A tribute by Canon Eric Woods
Deputy Lieutenant of Dorset
It is said that, when a British Monarch is crowned, he or she goes into Westminster Abbey as one person and comes out as another. If you have ever watched the televised recording of the Coronation, you may remember that, while the choir sang Zadok the Priest, the Queen was divested of the great crimson royal robe of state. Wearing a simple white dress over the coronation dress, she moved to King Edward’s Chair and took her seat there, facing the altar, not the congregation. The historian Lawrence Tanner afterwards remarked how deeply he had been moved by that slight figure, “clothed in simple white, terribly alone, awaiting her anointing.”
Now she has gone from us, but so much of her still remains: her example of dedication and service, her concern for the peace and unity of her realm, and of the Commonwealth of Nations, her love of all peoples, regardless of creed, colour or class, and her profound Christian faith.
As Supreme Governor of the Church of England, she had a clear understanding of what her Church is for. As she told the assembled bishops at the Lambeth Conference in 2012, “We should remind ourselves of the significant position of the Church of England in our nation’s life. The concept of our established Church is occasionally misunderstood and, I believe, commonly under-appreciated. Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.
“It certainly provides an identity and spiritual dimension for its own many adherents. But also, gently and assuredly, the Church of England has created an environment for other faith communities and indeed people of no faith to live freely. Woven into the fabric of this country, the Church has helped to build a better society – more and more in active co-operation for the common good with those of other faiths.”
Sadly there are those in this country who love to sneer at and mock the monarchy, just as they sneer at and mock everything that is good and true and noble in our land. But then, the monarchy, like the Church, is ultimately a profoundly counter-cultural institution. It stands for the eternal verities, not the fads and fashions of this passing age. And it points beyond itself to the majesty of God. As one recent commentator has put it, ‘Hereditary monarchy is a lonely, noble, sacrificial calling’ – and so it is. At this time, then, we should offer up our heartfelt thanks for Queen Elizabeth II, for so long our Sovereign Dei Gratia, by the grace of God. We should pray that she will rest in peace, and rise in glory. And we must pray too for her son, King Charles III, that he will always know the love and loyalty of all his subjects and, above all, the strength and blessing of Almighty God.
God save The King.
During her long reign, the Queen touched many lives and made multiple visits to the Blackmore Vale. Did you meet her? Did she support your charity or social enterprise? If so, we’d love to hear about it: send your stories, memories and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll compile them in the next issue.
Blandford pays its respects
The people of Blandford came out to witnesss history, to mourn collectively and to celebrate the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth II
Hundreds of people gathered in Blandford Market Place on Sunday afternoon to witness the historic Proclamation of the Accession of King Charles III, brought in the traditional way by the Mayor, Colin Stevens, after he heard the pronouncement in the county town of Dorchester earlier that day.
The Mayor’s Chaplain, the Rev Chris Beaumont, led prayers during the short service, and afterwards Rob Chalkley led the gathering in the singing of God Save the King.
A space had been made available in the churchyard of the parish church for people to place floral tributes to the Queen, the first laid by the Mayor and his wife Chris, and the front lobby was opened up as a place for prayer and reflection, with the opportunity to light a candle.
And the church itself, which has for the last six months been unavailable for prayer and worship due to the restoration being carried out inside and outside, was re-opened on Saturday after a major exercise to clean up six months’ of builders’ dust.
An open day had been planned on Saturday (10 September) to coincide with the annual Ride & Stride of the Dorset Historic Churches Trust and Dorset Architectural Heritage Week, when the wider community was invited to see the work carried out to the church, and the newly painted and re-gilded East End.
But following the news of the Queen’s passing, a call for volunteers went out to clean it up and move rolls of insulation which had occupied the pews so it could be fully opened for a service on Sunday morning.
The church remained open for prayers during the week, and a service of thanksgiving was scheduled for 11am on Sunday 18 September, the day before the funeral for the late monarch.
The town’s book of condolence remained in the Corn Exchange throughout the week, and will be available for signatures on Saturday, when a consultation is taking place on the local Neighbourhood Plan, and the town hall and council chamber will be open to the public as part of Dorset Architectural Heritage Week.
Tributes to HMQ
During her life and times, Queen Elizabeth touched the lives of many…
President of Dorset Chamber Caron Khan said: “All at the Dorset Chamber are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Our thoughts and condolences are with the Royal family at this time of such great sorrow.
“The profound loss we now feel is mirrored by thanks for her life of exemplary public service, including her support for business as patron of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
“Her Majesty performed her duties with such dignity and calm assurance during a remarkable reign which has served as an inspiration and example to so many.
“Elizabeth II is the only monarch many of us have ever known and she has remained a constant presence as a symbol of unity through good times and bad.
“Although this is a very sad day, her legacy will live on through her family and the country she has helped to shape with such wisdom and leadership over so many years.
Angus Campbell, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Dorset, said:“While still a Princess, on her 21st birthday, Her Majesty broadcast a declaration to the country and the Commonwealth which included the words: ‘I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.’
“Those words encapsulate the love, service and strength of character with which Her Majesty has led the monarchy of Great Britain and the Commonwealth over her 70-year reign.
“We have all lost a unique, loving and determined Monarch who has, over 70 years, not only delivered the extraordinary, devoted service and support she promised at such an early age, but given us so very much more besides.
“Our loss is incalculable.”
Cllr Val Pothecary, chairman of Dorset Council, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Royal Family and the country as we mourn the loss of Her Majesty, and I would like to offer them our heartfelt condolences. We give thanks for her wonderful life and years of devotion to serving the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. She has been an inspiration to us all.”
The nation enters a period of mourning
The Rev Chris Beaumont, Mayor of Blandford Colin Stevens and chairman of the Blandford branch of the Royal British Legion Terry Clarkson gather at the Town Pump in front of Blandford Parish Church to hear the church bell tolling for an hour from noon on Friday following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The lone Union Flag flew at half-mast over the Corn Exchange where a book of condolence was opened on Friday morning and remained open from 9am to 8pm daily during the week for people to visit and sign.
The Royal British Legion nationally has cancelled all events during the period of national mourning, which in Blandford included its annual Poppy Walk on Sunday and a Battle of Britain Thanksgiving Service at Blandford Cemetery on Thursday (15 September).
The final stages of the Tour of Britain cycle race, the seventh stage of which was set to take place through Dorset on Saturday (10 September), were also cancelled.
East Dorset Heritage Trust, organisers of Dorset Architectural Heritage Week, announced that the event from 9-18 September would go ahead but invited individual participants and event hosts to decide whether or not to cancel their particular activity.