Sr Teresa McMenamin dj, of the District England, shares with us her thoughts and feelings as she watched the arrival of the funeral cortege of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, London.
Gratitude for a life of service
As we heard of the Queen’s death, I felt a deep desire to be among the many people who would visit her lying in state in Westminster Hall, the most ancient building in the Houses of Parliament in London. With the realization of the long queues, this became impossible, but the desire to do something – to represent my, and the sisters’ gratitude for the example of her deep faith and long life of service remained with me.
“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.”
Queen Elizabeth II on her 21st birthday 1947
An offering back to God
So, I went to join the great crowds outside Buckingham Palace as her coffin was brought home from Balmoral Castle in Scotland. All around the palace, and lining the long avenues leading to it, the crowds waited respectfully and reflectively, talking to those around them in quiet voices, recalling remembered moments or simply about life and death, heedless of the drizzle and darkness falling. I felt it was a prayer –an offering back to God of a long faith-filled life, of thanksgiving for the Queen’s life of service, a sense of shared loss, and a prayer for help and guidance for the future.
The simplicity of death
About 8.00 p.m. the motorcycles announced the coming of the cortege, umbrellas were lowered, gentlemen took off their caps, and a deep silence filled the whole area. The glass hearse was lit up and the royal standard covered the coffin and moved slowly through the great gates of the palace.
In all the rich majesty there was also the simplicity of death.
The crowds dispersed slowly and reflectively, and I imagine that many others, like myself, gave thanks for the privilege of being able to be there, and carried others in their hearts, as we made our different ways home.
Sr Teresa McMenamin, dj