On the day of her funeral, the British sovereign has given us all something to reflect upon.
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Millions of people tuned in from around the world to look at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. While we don’t know exactly how many people watched her splendid send-off (the estimation is over 4 billion people), it is believed that the event had a record-breaking global audience.
In Westminster Abbey there was also an unprecedented gathering of world leaders and members of royalty from far and wide, come to bid farewell to the late Queen. For over an hour these leaders were united in paying their respects. It was as if the famously diplomatic Queen was on an ultimate mission: to bring us all peacefully together, if only for a short moment in time.
Yet, the unity went much further than those gathered physically or virtually under the vaulted roof of the ancient abbey.
Since Elizabeth II’s death, London has been jam-packed with mourners wishing to pay their respects. Hundreds of thousands stayed up all night in the now-legendary “Queue” to see the Queen lie-in-state.
In fact many said that they formed friendships in the long queue that would last a lifetime, with even a potential love match! And of course, soccer legend David Beckham declined the offer to skip the queue and spent 13 hours along with others, united in grief.
There has also been a unity of faiths and cultures. While London already has a rich mix of cultures, people traveled from all over the world to pay their respects. If you watched the live stream of the queue, you’ll have seen people approach the Queen’s coffin with respect; many dressed in mourning clothes, curtsied, bowed, made signs of the cross, or made gestures true to their own religion. For a moment in time people proudly shared their religious beliefs for all to see, and they were welcomed.
This general unity has also come about in less obvious ways as a result of the record-breaking monarch’s death. The Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, shared with Sky News this morning how King Charles III had brought together religious leaders.
Initially, Rabbi Mervis didn’t believe he would be able to go as the meeting fell on the Sabbath. Not only did the palace bring the meeting forward, Rabbi Mervis explained that King Charles was most anxious that he be back home in time for the start of Sabbath. It’s exactly this level of thoughtfulness that we display towards others that fundamentally unites us.
The streets have also been crowded with people wanting to catch a glimpse of the procession, or to welcome their new king. There have been people comforting each other in their shared grief. And interestingly there have been multiple choruses of “God save the king!”
Perhaps some people have genuinely beseeched God to protect the new King Charles III, while others may have unwittingly called on our Heavenly Father, unaware that their cries are a short prayer. If this is the case, then along with the meaningful choice of lessons, hymns, psalms and religious rituals, millions have witnessed the beauty of faith, and how we can all unite as God’s children.