwilling to follow through? Despite the changes throughout the years, from the early 1950’s when England still had rationing, to the new century we live in with high-speed internet and high-speed trains, she has remained constant.
She has been my Queen all my life, and I do claim her as my Queen, although she belongs to the nation and the commonwealth, history, her family, and her subjects. She has been a steadfast source of stability in my life.
Her young voice broadcast on radio after her coronation might have shown the tenderness of her youth, but it did not reveal the inner strength and steadfastness she possessed to endure as a leader of our nation through some twelve prime ministers.
Perhaps this is an unashamedly patriotic posting, but I stand in awe of her hard work and her dedication, and know full well that I could not have done half as well as she has. I do not possess her strength, her calm, and certainly not her poise during difficult times.
I sang God Save the Queen every morning at school, and her portrait hung in every classroom. Her image was on my money, and although I did not dwell on her presence, or the royalty for that matter, she has been a constant feature in the times of immense change. She is encouragingly reassuring by always being there, always remaining dedicated to our nation and commonwealth. Prime ministers, Presidents, world leaders have come and gone, but she has remained, bringing the country together, helping us define ourselves as a nation.
Prince Charles in a recent television programme spoke about the physical weight of the crown and how his mother, the Queen, had to practice wearing it just to get used to its immense weight. He speaks of his mother coming to check on them in the bath, wearing the crown, and he laughs with tenderness at this memory. But I wonder, does anyone ever get used to the weight of a nation upon their head? I think not. It is a daunting task, and yet one I think she has done with excellence.
I can’t imagine life without her presence. Christmas has always officially started after listening to her message of hope and prayer for the world and our nation. She inspired a nation with her words upon hearing her of father’s death and her new role as Queen. They say actions define a person, but I also believe words can too. I leave you with those words, words that our Queen meant when she said them as a young woman of twenty-one, and words that she has lived up to.
An excerpt from the Queen’s Twenty-First Birthday Speech.
“Will you, the youth of the British family of nations, let me speak on my birthday as your representative? Now that we are coming to manhood and womanhood it is surely a great joy to us all to think that we shall be able to take some of the burden off the shoulders of our elders who have fought and worked and suffered to protect our childhood.
We must not be daunted by the anxieties and hardships that the war has left behind for every nation of our commonwealth. We know that these things are the price we cheerfully undertook to pay for the high honour of standing alone, seven years ago, in defence of the liberty of the world. Let us say with Rupert Brooke: “Now God be thanked who has matched us with this hour”.
I am sure that you will see our difficulties, in the light that I see them, as the great opportunity for you and me. Most of you have read in the history books the proud saying of William Pitt that England had saved herself by her exertions and would save Europe by her example. But in our time we may say that the British Empire has saved the world first, and has now to save itself after the battle is won.
I think that is an even finer thing than was done in the days of Pitt; and it is for us, who have grown up in these years of danger and glory, to see that it is accomplished in the long years of peace that we all hope stretch ahead.
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.”