FRIENDS AT HOME AND ABROAD are telling me that the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations are “heartening”. I think so too. But why? Why do millions of people around the world hold Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in such extraordinarily high esteem? Perhaps because Queen Elizabeth is so much more than “just” a national figurehead; perhaps because millions recognise exemplary qualities of commitment and devotion to service in the Queen, and in Prince Philip. The “privilege” to which members of the Royal Family are undoubtedly born is, at best, I think, a mixed blessing. Someone said during the Jubilee Concert tonight that Her Majesty’s present day workload puts most of us decidedly in the shade.
I think, though, that the chief reason that Her Majesty the Queen is loved and admired all over the world is that she literally gives heart to millions – daily helping individuals and nations to believe in the graces and strengths and qualities that are just waiting to be drawn out of them. And the Queen gives heart by drawing disparate peoples together, and by 60 years worth of paying careful and interested attention to demonstrations and expressions of their own contributions to a wider good – though she, of all people, must surely “have seen it all before”. Her Majesty drew people together in Bramhall yesterday who have never met her in person, but who – believing in the good that she represents – wanted to celebrate with friends and neighbours, sharing worship, sandwiches, good old songs, and jelly and ice cream.
Her Majesty’s outlook on life is an inclusive and respectful outlook. The Queen patently aspires to peace and well being for all peoples. The cheers that were sounded in her capital city tonight – for Her Majesty and for the hospitalized Duke of Edinburgh – will, I hope, have given strengthening and sustaining heart to a good and faithful monarch who still leads us, by quiet and gracious example, into what I earnestly pray will be a more peace-loving future for the nations of the world. I shall be “present in spirit” at the national service of Thanksgiving tomorrow morning – and I’m especially proud and delighted that millions of men, women and children of goodwill, representing other nations and many faith traditions from around the globe, will stand shoulder to shoulder. In “heartening” one another in this way we’ll affirm our desire to follow a supremely fine example.