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The Queen Mother

The Cheers of Her Forces


By Carter B. Horsley

April 9, 2002. Westminster Abbey. London.

A coffin - draped with so brightly colored symbols and emblems and topped by a crown,

Borne so steadily, so measuredly, into and out of the church

As erect uniforms lined the way and heads of states bowed -

Was England's focus today although much of the world was distracted by problems in the Mid-East.

Outside the abbey, Londoners sang the hymns as did the royal family inside.

It was another ceremony of state, another circumstance,

Conducted, of course, with civilized pomp,

Befitting the celebration of the life of the Queen Mother,

Who had died 10 days before at the age of 101.

The pageantry of her funeral was restrained.

The Archbishop of Canterbury appropriately spoke of "strength, dignity and laughter"

And quoted Proverbs about grace and graciousness.

With her radiant smile and slight tilt of her head,

The Queen Mother was the bedrock heart of England

And what remains of Western European civilization and traditions.

She was the most beloved woman on earth, the embodiment of nobility,

The matriarch who let her daughter succeed her to England's throne half a century before.

Other great women may have been more saintly or more stirring,

But the Queen Mother was deeply cherished for being so wonderfully proper

In the most respected sense, in the very best taste: she was the visible face of noblesse oblige.

A lone Lancaster bomber and two Spitfire fighters crossed the Mall

As her hearst began her last journey to Windsor Castle, a fitting tribute to her leadership during the Battle of Britain.

The music at the ceremony was strangely not glorious and inside the abbey ended curtly with a trumpet fanfare

But as the coffin it was greeted by the blaring of 128 bagpipers and a few moments later

As the cortege began to move away a band played England's great national anthem.

The blue sashes. The ribboned medals. The checkerboard marble floor of the abbey.



Celebrities come and go but the simple, enduring legacy of the Queen Mother is her beatific smile,

The smile that reassures us that love is possible, love is real, love is important.


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