Queen's reign has been driven by Divine guidance
Published 10/06/2013 | 09:34
It was no surprise that this week's religious service to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen's Coronation was held in Westminster Abbey.
This has long been the place for historic Royal coronations, weddings and funerals, and it was the obvious setting for this anniversary service.
However, there were differences, compared to 60 years ago. One of the guests was a 'lollipop lady', and the ceremony reflected a United Kingdom that today seems much more at ease with the concept of multi-faiths and different community backgrounds.
Nevertheless, there is little doubt that the anniversary service was particularly special to the Queen because she is a committed Christian, and a church is exactly the right place to recall her anointing 60 years ago.
One of the guests at this week's service was also present at the Coronation, and she recalled how vulnerable the Queen looked back then. "The Queen was dressed in this lovely pure white cotton shift for the anointing. She looked wonderfully composed and serene, and that I found very moving," she said.
Since then the Queen has ruled with dignity and with an exemplary sense of duty and service. Yet, her reign has reflected something even deeper than these fine qualities. She has served as a monarch who believes that she was called by God to carry out such an extraordinary task, and for so long.
Her feckless Uncle Edward, later the Duke of Windsor, would have turned out to be a very different monarch compared to his dutiful brother Albert who served nobly as King George VI and imbued his daughter Elizabeth with such regal qualities.
So the Queen has every right to believe that she was called by God to such an unexpected and special role. She has ruled, not through a concept of Divine Right, like so many of her predecessors, but through Divine guidance, and it shows. As the head of a large extended family, she has had to withstand many trials and tribulations, and not least through the life and death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
However, she has coped with every challenge, and in doing so she has popularised the monarchy. She has also retained the sense of mystery which makes her role still so alluring, in our modern age when people want everything explained, and eventually dissected to the point of destruction.
It is inconceivable that she could have done this without a special inner core of belief in the rightness of her role, and she has also paid tribute to the essential teachings of the Church in living by Christian standards, and yet not ramming religion down people's throats.
It is no surprise either that the Queen has charmed countless people around the globe. Some years ago my family and I watched her visit a suburb of Christchurch in New Zealand and the welcome for her then was as warm as any other of her visits.
There is no doubt that she has the stature and humanity to cross divisions that would have proved to be insuperable barriers to lesser people, and she did this magnificently during her state visit to the Republic of Ireland.
The Queen has been with us for so long that most people cannot remember or imagine life without her. This week's 60th anniversary of her Coronation was a timely reminder that she has been one of the truly outstanding monarchs of British or any other country's history. She really is that special.
Archbishop of Canterbury
No need to always dress to impress
A recent Times picture of the jogging Archbishop of Canterbury made Dr Welby look like an ordinary, though sweating, man in the street.
However it also made him look more real.
I think that those tall Anglican hats (some of the Irish wear them too) look just plain silly.
Let's bring the churches closer to the people, without all this dressing up.
Presbyterians hold historic meeting
The new Presbyterian Moderator Dr Rob Craig was launched at the General Assembly's historic meeting in Londonderry this week.
As I predicted, there was some heart-searching about the Scottish Presbyterians' decision to allow “liberal” congregations to call an actively “gay” minister.
Inevitably the Irish Presbyterians passed a complex resolution ruling it out here.