Delivered at Souda Bay Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery,
Souda, Crete, Greece
September 16, 2022, 10:00 am
We are gathered here on hallowed ground – ground that is holy not because of consecratory prayers made by a vicar or chaplain, or because it was a gift from the Greek nation to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but because it contains the earthly remains of over 1700 young men who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as other parts of the Commonwealth.
For that reason it is right for us to gather here to give thanks for the life, service, and witness of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. There is no place on this island that has a stronger connection to the Crown.
A second reason for us to gather in this place is that Her Majesty was the Commander-in-Chief of the various armed forces. She was the Colonel-in-Chief of multiple regiments, both in the UK and in other nations of the Commonwealth. She was the wife, mother, and grandmother of people who served in the Forces. She presented new regimental colours and annually trooped the colours of her guards. She attended countless commemorations of battles and wars. She attended military graduation ceremonies, and those serving made their oaths to her. All officers’ commissions were given in her name. She was the lead mourner on Remembrance Day. I suspect that in her weekly meetings with UK Prime Ministers she was a quiet advocate for the serving members of the Armed Forces and veterans. In a multitude of ways she supported those who defended the nation.
But there is a third reason as to why it is right for us to gather in the presence of those buried here in this cemetery – she, also, served in the Second World War. Of course, as a teenager and a female her service was restricted, and she never saw battle. However, she participated as much as she could – as part of the Auxiliary Territorial Service. I would not be surprised if, of all of the ranks she carried in her long life, she was most proud of having been a Second Subaltern and Junior Commander in the ATS.
So let us give thanks and commit to God Junior Commander Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, our late Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth.
Prayers and Blessing
1 – A prayer of thanksgiving
Eternal God, our heavenly Father, we bless your holy name
for all that you have given us in and through
the life of your servant Queen Elizabeth.
We give you thanks:
for her love of family and her gift of friendship;
for her devotion to the United Kingdom and the
nations of the Commonwealth;
for her grace, dignity and courtesy
and for her generosity and love of life.
We praise you for:
the courage that she showed in testing times;
the depth and of her Christian faith;
and the witness she bore to it in word and deed.
Accept our thanks and praise, we pray, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
2 – A prayer of commendation
God our creator and redeemer,
by your power Christ conquered death
and returned to you in glory.
Confident of his victory
and claiming his promises,
we entrust your servant Elizabeth into your keeping
in the name of Jesus our Lord,
who, though he died, is now alive
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen. Common Worship*
3 – A prayer for those who mourn
Father of all mercies and God of all consolation,
you pursue us with untiring love
and dispel the shadow of death
with the bright dawn of life.
Give courage to the Royal Family
in their loss and sorrow.
Be their refuge and strength, O Lord;
reassure them of your continuing love
and lift them from the depths of grief
into the peace and light of your presence.
Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
by dying has destroyed our death,
and by rising, restored our life.
Your Holy Spirit, our comforter,
speaks for us in groans too deep for words.
Come alongside your people,
remind them of your eternal presence
and give them your comfort and strength. Amen. Common Worship*
4 – A prayer for the new King
you provide for your people by your power,
and rule over them in love:
Grant to your servant our King
the Spirit of wisdom and discernment,
that being devoted to you with his whole heart,
he may so wisely govern,
that in his time we may live in safety and in peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Adapted from the Coronation Service 1953
God grant to the living, grace;
to the departed, rest;
to the Church, the King, the Commonwealth,
and all humankind,
peace and concord;
and to us and all his servants, life everlasting;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.
May the memory of our late Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second, whom we honour this day, be a blessing for us this day and always. Go in peace, in the name of Christ. Amen.