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Rev Moira McDonald tribute to Queen Elizabeth II: 'Her Majesty was a woman of faith and openness'

Queen Elizabeth II attending the church of St Peter and St Paul in Norfolk (PA Images/Alamy)

Rev Moira McDonald

3 min read

An overwhelming outpouring of affection has followed the announcement of the death of Her Majesty the Queen.

Stories have been told of meeting the monarch as a young woman and into older age, memories shared of what she was wearing and what she said, and these accounts come from both the great and the good - heads of government and captains of industry and stars of the stage and screen - but also from so-called ordinary people who presented Her Majesty with flowers at the opening of a school or leisure centre, or who showed her around their place of work, or met her when she cut a ribbon or presented them with an award.

Polite, warm, professional, kind, Her Majesty seemed to be able to put nervous people at ease, and pompous people in their place, but always gently, often with humour, amazing and delighting everyone with her interest and knowledge of their work, their homeland, their occupation.

There have been stories told over the last few days of a leader who shared much of the life and the events many have faced at national and personal levels. Memories of Coronation Day, neighbours squeezed into a living room around the newly-bought television set, a young woman juggling the demands of work and family, just as many others did. She was a constant presence as prime ministers were voted out and voted in, as foreign heads of government came and went, as countries changed and wars were fought and peace came, as times and fashions evolved and people tried to work out the new moral highways of the 60s and 70s.

Her Majesty seemed to be able to put nervous people at ease, and pompous people in their place, but always gently

While no one would wish pain or heartache on anyone else, there was a reassuring sense that the “annus horribilis” allowed the worry of mothers and fathers up and down the country to come into the open, for an honesty to come to public discussion, a recognition of what was and needed to be dealt with, rather than what we thought it ought to be and feel ourselves failing.

There was healing after pain and new life after loss, shared laughter and surprise at Her Majesty’s participation in the opening ceremony of the Olympics in 2012 and shared marmalade sandwiches with Paddington at the Platinum Jubilee. Her Majesty’s familiarity showed adaptability, understanding and love.

The formality, the pomp and circumstance of the next few weeks, the questions about how we behave and what might change, are guided by tradition, but also by the memory and presence of Her Majesty, a woman of faith and openness, of growth and adaptability, but growth and adaptability that came from a quiet confidence that rose above fear or worry, that believed and trusted in God and the innate goodness of humanity.

The death of Queen Elizabeth II and the accession of King Charles III is a historic time in our national life, and a time of thought for us as individuals and communities. What do we value? What do we treasure? What brings us quiet strength and reassurance? We have lost a familiar, respected and loved monarch, but we have cause to celebrate and give thanks for a long life, lived in service, but also in tolerance and faith and love.

Rev Moira McDonald was Chaplain to the Queen

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