General Synod: Loyal address to HM the Queen
Monday 6th February 2012The Archbishop of Canterbury has highlighted the Queen's Christian faith as the Church of England's national assembly backed sending a message of "warmest congratulations" on her Diamond Jubilee.
Dr Rowan Williams paid tribute to both the Queen and her father George VI, whose death 60 years ago today led to her Accession to the throne.
"The Diamond Jubilee celebrates much more than the length of Her Majesty's reign, though that is remarkable in itself. She has been our Queen for as long as most of us can remember," Dr Williams told the General Synod.
"None of us can imagine what it would be like to hold the same office for sixty years - Her Majesty's life is one in which the privilege accorded by birth has been richly earned by generous service."
Dr Williams said "at the forefront of our minds" were the Christmas broadcasts in which the Queen has spoken of her own faith in the importance of Jesus Christ for the world.
"As the text underlines, being head of this state is not a secular office but a Christian one, for which the Sovereign is anointed with oil and consecrated," he said.
"It is a Christian vocation, which Her Majesty freely accepted and exercised as such."
The full text of the Archbishop's speech follows:
King George VI died on this day sixty years ago, aged just 56. As we begin to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, I would first like to pay tribute to her father, recalling his courageous acceptance—at a time of crisis—of a role that he had neither desired nor expected. His exercise of this role won him great respect and affection, and his equally courageous leadership of our nation through its most testing time in modern history left a permanent legacy of gratitude.
The Diamond Jubilee celebrates much more than the length of Her Majesty’s reign, though that is remarkable in itself. She has been our Queen for as long as most of us can remember. None of us can imagine what it would be like to hold the same office for sixty years: Her Majesty’s life is one in which the privilege accorded by birth has been richly earned by generous service. Addressing the peoples of the Commonwealth and Empire on her 21st birthday, she said, ‘I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service’. We celebrate this year her faithfulness to that vow, and her willingness expressed in her message today to renew her personal dedication to the service of nation and Commonwealth.
The General Synod is one of the bodies that has the privilege of presenting a Loyal Address to The Queen on significant moments during her reign. A Loyal Address is necessarily formal in style, but as Anglicans we understand that it is often in formal language that we can most appropriately express what we hold most deeply.
In these brief remarks I cannot touch on everything that is said in the draft text on the Notice Paper, but I would like to highlight two points – about the role of Sovereign in this Kingdom, and about Her Majesty’s exercise of it.
As the text underlines, being head of this state is not a secular office but a Christian one, for which the Sovereign is anointed with oil and consecrated. It is a Christian vocation, which Her Majesty freely accepted and exercised as such.
In the Book of Common Prayer we pray for Her Majesty ‘that she (knowing whose minister she is) may above all things seek thy honour and glory’. That prayer God has answered, in ways of which the Loyal Address speaks. First and foremost, it mentions her ‘witness to the Christian Faith’. At the forefront of our minds here are the Christmas broadcasts in which Her Majesty has spoken of her own faith in the importance of Jesus Christ for the world.
The text on the Notice Paper is a draft. We have already received some suggested amendments and if anyone has any others to offer they should let us have them through the Secretary General. I hope that we needn’t attempt to finalize the wording in a committee of the whole House here this afternoon, but instead can pass this motion with acclaim, congratulate Her Majesty most warmly on her Diamond Jubilee, and look forward to celebrating it with her throughout this special year, and especially over the Jubilee weekend in June.
The Archbishop of Canterbury to move:
'That this Synod congratulate most warmly Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her Diamond Jubilee and approve the submission to Her Majesty of a Loyal Address along the lines indicated in the Second Notice Paper.'
We, Your Majesty's faithful subjects, the Archbishops, Bishops, Clergy and Laity of the Church of England, together with the representatives of other churches, assembled in the General Synod, assure Your Majesty of our loyalty and devotion to Your Majesty and to Your Throne.
We offer our warmest congratulations to Your Majesty on the Diamond Jubilee of Your Accession to the Throne. We give thanks to Almighty God for the many blessings we have enjoyed during Your reign. We pledge ourselves to continue to work under Your leadership for the common good in this Nation and for justice and peace throughout the world.
We recall that at your Coronation, having taken the Coronation Oath, you were anointed with Oil and consecrated Queen. Your faithfulness throughout six decades to the vocation that You accepted at Your Accession has set an important example to successive generations. Your witness to the Christian Faith and to the Christian values of love of God and neighbour, and Your selfless devotion to the service of Commonwealth and Nation, have been an inspiration to many. We and all Your people are deeply in your debt.
For our part we reaffirm the Church of England's commitment to serve all the people of England who seek its ministry, wherever possible in co-operation with other Christian churches. We shall endeavour to maintain a Christian presence in every community, through our congregations, our ordained and lay ministers, and our church buildings, and to contribute to the education of the next generation through our church schools. We shall continue to strive for greater cohesion in local communities, for better understanding between Christians and people of other faiths, and for the improvement of relations between all peoples.
Finally we give especial thanks for the particular care and attention which, as our Supreme Governor, You give us, and most of all for the example You have set of faithfulness to God in both Your public and Your private life. May His blessing rest now and always upon Your Majesty, upon Prince Philip and upon every member of the Royal Family.