We remember before God Elizabeth, our Queen for so many years, for most of us, our Queen throughout our lives. We remember too a family who mourn their mother, their grandmother .. just as we also remember those in our community who grieve at this time.

We remember before God our monarch, praying for Charles as he takes on this unique role, shaped and formed by the weight of history, soon to be crowned by the Archbishop, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

For many the recent poignant photo of the Queen in black, on her own, in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, was testament to a person of integrity and honour. She – like so many in the covid pandemic – was denied a proper funeral for her beloved husband and she did not pull rank – another way in which her very particular and different life actually interlinks with us.

When all is said and done, she was human like we are, with family, as we have, who loved and was loved, as we hope we do and are.

Her Christian faith was always important to her, and in recent years she spoke more directly and explicitly about it and how it shaped her. In that respect she overcame a traditional British reserve about speaking about faith in a way which maybe we should not just envy but seek to emulate. Was it easier for her to do so, given her very “privileged” position? We may wonder what the banquets and palaces are like to live in, the servants and the opened doors, but I suspect we would also find the constant press intrusion, the stories that circulate, the lack of freedom, and the need to be on best behaviour very tiring and wearing. We might like a stint in a palace, but we might also find it a gilded prison!

As someone who is interested in history our country seems to have had a mix of good and not so good monarchs, some who had good characteristics but significant flaws, and a few with apparently almost no redeeming graces. Our hereditary monarchy has seen some peculiar lane changes, when the next relative was not a direct descendant of the previous one (think George 1st from Hanover)! I also look at other forms of government and they too have had good, not so good and downright awful leaders. Many around the world have looked to our Queen as an exemplary head of state, and some have sought to be free of the monarchic bonds. Politics divides as well as unites. It is good for a nation to unite on key occasions, and for this weekend and the coming week we will be asked to come together in shared activities and in a shared pause, as many things are cancelled or postponed out of respect. It is good for a nation to pause. The Queen would want us to pray, not for her, but for us, for Charles as he takes on this responsibility, and for our future under God; it is good for a nation to pray.

Today and this week we will remember a remarkable woman, a remarkable head of state and a remarkable Christian. We remember her with thanks, we commend her to God, we pray for our nation and Commonwealth. We pray for unity, peace, justice and hope, those signs of the true Kingdom of which all earthly kingdoms are at best only a part – something Queen Elizabeth knew well, as she understood her role to be to serve her God and her country.