The Platinum Jubilee - A Personal Reflection

The Platinum Jubilee - A Personal Reflection

Earlier this week I was looking through BBC iplayer and I came across the recent documentary ‘Elizabeth: The Unseen Queen’. Hitting ‘play’ and starting to watch as the reels of old film rolled, I found myself experiencing that feeling you get when you’re hunting through cupboards and come across an old family photo album; you are curious, you are nostalgic, you are drawn in.

I was 4 years old in 1977, when Queen Elizabeth marked her Silver Jubilee. My mum had been given a commemorative book that sat in the magazine rack in our lounge for a number of years. There was something about the story it told that even as a child I found strangely interesting; a family story, a story of Kings and Queens, of Castles and Palaces, of Princes and Princesses. 

Two days before his 17th birthday in June 1953 my dad had visited London for the Coronation, as a representative of his school Air Training Corp. He was at the Victoria Monument when the newly crowned Monarch and her family walked out onto the balcony of Buckingham Palace; a memory that lived on for him long after lesser memories had slipped away.

In 1991, when I was 18, I went to Queen’s University to study law. As I sat in lectures and tutorials with people whose family stories, and affections, were radically different from mine I found myself immersed in the realities that carrying ‘who we are’, building friendships and sharing space, in this part of the world is a complex, and often painful, thing. 

I haven’t really kept pace with the Royal Family as the years have gone by. I would struggle to guess how many children Edward and Sophie have. My grasp of the detail of William and Kate’s lives is limited. However, at this time of Platinum Jubilee I find myself drawn back, with affection and respect, into the story of who the Queen is, and what it is that has enabled her over these past seven decades to simply always be there.

In 1952 months after she had acceded to the throne, Queen Elizabeth, aged 26, made her first Christmas broadcast. Having been born to the Duke and Duchess of York she had grown up as the princess who never expected to be queen. Now in her first public address she made this request of those who were listening to her:

‘Pray for me … that I may faithfully serve God and you, all the days of my life.’

In 2001 Alistair Campbell, Downing Street’s Director of Communications and Strategy famously interjected ‘We don’t do God’ when the then Prime Minister was asked to comment on the role of faith in public life. It was an astute and strategic answer, a grasping of the public mood that faith could be tolerated but only in a private space. As the years have gone by Queen Elizabeth has conspicuously swum against this tide. Her public comments are few, but year on year she has spoken quietly yet clearly, about the centrality of her faith in Jesus, and how that faith has shaped both who she is and what she does.

In her Christmas broadcast in 2002 she said: ‘I rely on my faith to guide me … I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right … to give of my best in all the day brings, and to put my trust in God.’

In 2014 she added: ‘For me, the life of Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.’

It is not easy to say such things today. It is harder to live them. In a quietly extraordinary way this is what the Queen has done. Perhaps there has been no fuller expression of who she is, and of the heart of the One she serves, than when in 2011 and again in 2012 she visited this island south and then north, giving expression to an identity that only her unique life could enable her to carry. She came as a Sovereign. She came as a victim (having lost a much-loved cousin in a bombing in 1979). She came as a reconciler without reserve. 

As I have grown older I have sought to grow into an identity where my first loyalty is to the Lord Jesus Christ. In Queen Elizabeth I believe I see someone who has shown the way in what this can mean. On this her Platinum Jubilee I am thankful for the life she has lived and the example she has been.


Niall Lockhart

June 2022