Through 96 years of life, and over 70 years of faithful service as monarch, the life of Her Majesty the Queen has been a constant example, not only to her people, here in Britain and across the Commonwealth, but to the wider world. From wartime teenager to recent widow, she has shown both resilience in adversity, and unremitting determination to face the most challenging times alongside her people. We who have seen and paid attention to her example, have been better people for it.
Many, many lives have been deeply enriched, simply by her presence at some special occasion. I recall vividly her visit to our cathedral last summer, to celebrate our 600th anniversary and to meet, and personally thank, representatives of the many volunteers from across the region who had played vital parts during lockdown.
For Christians, her life has been a particular embodiment of our faith. An embodiment she felt able to express with ever greater prominence in more recent years, most especially in her annual Christmas Broadcasts. For those of us who are Anglicans, her constitutional role in our Church has stood as a bulwark against excessive clericalism. Yet she has always been a Queen for those of all faiths or none.
Her relationships with her diocesan bishops have meant far more than simply the formalities of issuing mandates for appointment and receiving homage. The private conversations we have held with her, together with her hospitality at Sandringham, have allowed us a glimpse into the more private side of her public figure, establishing beyond doubt that the smile so often on her face on public occasions was backed up by a vibrant and undimmed sense of humour.
Each of us will have our own private memories and thoughts at this time. These next few days will allow us to reflect and draw strength from them, both individually and together. Indeed, one of the greatest tributes we can pay to her life will be to allow this time to make us stronger and more united as a people, relishing the richness of our diversity even as she did.
May God bless us, and God save the King.