Below is the text of a reflection on the life of Queen Elizabeth II, by Tim Smalley, given during the Church Service in her memory on Sunday.
It is a great honour to say a few words about the Queen today. We are in a solemn period in which we can consider and give thanks and grieve, if need be,
for the life of our late Queen.
I am astonished at the extraordinary events and manoeuvres that have been going on with such ceremony, professionalism and gravity and efficiency over the last week. The inclusivity of it all. The outpouring of emotions both sad and appreciative. There are huge numbers of people ensuring all works well and safely. All these people involved are not just happy to be involved, they are insisting that they should do their bit. I went to London last week and saw first-hand the battalions of police and helpers who are willingly giving of their time and forgoing their comforts to make this week such a success.
She did not, as far as I Know, visit Lowick often. And many of us are somewhat surprised by our reaction to the death of the Queen. It is interesting to wonder why.
She was a very uncomplicated person. She was born into a loving family, did not go to school which we all rather envy, she married, had children and got on with her job and her duties and died at the grand old age of 96. All at the appropriate time. This is what people do.
But while living a normal life she became the head of our state somewhat unexpectedly at the age of 25. That meant she was the figurehead of our country and its entire system. The beauty of our monarchy is that it produces one person who can be trusted above all else as they have no commercial or political interests to cater for.
When she became queen, she swore to serve her country until the end. Which she did. The world was in flux after two world wars and a complete rearrangement of the world order. To many millions of Britons she provided a guiding light during this time with her steadfast indomitability.
She did this by displaying wisdom, integrity, decency, generosity, patience, compassion, humility and love. Added to this was her sense of humour, the twinkling in her eye that so many people saw and her ability to see the funny side of life. And there was her work ethic. To fulfil her promise to serve us, the British people, to the end. She never stopped and she never shirked her duties.
It is not an overstatement to say that if we follow her example in all these we would all live happier and fuller lives. And when things got tough and some of us doubted that the world would continue to go round she reassured us that we should just keep going and that all would be well in the end. Which it usually was.
She also had huge interests and a naturally inquiring nature. I was a minor supplier to one area of her life’s interests – horses. The stories you heard from the people who worked for her about her involvement were always fascinating. Often when she went up to Sandringham, I am told, rather than open the big house up for a weekend she would just stay in a farm house in the middle of the stable yard so that she
could look out onto her horses and greet them in the morning and look at them last thing at night. I learnt that she had a full time royal pigeon keeper. There was a loft on the Sandringham estate and to get to see the pigeons she had to walk through his house. Which she did often.
As the figurehead of our nation she demonstrated great humility as well as the ability to walk with kings.
So, if we are looking for reasons why we are surprised at how much we mourn her loss, they are not hard to find. All these wonderful values, which are values for all time, are the reason that we will miss her, not just as a head of state but as an example of a wonderful human being.
Her place in history is assured. For her steadfast leadership through this vast duration of time that her reign as queen encompassed. For the enormously constructive relationships, she has built up around the world for the country. And for her preservation and enhancement of the monarchy that it can so seamlessly continue with the next generations of her family that are so well prepared for the future.
As we bid farewell tomorrow we will enjoy and take part in the glorious funeral celebrations that she has espoused and approved of for so long. The world will watch agog and with wonder that so many people turn out to witness Our Queen being taken to her final resting place. But we all know why.
Tomorrow we will say farewell to a proper lady who nobly took on a vast and uncertain role and fulfilled the promise she gave through 70 glorious years.