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Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022)

What's the story?

HM The Queen died at Balmoral Castle on 8th September 2022. She was 96 years old and had reigned for 70 years.  

On her twenty-first birthday, 21 April 1947, the then Princess Elizabeth was with her parents and younger sister on a tour of South Africa. In a speech broadcast on the radio from Cape Town, the Princess dedicated her life to the service of the Commonwealth.

I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.

With her death, an extraordinary life has come to an end.  It was a life of dedication and service which fully lived up to the promises she made.  It was also a life of faith and which resonates with the Apostle Paul's description of his own life.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful."  2 Timothy 4:7

Whilst its unlikely than anyone in you group knew the Queen personally her public profile, her status and longevity mean, that whilst the loss isn't the same as losing someone close to us, some of the emotions may feel similar.  It might seem slightly odd to mourn and grieve the passing of someone we didn't know personally but one of the attributes of The Queen, despite all the pomp and circumstance surround the monarchy, is that people felt they knew her.  She gave of herself in a way that meant that people could only respond with love and affection. Not everyone will mourn her passing in the same way - for some it may seem sad but irrelevant, for others it may be as if they have actually lost a member of their family.  It's important to respect people's feeling but recognise that this a moment of national significance and give the children and young people the opportunity to explore the reasons why.


How to introduce the story to your group

As with most events that have a significant impact on our lives, the lives of our children and young people and the nation as a whole, one of the best responses is to create opportunities for our groups to talk.  Here are some suggested activities that may help this process.  We haven't specifically indicated age suitability against the items but many may be adaptable to use with a range of age groups.

Remembering the Queen

Our friends at Go Chatter have created a short video which commemorates the Queen's extraordinary life.  Energize susbcribers can download a copy of the video for free.  Click below to find out more.

Remembering The Queen

 

Who was the Queen?

Explain to the group that you are going to spend some time remembering the life of Queen Elizabeth II. What can we learn from her and what examples should we follow?

What does the group about the Queen? Give the group a chance to answer:

Here are some facts about the Queen’s life:

  • Queen Elizabeth ruled Britain for over 70 years
  • She had four children and was married for 73 years
  • She welcomed 15 prime ministers as they lead Britain
  • Her first Prime Minister (Winston Churchill) was born in 1884.  Her last Prime Minster (Liz Truss) was born in 1975
  • When she was 14, she spoke words of encouragement to children over the radio during the World War II
  • She was a truck driver and mechanic during World War II
  • She met the astronauts who first landed on the moon
  • She celebrated with Britain when they won the World Cup in 1966
  • She was the most widely travelled monarch ever

Feelings

Give out some Post-it notes (or similar) and pens and ask the young people to write down words (one per note) or draw a picture that describes how they feel about the news that the Queen has died?

Ask them to stick them up on a space on a wall or a sheet of flipchart paper.  It doesn't matter if words or images are repeated.  Be clear that no one should be judgemental about how anyone else is feeling but ask the group if they are surprised by any of the words or pictures others have chosen. 

Explain that everyone is likely to have a different response to the news and we need to respect others' views whilst not supressing our own feelings.

Words

Bring in a collection of newspapers (or printouts from news websites) which feature stories on the Queen's death.  Give each member of your group a highlighter pen and some pages from the newspaper.  Ask them to look through the stories and use their highlighter pen to highlight words that describe what the Queen was like and what she achieved (eg. words like loyal, faithful, devoted etc.)

Ask everyone to share the words they have highlighted. Which words are repeated most?  What do they say about the Queen's character?

Lead an open discussion based around this question:

What do you think that a good King or Queen is like?

If the conversation dries up or goes off on a tangent, draw it back to these concepts:

  • Duty
  • Faithfulness
  • Nobility
  • Goodness
  • Kindness
  • Integrity

Ask the group to reflect on what words they would like (one day) to be used to remember them?

An unexpected challenge

Your young people may have watched the Queens’ speech at Christmas or heard about royal events on the news. Maybe some have seen the Queen in person - get them to share this experience. Why do your group think the Queen was such an inspiration to many people, and what made her life so remarkable?

Princess Elizabeth never expected to be Queen when she was growing up. Her uncle Edward was next in line to the throne, so she expected that he and any children he would have would be the future monarchs. However, much to her surprise, Edward abdicated – meaning he gave up the position of King! This meant that his brother, Elizabeth’s father, was the next King.

