From Your Royal Correspondent

With the death of our beloved Queen, we are all now subjects of the King.

These are unsettling times.  Post-Brexit challenges, pandemic fears,

war in Europe, energy crisis, swapping Boris for Liz as PM – and now,

most disconcerting of all, the loss of our longest-serving monarch whose sheer endurance and consistent faithfulness to her role gave us a stable backdrop

to our lives for 70 years.


I am of the generation that can recall where I was when the last king died – in my final year at junior school – when solemn notes were struck in the classroom until more upbeat emotions were allowed the next year at the Coronation!

Even so, I have surprised myself by how often I have welled up as I fastidiously studied reams of newsprint or watched extended footage of her life and reign and the TV coverage of the national response to her passing.  I found the funeral service itself strangely uplifting.  Not least because it was unexpectedly Christ-centred.

And how extraordinary it has been to witness vast numbers of ‘ordinary’ people like us flocking to the gates of Holyrood or Buckingham Palace and lining the streets of Edinburgh and London and Windsor.

How can we account for this large-scale homage which dumbfounded the sneering critics?   Why did so many people queue for 8 hours and more to file past the coffin on its catafalque in Westminster Hall through the 24 hours of four whole days?  This is as mysterious as it is moving.  What motivated this river of respect?

Yes, just that: to ‘pay respects’; yes, to mourn the loss of a beloved matriarchal figurehead of the nation, perhaps tied in with one’s own personal bereavement experiences… yes, and to be part of a history-making event, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that enables someone to say: ‘I was there’.

But, on reflection, I wonder if some deeper issues were surfacing, albeit unconsciously.

I wonder, firstly, whether what we were seeing showed our deeply human longing for a bigger story to be part of.

A story we instinctively reach for that is larger than our small family story but which, when grasped, gives us a greater satisfaction because it transcends our own limited definition of self-identity and makes our fleeting lives seem slightly more significant.  The Queen’s long life of service somehow lifted us above the vagaries of political and cultural changes. The bigger story in a strange way ennobles us and – if only briefly – helps us envisage, beyond the greyness of our mundane lives, being caught up in the colour and pageantry of being truly human.

Secondly, as I reflected upon the crowds flocking to pay tribute, I sensed the deep desire we have for a shared story to be part of.

One man in the endless queue spoke for many, I think, when he said he savoured the feeling of ‘community’ it inspired.  Amazing what queueing can achieve – however tiring and frustratingly slow it must have seemed – especially if you didn’t get to chat to David Beckham!  ‘We have made friends’ said another woman! 

The Queen was rightly spoken of as a great ‘unifier’ a rock or lighthouse standing above divisions in society, an amazing woman for ‘all seasons and for all nations’ whose death has prompted thousands of people to want to come together.

As I reflected on this, the Christian story of salvation flooded my mind.

Paul reassured the Philippian believers: “…our citizenship is in heaven”

(Philippians 3:20 ESV);  “…our “commonwealth” is in heaven (AV).

Citizenship and Commonwealth. Both individually and collectively, personally and together, heaven defines our earthly identity and our eternal destiny.

God’s saving story is the biggest, shared story we can participate in.   

We are citizens of the King of Heaven and we belong to a commonwealth made up of “every tribe and language and people and nation’ (Revelation 5:9).

This is the new song we sing: “Worthy are you to take the scroll – (the scroll of God’s redemptive plan for human history and creation’s destiny) – and to open its seals for you were slain and by your blood, you ransomed people for God…”

We dare to believe that this is good news that all need to hear and receive.  Deep unrealised longings lie buried in human hearts obscured by our sin which only heaven’s grace can satisfy. 

All who confess Jesus as Lord and High King of heaven – as our late Majesty sincerely did – rejoice in this bigger shared story that even death cannot destroy.  For “our citizenship is in heaven” and from it we await a royal visit of unimaginable splendour and ultimate significance: “From it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject all things to himself.”

Our Sovereign never dies. He will never abdicate or be succeeded. He lives in the power of an indestructible life to end the oppression of our worst enemy, death – and to bring God’s kingdom in.

Martyn Lloyd Jones ends his study of Romans 8 with these words which I have said to myself every day for months now: “No day can ever dawn when He will not be there; or when anything or anybody can in anyway rob us of the salvation he has purchased for us.”

Like Queen Elizabeth, we are citizens of this eternal Kingdom and servants of this eternal King.   

So be it, Lord; thy throne shall never

Like earth's proud empires, pass away;
Thy Kingdom stands, and grows for ever,
Till all thy creatures own thy sway.