A reflection from Bishop Alan, ahead of the funeral of Her Majesty the Queen

Reflections before the funeral of our late Queen Elizabeth

We have witnessed the end of a most remarkable life. Key to that life, I believe, was the inspiring promise made on her 21st birthday, back in 1947, when the young Princess Elizabeth made clear her intentions: “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.”

Who would have thought that fulfilling this promise would involve a reign that stretched for 70 years, thus becoming the longest serving monarch in our history?

Who would have imagined that the late Queen would have visited 117 countries, travelling over one million miles in keeping that promise?

Who would have believed that Queen Elizabeth would still be working to make good that vow just two days before she died at the age of 96?

Anointed with oil at her coronation for the vocation from God that opened up before her much sooner than anyone could have imagined, Queen Elizabeth has inspired generations. It’s no surprise that people have felt drawn to churches from Great Yarmouth to King’s Lynn, from Harleston to Sheringham, to sign books of condolence, to offer a prayer, to reflect quietly, and in myriad ways to pay their respects to a life so well-lived.

In seeking to pay tribute and to honour our late Queen, each of us might do well to ponder our own vocation, our own calling in life. For what do we wish to be remembered, and what steps do we need to take to make our lives a blessing to others, in the way that the long life of service of our late Queen has been a blessing to so many.

Our lives may not involve such a well-known and far-reaching promise, nor the pomp and ceremony that surrounds the monarch, but we can draw inspiration from a life of devoted and unstinting service to others. In committing ourselves afresh to the service of others with whatever gifts we’ve be given, by God’s grace, we would be making the most fitting tribute to the remarkable life of our late Queen.

May God bless you richly.

+ Alan Thetford