On Sunday I went to church in Kingston-upon-Thames. It was lovely to be in another ancient church surrounded by so much history – especially of the Kings of England. I say kings because it is where the Anglo-Saxon kings were crowned before the Norman invasion, and there were no queens in their own right. They were kings with the wonderful names of Aethelstan and Aethelred (who was unready, if you remember!) – and the gloriously named Eadwig. It seemed quite appropriate to sing ‘God save the King’ again in such a special setting.

The rector began his sermon by talking about the thousands of people who had queued for long hours to pay tribute to a more recent monarch, and their reasons for doing so. He talked about pilgrimage, about making a special journey, and more particularly about the sense of community and belonging that had emerged; about how we all feel a need to belong. He asked if any members of the congregation had been to the Lying in State. He interviewed several of them, and what struck me most was the diverse nationalities who spoke about their experience, and yet they all called the Late Queen their Queen. It was very moving and did more to make me feel as if I belonged to the Commonwealth of Nations than anything I have experienced in my life, which is slightly longer than the Queen’s reign.

The Queen is now in a totally different realm, none of us has the least idea of what this will be like, except by reading the words of the gospel teachings of Jesus where he tells us that all are welcome and all are celebrated – what an amazing community that will be, waiting for us at the end of the journey that is our life.

 [Jo Spray]