Television documentaries about Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the days after her death have done much to focus our minds on the achievements of our Monarch over her lifetime of service.
The impact of her life is immeasurable; always a steady and respected influence as both an international diplomat and latterly the nation’s favourite caring grandmother.
Now that we have witnessed her state funeral it is time to look forward to the reign of King Charles III, and to take with us memories of the late Queen; the only Queen most of us have ever known.
Like everyone, I am still trying to process the very sad news of her passing. After more than 70 years on the throne it seems inconceivable that she is no longer our Monarch, and yet the transition to the reign of King Charles III is seamlessly under way.
Although I never met the Queen, I was on duty for her visit to Lincoln in 1980 and privately attended her Silver and Diamond Jubilee celebrations with members of my family. I felt somehow that I knew her, just, as I suspect, did you.
I swore an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty as a Police Officer in 1978 and, like thousands of others, have felt a very strong bond to both her and the Royal Family over the years.
On Thursday 20th April 2000, my late mother was a recipient of Maundy Money when The Queen was present at the annual service taking place at Lincoln Cathedral. My mother, an ardent supporter of the Royal Family, defied all the protocols and managed to shake hands and have a long chat with Her Majesty. Mother was 78 at the time, and it was her proudest-ever moment.
Outside the Cathedral, my son and I watched as The Queen walked to the County Assembly Rooms for a reception. My son took the photo, right, which is as treasured in our family as the Maundy Money itself as a timeless reminder both of a very special day and of our magnificent Queen, who always put service to the country above herself.
In this time of extreme sadness, it is right that we take time to reflect on the past, and I know many Freemasons will have personal memories to treasure and share.
I hope my recollections will spark similar personal thoughts for you as we look to the future, in the service of our new King, with optimism and hope.
Rest in Peace your Majesty.
God Save the King.
Dave Wheeler, Provincial Grand Master/Most Excellent Grand Superintendent