A Golden Speech from Elizabeth 1 relevant for today
On the 30th November , 1601, the First Queen Elizabeth went to Parliament and addressed 141 Members.
She had been on the throne for almost 50 years and unbeknown to all present it would be her last visit to Parliament.
The Speaker and other members thought that she would address Parliament about a number of economic concerns. In the event, her words were on an entirely different topic.
She was to die in 1603, handing the Throne over to James 1st (6th of Scotland). In the intervening period she never addressed Parliament again.
The 1601 speech has become known as the ‘Golden Speech’, not least because, in it, she tried to show how much she loved the English people. There are two particular passages relating to this:
The Queen opened with these words:
Mr Speaker… I do assure you there is no prince that loves his subjects better, or whose love can countervail our love. There is no jewel, be it of never so rich a price, which I set before this jewel: I mean your love. For I do esteem it more than any treasure or riches; for that we know how to prize, but love and thanks I count invaluable. And, though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my Crown, that I have reigned with your loves. This makes me that I do not so much rejoice that God hath made me to be a Queen, as to be a Queen over so thankful a people.
She ended with these words:
I know the title of a King is a glorious title, but assure yourself that the shining glory of princely authority hath not so dazzled the eyes of our understanding,
To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it. For myself I was never so much enticed with the glorious name of a King or royal authority of a Queen as delighted that God hath made me his instrument to maintain his truth and glory and to defend his kingdom
There will never Queen sit in my seat with more zeal to my country, care to my subjects and that will sooner with willingness venture her life for your good and safety than myself. For it is my desire to live nor reign no longer than my life and reign shall be for your good. And though you have had, and may have, many princes more mighty and wise sitting in this seat, yet you never had nor shall have, any that will be more careful and loving.
That description of Queen Elizabeth the First about herself are doubtless true but hearing them and then reading them on the day of Her Majesty’s funeral make them all the more poignant. They are sentiments so easily applicable to our late Queen Elizabeth and more, but they need no speech from her in Parliament or anywhere else. The above Photograph released yesterday, says it all.
What we have witnessed over the 12 days since Queen Elizabeth died on September 8th is a tremendous outpouring of love, in words, in deeds, in tributes, through what is now known as ‘The Queue’ where people from all over the United Kingdom and beyond queued for hours on end, day and night to file reverently passed her coffin.
The services, processions, ceremonies and times of quiet reflection all add up to an enfolding of love for a Royal Family in deep mourning and for a United Kingdom in grief.
I can happily use the word ‘myriad’ to describe the love we have for our 70 years of a ministry of love which is simply amazing. Her faith, her words and deeds, her concern for us has done so much to teach us the meaning of love and service, of joy and duty, of letting light flood into our society, especially when we are at our darkest. Well might we apply Queen Elizabeth First’s words to our own Queen and know its truth.
Never have we had, nor shall have, any that will be more careful and loving.