Today is a historic day, as today the Queen becomes the first monarch ever to celebrate her Sapphire Jubilee. She acceded to the throne on this day sixty-five years ago.
We are informed that the Queen will be spending the day quietly at home in Sandringham. Various guns will be fired in public places to mark the event, but that is all. For us, this is the anniversary of the Accession; but for the Queen, today is the anniversary of her beloved father’s death, who coincidentally died at Sandringham, so she never celebrates this day: all Jubilee celebrations tend to take place on June 2 or thereabouts, the anniversary of the coronation.
As the Queen sits at home reflecting on her long life and her long reign, we too could profitably do the same. First of all, hers has been a lifetime’s commitment to the role given her by Providence. In a world of chopping and changing, she has remained steady. This is a good reminder to us all of the lifetime commitments that we have taken on, in particularly our lifetime commitment that comes from our baptismal covenant; as well as the other lifetime commitments made by married people, those in religious life, and the clergy. The Queen is a wonderful example of faithfulness to a call.
The second thing about the Queen that comes to mind is her unshowy devotion to duty. It really is not about her at all, but about the nation, and of course, the Commonwealth. She serves us, not the other way around. In 65 years she has never failed in her duty. This makes her not simply the most remarkable and admirable woman in the country, but perhaps in the world. Her style is in marked contrast to the celebrity culture that is all around us.
Thirdly, perhaps thanks to the influence of those who brought her up, the Queen is a rather frugal person. Yes, she lives in a variety of palaces, castles and houses, and the machinery of monarchy costs a great deal (while comparing very favourably to the expenses of some elected heads of state), but she herself is emphatically not given to luxury. Like her ancestress Queen Victoria, her idea of happiness is a walk in the rain in the countryside around Balmoral.
Fourthly, and perhaps the most important of all, as is clear to anyone who has been listening to her Christmas broadcasts over the years, the Queen is a Christian. She is a particular type of Christian, a Low Church Anglican, of the sort who makes little outward show of her faith. But it is certainly there, and it has sustained her over these 65 years. The way she has acted over the last six-and-a-half decades is a tribute to that faith.
As she gets older, we appreciate her more. She is now 90 years old, and in many ways she embodies the values of an earlier age, the time of her youth. There are lots of old people in Britain today of her age, and some see this as a problem. It certainly brings its challenges, but it is surely also a blessing. As the Queen grows in popularity each year, we should all appreciate not only her, but all people of a certain age. We have so much to learn, and they have so much to teach us!