Rows of people lining the streets. Voices clamouring to make their feelings known to their Sovereign. Images beamed around the world. Superficially, today’s events in Kings Lynn, UK, and Homs, Syria, have much in common. The difference? The person in charge.
Today in the UK we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne. I’m not an ardent royalist, but I like to think that whatever my political leanings were, I could recognise a good leader when I see one. And other people seem to be able to see it too, as the tributes come pouring in: the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition… Mick Hucknall (no, really: https://twitter.com/#!/SimplyRedHQ).
You’d be hard pushed around here to find someone who wouldn’t like to see her 70th jubilee, or even her 80th. The Queen, as David Cameron pointed out, has been a great source of stability over 60 years of great change. That’s undoubtedly true.
But the pinnacle of my admiration is summed up in her Diamond Jubilee message. “I dedicate myself anew to your service”, she says.
Pardon me? You, ma’am, serve us? I know we’re not living in the feudal era any more but I still don’t expect that. A monarch who’s determined to serve! Fancy!
Can Elizabeth II be anything other than a Christian queen? Is there not here a strong echo of a certain other monarch, who can be credited with devising the first-ever strategy of servant leadership? ‘Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them… Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”’ (Mark 10:42-44)
When the sad day comes when the Queen’s rule ends, I wonder if we will wake up and realise what a good thing we had. A Christian Monarch.
Meanwhile, in Syria, they are under no illusions. For them, the flipside of Jesus’ statement is true: their high officials do indeed exercise authority over them. They do it with shells and mortars and artillery.
Back in peaceful England, with a servant leader on the throne, I have no hesitation in lending my voice to the clamour:
God save the Queen!