Why 67 is a number we can all celebrate tomorrow

PUBLISHED: 08:29 05 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:22 05 February 2018

The Queen arriving for the Sandringham WI meeting at West Newton Village Hall last month. Picture: Ian Burt

The Queen arriving for the Sandringham WI meeting at West Newton Village Hall last month. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

‘Long to reign over us’: The Rev Jack Burton salutes the Queen as she prepares to mark the 67th year of her reign.

Tomorrow will mark the anniversary of the Accession to the throne of Her Majesty the Queen and the opening of the 67th year of her historic reign.

Seldom can a prayerful petition have been honoured more fulsomely than in the Divine response to our National Anthem: ‘Long to reign over us.’

Our penchant for anniversaries runs deep and is not difficult to understand. Since last that special event was celebrated, the Earth has moved round the Sun, the four seasons have come and gone, and we are a year older and wiser.

More interesting is our liking for round numbers! I’m not a mathematician but even I can see there’s no particular logic in preferring 8 to 8.174 (for example).

I recall the excitement with which we celebrated our golden wedding. In contrast, a year later our 51st anniversary slipped by with a minimum of formal observance – though the occasion marked a longer period. My wife had put up with me for another year: her achievement had become even more remarkable.

In a context of national leaders and heads of state, the Queen’s length of service has acquired such stratospheric proportions that the anniversary of the Accession merits cordial celebration. She has put up with us for another year!

The value of long service is underestimated grossly in this age of high mobility, perpetual restlessness, and constant change. Length of service is not an automatic guarantee of wisdom, but often it supplies a unique and authoritative dimension of insight and experience to which there are no short-cuts. The continuity it provides is occasionally resented by the mean-spirited, but to the true of heart it is a source of reassurance.

My 35 years as a worker-priest was long enough for me to baptise infants of the second generation. To have worn the crown for nearly twice that period beggars the imagination.

Some images and memories have persisted a lifetime. The drawn face of King George VI waving the Princess off to Kenya, replaced days later by photographs of a Queen in mourning emerging from her airliner. One reign had ended at Sandringham; another had begun in Africa.

Few will question that the Queen’s contribution to the life of the nation has become only richer with the passing of the years and the unflagging support of a remarkable consort.

Precise instructions for Divinely-preferred forms of government don’t appear in the Bible (though there are plenty of hints and guiding principles)! But we can all salute faithfulness to duty, and an innings without parallel in our nation’s history.

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