67 years ago today the late King George VI died at his estate at Sandringham in Norfolk at the age of 56. His daughter, the Princess Elizabeth, was in Kenya at the time, en route for a tour of Australia. Though it was to be another sixteen months before her Coronation in Westminster Abbey, Elizabeth had become Queen. She was 25 years old. For the whole of her adult life Elizabeth has been Sovereign. She has surpassed Queen Victoria’s long reign of 63 years, and on the 31st January we learned that Elizabeth II passed Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine’s 66 year and 358 day reign to become the longest-reigning female ruler in history. It is a remarkable milestone, but one which is notable for the quality of service and dedication rendered by this Christian monarch to God on behalf the many peoples of her realms and territories throughout the world.
Today, then, is marked as Accession Day in those places where the Queen remains Head of State (the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, etc.). It was first marked during the reign of Elizabeth I, and later a ‘Form of Prayer and Thanksgiving’ was first published in 1576, and was renewed during the reign of James II in 1685. A collect in Divine Worship: The Missal is provided for use in the Commonwealth realms where the Ordinariate is present, and follows below.
‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong. But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do. I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it’.
on the occasion of her 21st birthday, as Princess Elizabeth, 1947
O God, who providest for thy people by thy power, and rulest over them in love: vouchsafe so to bless thy Servant our Queen; that under her this nation may be wisely governed, and grant that she being devoted to thee with her whole heart, and persevering in good works unto the end, may, by thy guidance, come to thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Of your charity, please pray for the repose of the soul of Monsignor Edwin Barnes, who died today, following a short illness, on this his 84th birthday. Pray also for his widow, Jane. Mgr Barnes served as Prinicpal of St Stephen’s House, Oxford, from 1987 to 1995, and served as the first Bishop of Richborough, a provinical episcopal visitor in the Province of Canterbury, from 1995 to 2002. He and his wife were received into full communion in 2011, after which he was ordained priest for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. In 2012 he was appointed a Chaplain of His Holiness. Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Jesu, mercy. Mary, pray.
Fr Lee Kenyon