My blog this week has to be about the momentous events of the last couple of weeks. For me, and many others, the death of the Queen at this time came as a shock, as she had only two days before welcomed a new Prime Minister.
When I heard the news on Thursday 8 September I was just about to address our first course of Volunteer Police Community Support Officers. I seriously thought about cancelling my opening address to them but reminded myself that the Constabulary works through rain and shine, 24/7, and public holidays, to keep us all safe. So on I went.
But the sudden emotion I felt when speaking publicly about the sad passing of our great Queen took me by surprise. Having sworn an oath of allegiance to the Queen when I served my long career as a soldier, her loss was real, and deeply felt.
“What counts is the difference we have made to the lives of others” – Nelson Mandela
I guess many of us, prompted by all the television and radio coverage surrounding her death, lying in state, and magnificent funeral have been encouraged to recall memories we may have of her. One of my personal favourite memories was in 2000, when she dined with my fellow officers at Woolwich, in her role as our Captain General, some 50 years after her father King George VI had done the same (I was sat opposite a retired officer who had also been there 50 years before!).
Last week the Constabulary worked hard to mark her passing with sincere respect. One special moment for me was witnessing the Chief Constable take his oath of allegiance for the new King – something he did not have to do, as his original oath when he was a young Constable was to the Sovereign – but it was an occasion rich in symbolism and history in the making.
Attending a commemoration and thanksgiving for the 70 year reign of the Queen at Gloucester Cathedral the day before her funeral was another special moment. Deeply moving, with beautiful hymns, and a lovely sermon from Bishop Rachel. She emphasised the faith, service and duty of our last monarch and also quoted the wise words of Nelson Mandela: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Indeed.