In December 1939, Britain had been at war with Germany for 3 months. Only 21 years after the end of the First World war, no one needed to be reminded of the brutal reality and cost of conflict.
At home in London a 13 year-old girl handed her Father the following poem as she thought it would help him in his work:
“I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year
Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied,
“Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light,
and safer than a known way”
Minnie Louise Haskins
The girl was Princess Elizabeth and her father King George VI, he read the poem in his Christmas address and it gave hope and comfort to millions.
I grew up in South West London in the 1980s, my family were not big fans of the monarchy and to me the Queen was someone who was always there. Her face is on our money, her initials on our postboxes, photos of her on the News or in the newspapers.
I love the story of the BFG by Roald Dahl. I think as a little girl I imagined that if I ever came across a big unsolvable problem in the world, I would climb into a Giants ear and go and visit the Queen, who would of course, be able to sort it out…
Now as a mum I am reading those stories to my children. We took the children on a trip round London to visit all the sites mentioned in Paddington Bear – we watched the Changing of the Guard and went to Buckingham Palace (the Royal standard was not flying – the Queen was not at home.)
I now realise that I can tell you where I was for most Royal events in my life time:
I was at a street party with neighbours for Andrew and Fergie’s wedding
I was on Cockermouth high street, when someone told us Princess Beatrice had been born.
I was on the Island of Kos with friends when Princess Diana was killed and watched her funeral from a small old TV in a Greek Taverna.
In 2002 I arrived in Australia for my medical elective. A little jet lagged I was given change in a shop and in my surprise I blurted out:
“oh, look, you have our Queen on your money.”
The Australian shop keeper did not look impressed
Blushing ( and feeling foolish ) I added
“oh, yes she is your Queen too.”
A few days later at church an Australian friend came up to us looking crest fallen to tell us that the Queen Mother had died. People treated us as if we had lost a grand parent.
I think from that moment on my view of the monarchy changed. It was a strange experience watching the funeral procession taking place in my home town of London, through the eyes of an Australian broadcaster. It struck me that the Queen mother had been alive for half the time that Australia had existed as the country we know today.
In recent years I have discovered new things about the Queen:
The Queen is a peacemaker.
The Queen is an extremely hardworking, faithful servant of our country.
The Queen has a brilliant sense of humour. ( If I am feeling down I love to watch the You tube clip of the Queen at the London Olympic opening ceremony, if you have never seen this and you need to laugh, I suggest you watch it here.)
More importantly I discovered that the Queen has a King.
In her 2002 Christmas broadcast in she said:
I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God.. I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.
I no longer believe in giants who will carry me to the Queen to solve big unfixable problems; however I do believe that my Queen will lift the worlds many problems to her King (and mine) in prayer. And I am very grateful.
Happy 90th Birthday Your Majesty
I initially was inspired to share a poem by Good, Beautiful and True who has started Poetry Tea Tuesdays. Click here for more info.
Photo: The Royal Household http://www.royal.uk
For more information about the Queen’s faith: The Servant Queen and the King she serves published by The Bible Society and LICC