Saturday, 17 June 2017

The Queen's message that speaks for so many

One statement.  One expression of a whole country’s feelings. The heartfelt message from the Queen on her official birthday, talking of sombre mood, of being resolute, of being determined, summed up how many in the UK feel right now. As did the look of sadness and disbelief caught on her face as she arrived in west London on June 16th to visit those affected by the fire at Grenfell Tower which has claimed at least thirty lives. Right now, the Queen seems to reflect the mood of us all.

The statement which has touched a nerve came on her official birthday. So far, so traditional. But this message acknowledged from the very start the challenges these present days and weeks have presented to many and the sadness so many others have felt, watching on. ''Today is traditionally a day of celebration,'' the statement began before continuing ''This year, however, it is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood. In recent months, the country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies.'' These opening words put into focus just how the past three months have unfolded with the Queen going on to mention events in Manchester and London. But it was her resolution that really underlined how far in tune she is with the national mood. The statement finishes by saying ''Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity. United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.''

''Our sadness''. This is a unifying statement, reminding us of all that brings us together. The Queen is part of a national feeling, of a wave of sentiment that has found expression in this special statement. This is a message of ''we'' not ''I'', of togetherness with no gaps between speaker and listener. Just as we all understood the pain and disbelief on her face as she approached those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, so we all understand her words of resolution and determination. They are part of everyone right now.

This statement comes just hours after the announcement of the Queen's Birthday Honours list which recognises the bravery of PC Keith Palmer, awarded a posthumous George Medal for his actions during the Westminster Bridge attack on March 22nd in which he was stabbed to death. There is acknowledgement, too, for Bernard Kenny, who tried to help the murdered MP Jo Cox as she was attacked and for the two police officers who arrested her killer. Their recognition, like that given to two tourists who tried to help during the Sousse terror attacks of 2015 which claimed 38 lives, makes headlines around the world. 

Later today, the Queen will take the salute at Trooping the Colour. The reception is always strong but likely to be more so today as her statement filters through. It comes as the Prime Minister faces growing criticism over her response to the fire at Grenfell Tower.  The Queen, of course, will stay away from any political discussion. That said, her heartfelt words on her official birthday have touched a nerve with many. After months of sadness, to hear the Head of State reflect on the impact that has had on everyone is moving and provides a focal point for feelings that run high and leave many low. These royal words are special indeed and will continue to strike a chord for a long, long time to come.

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