Elizabeth was only 27 when the crown passed to her – still quite young.

Have you ever had to take on an unexpected responsibility?

(allow the young people to have a discussion)

Responsibilities can be very daunting, especially when we aren’t expecting them. At these moments, we can choose who we will be – will we put our own wants and desires first? Will we do our jobs badly, or put off our duties? Or, will we do the best that we can with what we have, and give it our very best?

Queen Elizabeth decided to serve her country faithfully and to the best of her abilities. She never did anything to harm the British people; she treated everybody that she spoke to with dignity and kindness, she didn’t cause scandals and she remained Queen until the very end of her days.

Peace between the nations

Part of the job of any leader of a country is to guide them in times of war and times of peace.

Before Queen Elizabeth was first crowned, Britain had an Empire, meaning that it ruled over lots of other countries. Over the decades, many of those countries gained independence, but wanted to stay linked to Britain– this is how the commonwealth was formed.

We had the Commonwealth games recently – the commonwealth is a group of free and equal countries. The Queen was the Head of the Commonwealth, and saw it grow from just 8 members at the start of her reign to 54 now. This meant that she visited all these countries, and helped them to remain on friendly terms with Britain.

Have you ever had to keep peace between a large group of friends? This can be very hard, especially if the friends have complex relationships with one another.

The Bible says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Being loyal to others and consistently kind will help you to keep peace.

Well done, faithful servant

Queen Elizabeth had a strong faith in Jesus and she often spoke about how the Bible inspired her. She often used her times for speaking publicly to point to Jesus:

 I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.

It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.

For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. 

I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God!

Have the young people read out the quotes and discuss in pairs which quotes they like the most and why.

Say: even when we have only a few friends listening – let alone an entire country! – it takes a lot of courage to talk about how our faith affects our lives. We may not be kings and queens, but we can take the opportunity whenever someone asks us what we think to speak out about Jesus. It’s important to speak about what we believe, and to those that do, Jesus says “well done, good and faithful servant.”

Saying goodbye

Your group may have noticed that many people are grieving and feeling down about the Queen’s passing. This may be confusing to you – after all, it’s unlikely that they knew her personally! Or perhaps you have experienced a sense of loss and can empathise with what the nation is going through. Let’s watch this video about the life of Queen Elizabeth to see how others are saying goodbye:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyNTbjLx9Gw

 

Ask the young people what they liked about the Queen, drawing on the video if they would like to.

Say: Although it is natural to feel sad when somebody leaves us, it’s also good to celebrate their lives and give thanks for them.

The memory of the righteous is a blessing (Proverbs 10:7)

Share the Apostle Paul's reflections on his own life from 2 Timothy 4:7 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful." 

Ask the group to what extent could be applied to the life of The Queen.

Give each young person a piece of paper. Ask them to write a prayer of thankfulness for something they have learnt about the Queen’s reign.

A prayer to use with children

God, Our Father,
all through our country,
we are sad at this time,
because our Queen is no longer with us.

She will be missed by so very many,
but we know that you are looking after her.
Bless those close to her.
May they know they are remembered by us.
And bless our country at this time of change.
May we all work together as one family,
and be ready to serve others,
as our Queen served us.
In Jesus' name we ask it.
Amen.

churchofscotland.org

What happens next?

And so, a new chapter in history begins, with a new King - Charles III.

Hand out pennies, preferably newish but not minted after 2022.

Say: this is a takeaway souvenir to help you remember. One side (with the Queen’s image) represents something that you are grateful for having happened. The other represents something you are hopeful will happen in the next few years.


For young people who have experienced the loss of someone close to them topics like this can stir up many memories and emotions. There are a series of training blogs in our Hot Topics section which explore the topic of helping young people cope with loss.

LOSS TRAINING BLOGS

These blogs are set to be be available without having a log in to Energize so please feel free to share the following link with parents or others if you feel that thet would be helpful:

https://www.energize.uk.net/training-articles/what_is_loss

You may also find helpful information about loss and grief on the following sites:

https://www.nya.org.uk/resources-on-grief-and-bereavement/

https://www.youngminds.org.uk/parent/parents-a-z-mental-health-guide/grief-and-loss/

https://www.childbereavementuk.org/


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