The Family Together Again | Christian Mills
It was good to have the family together again.
Out in the garden were gathered no less than five generations, the old and the young together, as the sun shone overhead in the height of a balmy summer. The air was delightfully warm yet dry, the sun’s sharp glare softened by a softer breeze from over the hedgerows.
Under their shirts a glean of sweat was felt, yet that breeze and the drinks kept them cool and comfortable. Some sought shelter under the gable, others under the branches of an old apple tree or the shade of the hedge. Under the table two dogs wagged their tails and panted, thankful both for the shade and the occasional sausage passed to them by quick hands.
As children screamed in their chase up and down the law, barely missing a beleaguered relative carrying out drinks and an additional plate of snacks, the older generations discussed excitedly the prospects of a new monarch. The coronation was almost starting – a great TV had been set up in clear view of everyone so it could be broadcast live.
Flags and bunting hung from every perch. Bottles of sparkling wine had been placed in buckets of ice at the ready (for the older children it would be a rare treat) and a radio played music over the speakers.
For many this was the first time in a while they had to meet together. Some relatives had come from overseas, telling tales of distant lands and fantastic opportunities. Many owned their own businesses or conducted their own work.
One operated a small accounting firm between themselves and some friends. Another was an independent carpenter who made furniture. Another couple co-owned a shop trading locally made goods in foreign markets.
Those who could not operate their own ventures found work elsewhere in companies large and small. They received honest wages for honest work, treated like valued partners and assets rather than cogs in a machine. Every person came home knowing they could pay their dues and raise their families, no matter their profession.
Some were wealthy. Others merely got by. Not everyone could be rich, but no one was ever truly poor for long. Work and private life were in balance. All were satisfied. Their futures were safe. They had secured their prosperity.
The kingdom prospered and was content.
The older members of the party spoke fondly of how they remembered the new monarch’s birth being announced. Others excitedly spoke of how they grew up from a young heir into a proud representative of the nation. They spoke with an affection and joy that could easily have been given to a member of their own family.
And indeed, in their own way they were. The Royal Family was the nation’s family. Their achievements were the people’s achievements.
The nation together mourned when the old monarch passed away. Now they gathered to celebrate the new monarch’s accession.
For the younger members, more thought was put to what the new monarch may do now that their reign had begun. Would they stand up and take command of the country, guiding it like a ship through unknown waters? Or would they sit back and let Parliament handle itself, intervening only when necessary like an arbiter or referee?
“God knows,” one reveller commented, “Parliament could do with a sharp kick up the ar—” A quick glance spared to the children, who were possessed of overly sensitive hearing. “—Bottom.”
It was then that someone cried that the ceremony was starting, and all conversation hushed. Children were pulled onto parents’ laps. The radio was silenced. Someone made an utter failure of trying to smother the sound of pulling sweets from a plastic bag.
All watched, as the monarch emerged from their carriage and ventured at last from the streets of the city and into the vaunted Abbey as had so many before. An unbroken line stretching beyond into the mists of history and legend.
The ceremony begun.
Some in the audience were dimly aware of the significance of that event. Without quite realising it, a barrier had been lifted between the past, present, and future. The ceremony was not modern. Neither was it old.
It was timeless. It belonged to no particular point in history, and thus belonged to all history.
The moment stretched infinitely forwards and backwards. The silvery thread of tradition tying together countless generations of people, of many varied and diverse nations, all of whom stood in that moment to witness this eternal occasion of a nation receiving their sovereign.
The moment was sacred. A holy covenant between Heaven, the Crown, and the People.
The monarch stood before the presence of the Nation and of God. The Archbishop called them all together, heralding the dying of the heir and the birth of the monarch. The death of one era and the start of the new. The figure in ermine seemed so small before the Archbishop, even as the path ahead seemed so huge.
If they trembled, no one would likely blame them.
Somehow the world held its breath. Only the youngest of the family stirred. The leaves sighed as they moved with the wind. It seemed as though the moment would stretch on forever, even to the passing the sun and the eventual heat death of creation.
As the Archbishop raised his voice in prayer the family bowed their heads. Some spoke of an age where religion had almost passed away. The notion brought them to laughter. How absurd that man once thought his soul a conspiracy and God a malady. Religion was yet another binding of past and future, an unending musing to an unending mystery. A rock upon which the house of kingdoms were built.
The chorus of “Amen” brought them back into the present.
A veil hid the monarch from the most sacred parts of the ceremony. Oaths were sworn. Rituals observed. A person sanctified. The Bible was brought forth, presented, and its covenant sealed with a kiss.
Then at last the Crown was held high and descended. There was a cry, and beyond their garden could be heard its echo from every garden, every street, and every household across the country.
“God save The Queen!”
At last, she stood and turned, her pose now regal and assured. Her birth right had been affirmed; the people had cried out their consent. The nation’s family had its head and once more the future of the kingdom looked secure for yet another generation.
It was good to have the Family together again.