OPINION: Queen's Green Canopy is apt way of showing appreciation for monarch
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Recently I was privileged to accompany The Princess Royal – as part of my duties as Lord-Lieutenant - when she visited the World Horse Welfare Centre at Snetterton. Blue skies and sunshine glistened over the farm during this most happy of visits.
Quite apart from the extraordinary rehoming work done by WHW, it took me to one of the prettiest corners of this stunning county of ours - the centre nestling beside the village church surrounded by rolling fields, punctuated as they are, by majestic and ancient trees.
Ancient trees that David Attenborough describes as: "Infinitely precious. There is little else on earth that plays host to such a rich community of life within a single living organism."
What a joy then to welcome the Queen’s Green Canopy, an initiative launched by the Prince of Wales earlier this week to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year.
Or “Jubitree” as the prince so aptly called it.
In any event, what could be a more glorious and appropriate way for the nation to show their pride and affection for Her Majesty than to appropriately re-tree swathes of urban sites and countryside alike.
Here at home, we have a particular Oak Tree, which is over 500 years old – spanning the reigns of both Queen Elizabeth 1 and Queen Elizabeth II.
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Throughout history, trees have filled us with wonder, firing our imaginations and providing a majestic example of strength and perseverance in the face of adversity. Not unlike our beloved monarch herself me-thinks; and surely no less than now.
Mother Julian of Norwich knew a thing or two about resilience and perseverance too.
She has been hailed by many as patron saint of our recent pandemic, and not without good cause.
It is hard to imagine the horrors of the Black death. At least half of Britain’s population died in wave after wave of disease, sometimes literally falling where they stood.
Living as an Anchoress in the City, at a time when the country was exhausted and impoverished by years of war, of turbulence in the church, and set against a backdrop of the plague (sounds familiar?) the message transmitted by Mother Julian across the centuries is as optimistic and relevant today as it was back then.
‘And all shall be well’ she assures us ‘And all shall be well. And all manner of thing shall be well’.
I was reflecting on Julian’s words from 600 years ago, during the stunning performance of The Britten Sinfonia in Norwich Cathedral, at the opening of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
The playlist took us seamlessly, vibrantly, hauntingly across the centuries and back. The voice of the past spoke as profoundly and relevantly as did the eclectic, mesmerising performance of today’s, extraordinarily gifted, Abel Selaocoe – the South African cellist. Some voices stand the test of time indeed.
"Of all man’s works of art, a cathedral is the greatest. Yet a vast and majestic tree is greater still."
So claimed the American nineteenth century social reformer and clergyman, H W Beecher.
And so, we return to the glory of trees - and to the Platinum Jubilee Celebration in the form of the Queen's Green Canopy.
As we know, Her Majesty has a much-loved home in Sandringham House, while Prince Philip chose to live at Wood Farm until the months before he died.
There can be no better way for Norfolk to express our deep gratitude and abiding affection for Her Majesty than by the generous planting of trees.
Planting extensively, planting imaginatively and planting well – thus replenishing and enhancing the health of the planet, while ensuring untold pleasure for generations to come.
After all, ‘a seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible.’ And be it seed or sapling, there has been no shortage of rain for sure. All we need now is some sunshine please!
For more information see www.queensgreencanopy.org
The Lady Dannatt MBE, IS HM Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk