Bishop of London tribute to Queen Elizabeth II: ‘Her Majesty’s deep faith was accompanied by winsome inclusiveness’
Most of us have simply not known life without Her late Majesty the Queen. When she acceded to the throne, the world and the country were both markedly different places.
For 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II was a remarkable constant in the lives of millions – and billions across the Commonwealth. A symbol of unity, strength and resilience, she has been this nation’s unerring heartbeat, through times of progress, joy and celebration, as well as in darker and more turbulent times.
I have been honoured to serve, in recent years, not just as Bishop of London but as Dean of Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal. The Queen often remarked that she drew great comfort in Christ’s teachings throughout her life, and her deep Christian faith continually shone through in an enduring, steadfast commitment to the common good. In 1952, looking forward to the coronation, she said: "I want to ask you all, whatever your religion may be, to pray for me that on that day – to pray 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."
We have lost not only our head of state and monarch, but a living link to a bygone era
Though her own faith was clear for all to see, her approach was one of winsome inclusivity. As Supreme Governor of the Church of England, she pointed to Jesus and how he expanded her capacity to love all people, regardless of their religious faith or belief system.
On the occasions I had the joy of meeting her, I was repeatedly struck by her gentleness, her well-documented good humour and her wonderful way with people. For someone who spent her entire life meeting the public, she still managed to make you feel like the only person in the room.
A hallmark of grief is that it floors us when we least expect it. Many of us thought we were emotionally prepared for the death of the Monarch. And yet, so many have described how taken aback they were by the sheer intensity of emotion they felt upon hearing that first announcement, and since. At this time of national mourning, many of us will be reminded of our own losses. Perhaps, like Her late Majesty the Queen, we were unable to be together to express our grief in the usual manner we have come to expect over the past few years. Perhaps we recognise, etched in the faces of the Royal Family, the earth-shattering pain of coming to terms with the death of a loved one.
We have lost not only our head of state and monarch, but a living link to a bygone era. It is staggering to think that her reign spanned 15 prime ministers with her first, Winston Churchill, born in 1874. Her Majesty’s was a comforting presence; not always visible, and increasingly less so in her later years, but it was reassuring to know that she was there, resolutely carrying out the duty that she pledged to the country and Commonwealth so many years ago.
It will not, and must not, go unnoticed that her final days were spent quietly carrying out that duty. That is how I think she would want to be remembered; unwaveringly devoted to her country, a dedicated public servant, but first and foremost, a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I know that the royal household are in our thoughts and prayers following their inestimable loss.
Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London.
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