This month the village of Groombridge joins the nation and the Commonwealth in celebrating the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Parish Council wanted to send a gift to the Queen from the village and decided on a ‘holding’ cross which Colleen Thirkell beautifully fashioned from Groombridge oak.
A holding cross fits the shape of one’s hand, and can be used as an aid to prayer, or just held on to when life is tough and we don’t know what else to do. The cross was blessed at the St George’s Parade Service in April.
The Parish Council thought that a cross would be appropriate because our Queen is a Christian monarch; her official ecclesiastical title is 'Defender of the Faith’ which dates from the time of Henry VIII. If you look on the reverse side of our coinage you will see the letters ELIZABETH II D.G.REG.F.D. which reads in Latin Dei Gratia Regina Fidei Defensor, and translated means "Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen and Defender of the Faith". There was a public outcry when the letters “D.G” were omitted from the “Godless” Florin in 1849 in an early attempt at decimalisation, and the new coin had to be re-struck. Today, our country is more culturally diverse and such an offence might pass unnoticed; perhaps that title may not be inherited by so many of the Queen’s successors.
The Queen is a woman of faith, she is a regular worshipper, and the values of goodness, truth, justice and peace have influenced her leadership style. In her Christmas message for 2015, the Queen gave thanks for all that was good in her life but she also remembered those less fortunate. Speaking of Jesus she said "Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ's unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another.” How many other world leaders would speak such words to their people?
And so, let us give thanks for our Queen in the words of the Book of Common Prayer (1955): ‘We beseech thee also to save and defend … thy servant Elizabeth our Queen; that under her we may be godly and quietly governed’.