January 27, 2023
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Tomorrow, as I’m writing, the funeral for Queen Elizabeth II will be held at Westminster Abbey. (My invitation seems to have been lost in the mail.)

Seventy years and 214 days. According to Wikipedia, her reign is “the longest of any British monarch, the longest recorded of any female head of state in history, and the second-longest verified reign of any monarch in history.”

In Isaiah 6, when the prophet Isaiah wants to tell his readers when his amazing vision and his divine commissioning took place, he simply says, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, and seated on a throne . . .”

Isaiah remembered. And he knew his readers of that day would, too. Most scholars seem to think that Judah’s King Uzziah died in about 739 B.C. He had reigned for 52 years, and under his reign, Judah had prospered. His accomplishments, innovations, faithfulness, and even his sad ending (leprosy) are fascinating. It doesn’t take five decades for a ruler to leave an indelible mark, for good or ill, and for people to “set their clocks” by him.

Depending on our years (and even, for those who are younger, on the memories of our predecessors), we remember the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the day the World Trade Center towers (and freedom itself) were attacked—and so much more.

“In the year that Queen Elizabeth II died . . .”

Not a bad marker for our times, whether we’re British or not. For many of us, until September 8, 2022, we’d never drawn a breath when Queen Elizabeth was not reigning. And what a fascinating and exemplary reign it was!

Her reign spanned the governments of fifteen prime ministers, beginning with the one man most “indispensable” in winning World War II, Winston Churchill, and ending two days before her death (!) as she met with Liz Truss and officially invited her to form a government. According to the BBC, Truss was born 101 years after Churchill was born. The astounding numbers and statistics of a 70-year reign are unending. 

But far more remarkable here than quantity is quality. I make no apology: I am in awe of this incredible individual, and I doubt the world will ever see her like again.

I find myself wondering about the hand of Providence and asking questions that no mortal can answer. “Ifs” abound.

If King Edward VIII, Elizabeth’s uncle, had not abdicated his throne (in 1936) for “love” (the quotes seem richly deserved) and cast aside his duty, his far more honorable brother would not have become King George VI, and, of course, the world would have never known Queen Elizabeth II.

She did her duty and much more than any country, any subject, could possibly ask or expect from a sovereign, and she blessed not just her country, but our world. Honor, integrity, character, and wisdom. She was, I think, filled with them all.

What would our world look like if more world leaders simply and selflessly embraced their duty? What would our families and our communities look like if more of us, not royal at all, simply did the same?

For commoners like me, the etiquette regarding royal titles is a bit baffling. I believe Queen Elizabeth II was properly addressed as “Your Royal Majesty.” (Evidently, “Your Grace,” as the way of addressing the British monarch went out when the graceless Henry VIII decreed otherwise.)

Nonetheless, in this very memorable time, the week that Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral was held at Westminster Abbey, I find myself immensely thankful for . . . her grace.

Curtis K. Shelburne

Muleshoe Journal Correspondent

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