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Letter from the Rectory - June 2022

Dear Friends,

This month we of course celebrate a unique event in British history. For all of us under the age of 75, the Queen’s presence has been a continuing thread throughout our lives. Many of the traditional institutions in this country have encountered major challenges in recent decades; the Monarchy is no exception. Whilst presenting a consistent public persona, it is perhaps the little insights into the Queen’s character that reveal how she has managed to maintain her popularity in a changing world.

At the Royal Variety Performance in 1964, the Queen was introduced to Tommy Cooper, the uninhibited, fez-wearing comedian. He asked her whether she minded answering a personal question. She replied that she didn’t, but that she might not be able to give him a full answer. “Do you like football?” asked Cooper. “Well, not really,” the Queen replied. “In that case, do you mind if I have your Cup Final tickets?” It is not a question anyone would bother asking her grandson William, but it was an astute and gracious answer, being open whilst protecting her privacy.

The Queen receives thousands of letters and cards. Every year from 1952, Albert Alfred Simes sent a Christmas card to the reigning monarch from Izmir in Turkey. In 1972, he was invited to meet the Queen at a reception there. His grandson Andrew later recalled, ‘When it was his turn to be introduced to the Queen, instead of a formal handshake, she paused, smiled and said, “So, it’s you who keeps sending me those lovely Christmas cards.” After Albert died in 2011 aged 102, his grandson sent a Christmas card to the Queen. The following January, he received a letter from Buckingham Place: ‘When I received a letter from a different Simes this Christmas, I instructed my office to research your grandfather’s whereabouts. Therefore it is with much sadness I have learned of his passing, and extend my condolences to you and your family.’ To retain such a memory for detail and to show such care for individuals is remarkable.

On a very different note, many of us watched the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games and couldn’t quite believe that it really was Her Majesty walking down the corridors of Buckingham Palace with Daniel Craig; the presence of the corgis confirmed it.

In the New Testament, we read, ‘Show proper respect to everyone: love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king’ (1 Peter 2:17).

James Campbell