This week, we have seen endless news coverage of the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the how the British Empire is mourning her loss. For many of us, including Janet and I, we have never known any Queen other than Elizabeth. She became the monarch in 1952, had her coronation is 1953 and has ruled for more than 70 years. As you may recall, her Platinum Jubilee happened this very summer. It fact, for the huge majority of us, we have never known a British King on the throne – until the end of last week.
Mementos of the Queen are everywhere. Her royal standards, even down to the “E” with the crown above it on the side of the royal hearse, remind us of her dominance and popularity with the people of Britain. She was the longest serving monarch in the history of the Empire. But you know what I saw this week? She was a mother of four – four children who also lost their father about a year ago. Aside from that, she was revered as a mother to millions of us around the world.
Like most families, the Windsors have had their ups and downs. Divorces, charges of fraud and infidelity, as well as other indiscretions have played out in the public eye. Even the current rift between William and Harry has become public. But the truth of the matter is that we really don’t know what happens behind closed doors.
One thing we saw earlier on television, however, was the statement by Princess Royal (Anne) that spending the last day of the Queen’s life with her was one of the greatest blessings that she could imagine. Anne is the second child and only daughter of Philip and Elizabeth. It is well known that Anne and her mother were very close. While Charles was undoubtedly raised to royal service as the first in line to the throne, Anne has had other responsibilities and her role as the only daughter gives her a different perspective on the monarchy and her role as a working royal.
So, as Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward walked behind the hearse in Scotland, or the gun carriage carrying the Queen to Westminster Hall, Janet and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the loss of our own parents. In fact, this week marks the 24th anniversary of the death of my mother yesterday, Sept. 14th and the 9th anniversary of Janet’s father’s passing earlier this week on Sept. 12th. Since Janet and I have known each other as close family friends since very early in our childhoods, it’s like we have both lost 2 mothers and 2 fathers as our parents have passed away.
I guess that this is the thing that caused both of us to look at the family loss in the death of the Queen. Now, Charles and his siblings are the first generation in line. It is their role to carry on as both their parents are now in heaven and the children carry heavy responsibilities as they assume their new duties.
Frankly, that’s much the same way I felt when I lost my mother in 1998. At least my parents died twenty years apart – Dad back in 1978. But Janet lost both her parents within 18 days and she didn’t even the chance to mourn the loss of her Mom before her Dad died a little more than two weeks later. The children of Philip and Elizabeth are dealing with the tragedy of losing their folks in about a year.
Our verse for tonight is one that we all do well to listen to, but Charles and his siblings in particular. We are told by Moses, the author of Deuteronomy, in Deuteronomy 5:16, “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
My encouragement this evening is that there is a divine mandate in the Old Testament to honor our folks. Clearly, there are those among us who found it difficult, if not impossible, to do that. But for most of us, God’s command to honor Mothers and Fathers should be an encouragement to each of us – even after they are no longer with us.
My prayer is that King Charles III and his siblings will remember this mandate and that the Lord will bless this new monarch and the rest of the royal family as they carry on without the leader who has guided them for almost three quarters of a century. Well, done, Queen Elizabeth. Rest In Peace and Godspeed. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…