We are living through a period of time, which although we knew would happen one day, we never imagined it actually happening. The events of the past few days are something which very few of us have experienced before and for some they will never see again. The initial feeling of shock at the news of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has moved us to profound grief, and a greater appreciation of the life of service and dedication to our nation made by Her Majesty.
The scenes we have all been witnessing on our television screens as the body of Her Majesty has made its way from Balmoral to Westminster Hall, where she now lies in state, have shown us the high regard and respect in which she was held by her people. Alongside this we have watched a family grieve for their matriarch and shared their pain and sorrow.
Here in Bridport flags on public buildings and in private gardens have been flown at half and full mast in line with protocol. Along our high streets, shops, offices, restaurants and public houses have each in their own way made known their feeling of loss and appreciation by a range of window displays.
Over the past few days I have recieved numerous messages of condolence including one from St Vaast our French twin town. As I make my way through town I have spoken to many people and even those of a republican persuasion have expressed their sadness at her passing. As is all too often the case, “you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.” Joni Mitchell.
King Charles III – Proclamation Ceremony
The basis on which our monarchy is built has ensured that through the centuries the Crown has passed in an unbroken line of succession. Sunday’s ceremony marked the formal Proclamation to the people of the town of Bridport of the beginning of our new King’s reign.
On Saturday the Accession Council met at St. James’s Palace to proclaim our new Sovereign. The flags which had flown at half-mast since the Queen’s death were raised briefly to their full height to mark the start of His Majesty’s reign.
The Accession Council also made an Order requiring High Sheriffs to cause the Proclamation to be read in the areas of their jurisdiction. I witnessed The High Sheriff of Dorset discharg that duty earlier on Sunday. It was with my humble duty to bring the words of the Proclamation to the residents of Bridport at 3.00pm in Bucky Doo Square.
In addition to the large crowd that had gathered were Deputy Town Clerk, Daryl Chambers, Deputy Mayor Dave Bolwell and Canon Rev’d Deb Smith who following the reading of the Proclamation delivered a short reflection and prayer. I then led those gathered in the singing of the National Anthem, God Save The King, after which Town Crier ,John Collingwood called for three cheers in honour of our new King, Charles III.
People also took the opportunity to sign the Book of Condolence and lay flowers as a mark of respect.
The proclamation of the new Sovereign is a very old tradition which can be traced back over many centuries. The ceremony does not create a new King. It is simply an announcement of the accession which takes place immediately on the death of the reigning monarch.
In an age where modern methods of communication convey news around the globe in an instant, the proclamation is no longer the means by which people learn for the first time that they have a new monarch. Sunday’s ceremony, however, was one of the first occasions when communities have an opportunity to come together and reflect on the moment in our nation’s history when the reign of our longest serving monarch came to an end and our new sovereign succeeded.
A Commemoration Service marking the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was held at St Mary’s Church, South Street on Thursday evening at 6.30. Representatives from churches across the town, Councillors, and members of the armed and civil services joined a large congregation in what was an extremely emotional occasion.
As part of the commemoration service the poem written in memory of the Queen by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage was read out. Each of the two verses is an acoustic: the initial letter of each line spell the word ‘Elizabeth’.
The title of the the poem is ‘Floral Tribute’. Armitage uses the Lily of the Valley, one of her majesty’s favourite flowers, seen in her coronation and wedding bouquets, as a way in to the poem.
When you read ‘Floral Tribute’ you realise that the Lily of the Valley is personified in the Queen; a namesake almost, when you remember her nickname as a child was ‘Lilibet’.
On Monday we will witness the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the moment when she will pass from our lives to rest in peace for eternity alongside her lifelong partner Prince Philip. As we watch the pomp and ceremony unfold, we will be baring witness, alongside our own family and friends, to another family saying their final goodbye.
We now have a new monarch, King Charles III, and as we adjust to life without the Queen; singing God Save the King, a new face on our money and stamps and numerous other changes I hope that in time he will become as well respected and loved as his mother.
God Save The King