How can any of us ever forget those words of Her Majesty the Queen at Dublin Castle 11 years ago when she stunned all present with these simple words – “A Uachtaráin agus a chairde” (President and friends).
The Queen speaking in Gaelic, acknowledging people this side of the water and both sides of the border as friends. Fearlessly crossing centuries of political animosity, bitterness, turbulence, and personal pain for the sake of reconciliation.
“With the benefit of historical hindsight”, she said, “we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all. But it is also true that no one who looked to the future over the past centuries could have imagined the spirit of partnership that we now enjoy.”
Today is the beginning of a specially extended Bank Holiday weekend to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, celebrating 70 years of selfless service. What has enabled the Queen to fulfil her Coronation promise with such integrity, courage, and grace over these decades?
Well, her Christmas 2014 speech gives us the clue.
“For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance, and healing.”
And more recently
“Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love.”
The Queen has served with grace because she serves the King of grace.
In a world of division and historic distrust, where it is easy to be cynical, bitter, or angry with so much in the public sphere, how thankful we are then for the way Her Majesty has reset relations in this part of the world by showing respect, serving the nation during times of conflict and peace, providing steadfastness and stability, and tirelessly supporting innumerable charitable causes. Probably the hardest working 96-year-old in the entire land!
Today, we pray that the Platinum Jubilee might be a time of renewed unity for us all, as together we learn from and embrace the selfless service which Queen Elizabeth has shown these last 7 decades and say to her these simple yet sincere words: – ‘Congratulations, and God bless you’.