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Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Queen and Duke of Edinburgh give thanks for 60 years of Christian marriage
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¬†To mark their Diamond Wedding Anniversary, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended an historic service of thanksgiving in Westminster Abbey yesterday. Queen Elizabeth II is the first British reigning monarch to celebrate her Diamond Wedding. Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten RN were married sixty years ago in the ancient Abbey, at 11.30 am on Thursday 20 November 1947, a welcome break from the bleak austerity of the grim post war years. On both occasions it was an overcast and wet morning in London with the sun breaking through as the Royal couple emerged from the Abbey to the joyful sound of the bells. The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Prince Harry, were among more than 30 members of the Royal Family present during the memorable and poignant 50-minute service. Prince William read from 1 John 4: 7-16, "Let us love one another, because love is from God". Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, was among the Church leaders present, but was not one of those chosen to say a special prayer for the Royal Couple. Dame Judi Dench read the poem "Diamond Wedding" ≠ written especially for the occasion by the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion. The 2,000 invited guests included Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former leaders Baroness Thatcher and Sir John Major. Around 500 members of Royal Household staff, past and present, attended, as well as representatives from the former Royal Yacht Britannia, the Royal Train and the Royal Squadron. In a thoughtful and challenging sermon the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams said: "Every marriage is an act of faith. When you think about it, the promise to be in the company of the same person for a lifetime is an extraordinary thing to undertake; it is a statement of trust in one another and in the future which can never be free of risk. "A couple undertaking Christian marriage express their trust not only in each other and the future but in God. "They declare that they expect there to be something for them to draw upon that is more than just their own strength, their own capacity to love; they open up their relationship to God's love, in the hope that when they face difficulties they will be able to offer one another more than simply their own individual words and feelings." The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh listened intently as the Archbishop of Canterbury emphasised: "Every marriage is a public event, but some couples have to live more than others in the full light of publicity. "We are probably more aware than ever these days of the pressures this brings. But it also means that we can give special thanks for the very public character of the witness and the sign offered to us by this marriage, and what it has meant to nation and Commonwealth over the decades. "Today we celebrate not only a marriage but the relationship between monarch and people of which also that marriage is a symbol: a relationship in which we see what levels of commitment are possible for someone upheld by a clear sense of God's calling and enabling, and the corresponding vision of the worthwhileness of this national and international family that is the Commonwealth, which has been the recipient of such unswerving service." At the end of the service the sound of the National Anthem filled every part of the ancient Benedictine Abbey church of St Peter's consecrated in 1065. Five choristers who sang at the 1947 Wedding Service in Westminster Abbey watched from the pews. As the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh left Westminster Abbey, they paused for a few moments to look at the marriage register that they signed as newlyweds. At the West Door, they met and spoke briefly with each of the specially invited couples from across the country married on the same day in 1947. Today, the day of their Diamond Wedding Anniversary, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh flew to Malta, the Mediterranean island where they lived as a young married couple from 1949-51 while the Duke was stationed there as a serving Royal Naval officer.
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