Today is Queen Elizabeth’s Official Birthday. I’ve always thought it must be quite strange, being obliged to celebrate your birthday on a different date simply because it’s become traditional. Still, maybe having two birthdays is nice!
The Queen released a message today. It’s not about her at all. It’s about her country and the British people. It acknowledges the ‘very sombre national mood’ in the wake of recent tragedies here.
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.
Since I read it this morning, I’ve been thinking a lot about that phrase ‘without fear or favour’ and I think it’s rather wonderful.
Fear is a normal reaction to disaster and tragedy. When we see devastation and loss before us, we can feel overwhelmed and powerless to do anything to help or to stop that kind of thing happening again. It reminds us that we’re not in control. But doing something to help others at a time like this, whether it’s donating money to a relevant charity or volunteering your time to hand out food and clothes, does more than just help the person in front of you to get their life back on track. It reminds us, as a community, of our immense power for good. It’s one of our greatest weapons in the face of despair.
And then there’s that little word ‘favour’. That had me pondering for longer. One of the public reactions to the Grenfell Tower tragedy has been to ask how we as a country are failing the poorest people in society. My hope is that this will be a wake up call to compassion and decency over greed and profit-chasing. Let’s hold ourselves and others to account for how we treat people, even if we have nothing to gain from it.
I seriously doubt I could use my birthday to inspire others to courage and compassion the way the Queen has (in fairness, she has far more followers on Twitter than I do) but I love her message and the way it manages, amidst the tragedy, to look forward with hope.