Monday, February 6, 2012

KGVI and QEII: 60 Years Ago Today

The King is Dead --- Long Live the Queen!

Sixty years ago today, that phrase, and others like it, filled the front pages of newspapers around the world. Sorrow and joy mingled as people mourned a dearly-loved King and rejoiced for a new Queen. The King lay in state at Westminster for three days, and over 300,000 people filed by to pay their respect. The funeral service, held at St. George's Chapel, was concluded by two minutes of silence stretching throughout Great Britain and its Commonwealth. A final tribute to a monarch that had sacrificed all and led his people to victory throughout a World War.

Often quoted though it may be, I don't think that anything can sum up the reign of King George VI as the finale of his Christmas Speech in 1939:

"And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'
And he replied:
Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.'”

Sixty years ago today, Elizabeth II was proclaimed Queen of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions Beyond the Seas. In a country that was still recovering heavy losses during World War II, she waited a year before her Coronation --- but that didn't stop her loyal subjects from celebrating in the customary way. Now, she is only the second British Monarch to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. She is also the second British Monarch to reign past the age of 81.

The majority of people in the World don't remember a time without her. I certainly can't imagine another Monarch! Wow. I'm taking a copy of a speech that Elizabeth posted on her blog earlier. Winston Churchill on the New Queen:

"Now I must leave the treasures of the past and turn to the future. Famous have been the reigns of our queens. Some of the greatest periods in our history have unfolded under their sceptre. Now that we have the second Queen Elizabeth, also ascending the Throne in her twenty-sixth year, our thoughts are carried back nearly four hundred years to the magnificent figure who presided over and, in many ways, embodied and inspired the grandeur and genius of the Elizabethan age. . . . I, whose youth was passed in the august, unchallenged and tranquil glories of the Victorian era, may well feel a thrill in invoking once more the prayer and the anthem, "God save the Queen!"

American or not, there's a special place in my heart for Britain's fabulous queen. It is my hope that she lives to reign longer than her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria.

Elizabeth Regina. God Bless Her. Long May She Reign.

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