The Imperial State Crown was crafted in 1937 for the coronation of George VI,
to replace the heavier crown worn by Queen Victoria.
The Imperial State Crown sparkles with nearly 3,000 stones,
including 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires,
11 emeralds, and five rubies.
It is a priceless symbol of monarchy,
displayed significantly in these last days on top of the Royal Coffin.
It might be lighter than the crown worn by Queen Victoria,
but the weight of the Imperial State Crown is still heavy,
As the crown sits above the Queen’s body,
so she who wore that crown experienced the weight,
the isolation, the heavy responsibility of monarchy.
Prince Philip was her rock, her constant companion, but it was Elizabeth alone who bore the weight of her heavy responsibility.
A particularly weighty year for Queen Elizabeth was 1992,
a year she referred to as her “Annus Horribilus”.
At the Lord Mayor’s Banquet she spoke with reserved passion
and with tears in her eyes :
“1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure!”
It was wrecked by the collapse of three of her children's marriages — Princess Ann & Captain Mark Phillips, Prince Andrew and Fergie, and most public of all, the-then Prince Charles to Princess Diana with a succession of media leaks, leading to their separation at the end of 1992.
And to finish – the awful fire that severely damaged her Windsor Castle home. It was a year where the Royal Family seemed to
lurch from one disaster to the next.
For us - such a year can go one of two ways when it comes to faith:
An “annus horribilis” can make us more reliant on Christ or atheist.
It is clear from the Queen’s Christmas Messages that followed this horrible time that she became more and more reliant on God.
“I know just how much I rely on my own faith
to guide me through the good times and the bad,
….and put my trust in God.” (Christmas message, 2002)
She who by accident of birth found herself bearing the weight of the Imperial Crown, came to put her trust more and more in the One
who was crowned with thorns, Jesus Christ, King of Kings.
In that week we know as “Holy”,
The King of Kings suffered the greatest indignities –
Pilate patronised Him and treated Him with sarcasm;
The soldiers tried to make a fool of Him by dressing Him up in pseudo-Kingly costume, and then that final indignity,
the Crown of Thorns, with toxic prongs
to add to the pain of scourging.
This was no way to treat a King, let alone the King of Kings.
Early Christians applied the following psalm to Christ, ‘the Son of David’
and therefore the understanding of coronation itself deepened.
PSALM 21 - THE King shall rejoice in thy strength, O Lord:
exceeding glad shall he be of thy salvation.
For thou shalt prevent him with the blessings of goodness:
and shalt set a crown of pure gold upon his head.
He asked life of thee, and thou gavest him a long life:
even for ever and ever.
Before Christ wears the golden crown prophesied in this psalm,
Christ, the true Messiah, comes to suffer with his creation
and to wear the crown of thorns, the Corona Spina
as it was called in Latin.
For the word corona which we have learned to dread,
is there in the word coronation,
and surely part of Christ’s Corona Spina
is this current coronavirus crisis,
for he enters into our suffering
that we might enter into his glory.” (Malcolm Guite)
Throughout the trials and tribulations of her reign,
the Queen has acknowledged that her faith in the King of Kings
has been a significant source of strength
amidst the gruelling demands and pressures
of this role that was thrust upon her.
She saw herself as answerable to a higher power,
which gave her perspective and humility.
We have much to learn from her as Christians.
Hers was a simple faith of daily prayer and Scripture,
and a desire to let the King of Kings
reign from the throne of her heart and mind.