Fulfilled living in later life

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The Queen’s vulnerability aged 95 reflects the Christian heart of her coronation vows

Tuesday 2nd November 2021

The Queen’s vulnerability aged 95 reflects the Christian heart of her coronation vows

Louise Morse

The Queen turned down an invitation from the ‘Oldie’ magazine for the ‘Oldie of The Year’ award. She said that because ‘you are as old as you feel’ she does not meet the award criteria. The magazine was so impressed with her response that it put her photograph and comment on the front cover. But, despite her chirpiness, at the age of 95, rest, withdrawal, and slight diminishments are her future. Giles Fraser, priest, and journalist, says that the vulnerability we see now has been a characteristic of her reign, beginning with the unseen part of the coronation, the ancient anointing ceremony that was considered too ‘raw’ for the cameras.

She was just 25 when she acceded to the throne, and twenty-seven when the Archbishop of Canterbury placed the responsibility of the crown upon her head. 277 million people worldwide watched the Coronation Ceremony grouped around small black and white television sets.

What they didn’t see was the pivotal, central moment of the whole ceremony, writes Giles Fraser, when the Queen was disrobed of her crimson cloak and her jewellery removed. ‘Here she sat in a simple white dress on a wooden throne to be anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury with holy oil, ladled from a 12th century spoon.

She, like Solomon, was dedicated to God. This is when the choir sings ‘Zadok the Priest,’ its words extracted from the First Book of Kings, have been sung at every English coronation since 973 AD. These echoes of the Hebrew Bible are deliberate: Kings and Queens are supposed to be servants too. In Christian terms, like the Servant King who emptied Himself of power in order to achieve His most important work.’

The vulnerability that comes from placing one’s life in the service of other people and of God is the essence of the Queen’s reign. When we read about the Queen being tired and exhausted, we see how that reveals the pouring out of herself that is at the heart of her ministry, for ‘ministry’ is what it is: echoing that central, unseen part in her coronation anointing.

Giles Fraser writes that now, the more vulnerable and open version of the Queen that we are seeing is the greatest of her roles as our monarch. ‘It is not important if she misses COP26 or other political talking shops. She is doing something much more important now. She is showing us what human life is all about when we loosen our grip on power, status, and function. Her last act may well be her finest.’

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