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What are the marks of true royalty?

One of my earliest memories is of being hoisted on my father’s shoulders in the midst of a heaving crowd at Ballymena Railway station, while a kindly man in the crowd held my sister aloft to see a diminutive figure on a distant stage.

The newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth II was making a whistle-stop tour of her United Kingdom, and our dutiful parents had determined that they — and we – should not miss an historic event. Seventy years on, we celebrate a remarkable reign discharged with enviable faithfulness. It is worth pausing to reflect on the marks of true royalty.

In the last days of his life Jesus of Nazareth was on trial before the Roman governor.

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Pontius Pilate had got wind of certain rumours that the prisoner before him laid claim to being some kind of a king. Observing the pale, bound prisoner, whose handful of followers had fled, he spat out a contemptuous question, ‘Are you a king, then? (John 18;37).

Rev David Clarke

A king - or queen - has loyal followers. Her Majesty has millions in all corners of the globe who pledge their loyalty to her, and who will miss her sorely when she is eventually taken from us.

Jesus, who appeared forsaken as he stood before Pilate, has millions across the globe today who gladly sing, ‘Jesus, the name high over all’.

Besides, he has had many who willingly laid down their lives in his service. Oscar Romero was a Roman Catholic Archbishop in El Salvador. He spoke out boldly against the corruption in his country where the national wealth is in the hands of a mere 14 families. For his bold protests against the regime, he was shot dead while celebrating mass.

He is just one whose supreme loyalty is to ‘another king, one Jesus’ (Acts 17;7).

Kings and queens also possess a natural dignity.

While the poet Andrew Marvell sang the praises of Oliver Cromwell, he took time to mention the dignity with which King Charles I faced his execution, writing, ‘He nothing common did or mean, upon that memorable scene’.

We have often admired the dignity of Elizabeth II, always the epitome of poise and grace. The dignity of Jesus is seen in the compassion he displayed to the needy, his patience with the common people, who ‘heard him gladly’(Mark 12;37), and even towards those who caused his death, saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’( Luke 23;34).

Kings and queens are also aware of their role.

The young Princess Elizabeth publicly pledged herself to the service of the British people. King Jesus pledged himself to do the will of his Father.

‘My food,’ he said, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work (John 4; 34). That note of service is the badge of true royalty, whether crowned or not.

We give thanks for the service of Her Majesty, and we give thanks for Jesus, the King of Kings.

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