The world felt immense grief as the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was announced by Buckingham Palace on Friday 9 September, at 6:30 pm. In the wake of her passing, people from across the diocese have been paying tribute to her long reign, which spanned over 70 years, and touched the lives of many.
Mourners and members of the public were invited to leave messages in Books of Condolence at churches across the diocese, as well as to attend special services to remember the life of Queen Elizabeth II.
St Nicholas, Durweston with Bryanston, filled their church with flowers, bringing new life and the beauty of creation inside of their place of worship in her memory. Lesley Bryning, Churchwarden, said that the collection included “70 little jars of flowers,” one for each year of Her Majesty’s reign.
On Friday, Bishop Karen welcomed those of all ages and backgrounds to Sherborne Abbey to remember and reflect on the life of a Monarch who lived a life of faith, service and duty. They joined those around the world in lighting candles, singing hymns, and giving thanks for the Queen, as well praying for the King and members of the Royal Family in their grief. Jonathan Triffitt, Director of Mission and Ministry at the diocese, attended and described it as a “beautiful” and a “poignant” service.
A few days later on Sunday, at St Michael and All Angels, Urchfont, Bishop Stephen led a service of thanksgiving for the Queen. He was joined by many in remembering her with a “blessed and happy memory.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, at Wiltshire Council, representatives including the Chairman, and Chief Executive of the Council, also honoured the memory of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by laying a floral tribute beneath the flag at the County Hall in Trowbridge.
“It was a moving moment,” remarked Bishop Stephen, also noting that he was glad to be present alongside the High Sheriff and Bishop Andrew.
Hundreds of people also gathered around the Minster Green and Wimborne High Street for the Proclamation of the new King, where The Rector of Wimborne Minster, the Revd Canon Andrew Rowland, advised them all what was about to take place.
The Town Crier and the Mayor's Sergeant, Chris Brown, called for silence before Wimborne Town Mayor, Cllr Carol Butter, announced the Town Council Statement, which was followed by a reading of the official Proclamation. The event concluded with cheers of “God Save the King.”
The Revd Chris Beaumont, Lead Minister at Blandford Parish Church and the Mayor’s Chaplain, reflected on the pride he took in supporting the town in civic events this weekend.
“It’s been hard work,” said Chris, "but such a joy to open our doors to welcome the wider community to worship with us. As the Mayor’s Chaplain, I’ve been able to support the town in events such as paying respects through the tolling of the church bell on Friday, to the proclamation of accession on Sunday.”
Chris continued, “how we respond to these moments matter, because it shows that we are here for our wider communities in the significant moments.”
The Revd Gerry Lynch, Curate of St John’s with St Mary, Devizes, urged those of the Christian faith to remember the Queen’s personal faith. “Much is being said about Elizabeth the Queen, but little about Elizabeth the Christian,” he tweeted this weekend. “The faith she held teaches that God will raise her to eternal life and us, not because we have passed some cosmic exam of godly living, but as God keeps his promises.”
You can find a link to his sermon here: https://bit.ly/3Dq3qX0.
The Revd Margaret Preuss Higham tweeted “#GodSaveTheKing as so we move to another era. I changed to name of the monarch in our old service book at St Peter’s, Langton, Herring this morning”
Bishop Karen offered her prayers for the new King in a tweet on Saturday. “Our prayers today are for His Majesty King Charles III as he begins his reign,” she said. “We pray for God’s blessing on him, the Queen Consort and their family. May our King know the strength, comfort and peace of God now and always.”
Related local news can be found below:
Bishop Stephen, BBC Wilts: Queen Elizabeth II: Salisbury Bishop shares fond memories
Bishop Stephen, PlanetRadio: Charles proclaimed King in Wiltshire
Bishop Karen, BBC Solent: “What does the title 'Defender of the Faith' look like?” (13 September, starts at 1.10)