With the recent announcement made by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on her intent to abdicate later this year and today’s shock announcement made by Pope Benedict XVI on his intent to also resign from his post as head of the Catholic Church at the end of this month one is reminded of the vow of a lifetime of service made by our queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
On The Queen’s 21st birthday, only years before she would become queen after her father’s sudden death after facing illness likely due to smoking, the young Princess Elizabeth gave a speech to the United Kingdom and the world from Cape Town, South Africa where she stated that
This is a happy day for me; but it is also one that brings serious thoughts, thoughts of life looming ahead with all its challenges and with all its opportunity.
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.
It was then, for the first time that the world saw that the future Queen of England would
indeed give her life to the service of her people and in 2012 her people and her family celebrated this devotion in the form of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.
Years later, in the first ever televised Christmas Broadcast made by an English monarch, The Queen reiterated her vow of service to her people, nation and the Commonwealth.
Twenty-five years ago my grandfather broadcast the first of these Christmas messages. Today is another landmark because television has made it possible for many of you to see me in your homes on Christmas Day. My own family often gather round to watch television as they are this moment, and that is how I imagine you now.
Today things are very different. I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else, I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.
Once again, the world saw that The Queen would serve her people to the best of her ability and for as long as she possibly could.
For this reason, most who watch the Royal Family of the United Kingdom do not believe that Her Majesty will ever abdicate and for that, we thank her.
The Guardian’s article on Queen Beatrix’s abdication
BBC’s article on the Pope’s impending resignation