Published by Daily Mail
On 2nd June 1953, the Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher crowned Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, Pakistan and sundry other realms and distant territories. She was anointed on King Edward’s Chair in Westminster Abbey, where a thousand years of monarchs have sworn their oaths to God and made promises to their peoples. The Prime Minister was Winston Churchill.
It is curious to think that the Royal Barge which led the 1000-boat flotilla down the Thames last year in celebration of the Diamond Queen bore the name of Churchill’s home – the ‘Spirit of Chartwell’. She knew him when he was battling through the darkest days of Nazi invasion; he shared his wisdom with her when she ascended the throne at the tender age of 25. His fortitude and her longevity are the stuff of national myth. She is a living reminder of our deliverance from evil, when Spitfires flew over Buckingham Palace not in ceremonial flypast, but in a life-and-death battle for the soul of the nation.
And through all the political fractures and religious schisms of the past six decades, she has been a vision of true majesty; transcending petty ideologies and the ephemeral fads that come and go like politicians in a by-election. In an age when representative government is despised and democratic accountability diminished by the interminable drip-drip-drip of scandal and corruption, it is worth reflecting on the fact that the Queen has remained loyal to her Coronation Oath to God, sworn in 1953, while thousands of succeeding politicians have reneged on their oaths of allegiance to her, incrementally subsuming Parliament to foreign powers; the Crown to foreign courts; undermining democracy with oligarchy; and negating sovereignty with fealty to unaccountable elites.
The Archbishop of Canterbury asked her: “Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?”
To which the Queen responded: “All this I promise to do.”
And with the Sword of State carried before her, she went up to the altar and made her solemn Oath. Laying her right hand upon the Bible, she knelt and declared: “The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.”
Then she kissed the Bible and signed the Oath.
Later that day, she made a broadcast to the nation, in which she again asked for prayer that God would give her wisdom and strength to carry out her promises; to support her in the task to which she had been dedicated with solemnity. And she remarked that some ancient aspects of the Coronation service ‘are veiled in the mists of the past’, but she was sure that ‘their spirit and their meaning shine through the ages never, perhaps, more brightly than now’.
A thousand years of traditions have occasionally been tested to breaking point during her reign, but the light of the gospel has not dimmed. She is our Queen and Supreme Governor, and performs both roles with a subtle impeccability. She reigns in splendour, called by God, anointed to his glory. Her Coronation was not, as she observed, a symbol of her power, but a declaration of hope for the future; that by God’s grace and mercy she might serve with wisdom, justice and humility.
For 60 glorious years the Queen has been the incarnation of the national good and the unfailing advocate of the common good. She is not only the rock of constitutional continuity, but the woven fabric of the national psyche and the gilding of the Christian spirit – not immutable or infallible, but loyal, organic and transformative; the trusted guarantor of liberty, fraternity and prosperity.
Long may she reign.