ON SATURDAY, it was an honour to have the opportunity to offer my condolences and those of my family and constituents to His Majesty the King and the royal family, and to pay tribute to Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Like many others, I was privileged to meet her a number of times, and it was easy to be intimidated by what she was, but never by who she was – with the authority, there was always great warmth.
We have heard many eloquent tributes, but perhaps none has been quite so eloquent as the faces of the people we have all seen on the streets. Those faces show her subjects’ struggle to reconcile the feelings of grief, gratitude and pride that we all share for the life and work of our late Queen. We grieve because of the scale of our national loss but also, more personally, because we relied on her constancy to anchor our own lives, to an extent that many of us are only now beginning to realise. We grieve, too, because we no longer have this remarkable individual fulfilling this uniquely challenging role.
The task of modern monarchy looks impossible—to encapsulate all that is good about a nation and a family of nations; to celebrate its diversity while drawing it together; to be looked to to set the tone at every moment of collective joy and disaster; and to share the best and worst moments of one’s own life with the country and the world. In meeting that challenge, Queen Elizabeth II was a breath taking example of servant leadership for 70 years, making the impossible look effortless and maintaining an irrepressible sense of humour throughout.
It is for that leadership that we feel such gratitude amid our sadness. It was delivered by this most exemplary of British monarchs in the most British of styles, with resilience and dignity and without drama or fuss, with service to others as a primary and persistent vocation, however hard the task or the events of her own life – perhaps not always happy, but always glorious. This was Majesty indeed.
We are proud that we were privileged to live in this second Elizabethan age, and that for so much of our recent history our nation was personified by the monarch we mourn today. Her loss is great, but her legacy is greater: a country, a people and a Commonwealth immeasurably better for her long and faithful service to us all.
The following day I attended several more events that honoured the late Queen and celebrated the new King, including the Warwickshire Proclamation of the Accession of King Charles III, at Market Square, Warwick, the Accession Service at St Mary’s Church and the Proclamation at Kenilworth Castle. These events brought our community together at a time of deep sorrow and also of continuity and hope, as we celebrate a reign of great service and look forward to our new King following the wonderful example his mother set.
God save the King.
Sir Jeremy Wright