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Mid-afternoon in Vancouver on Monday, May 3, 1971. The Queen is entering the city in a short motorcade, driving from her Royal Yacht moored at Tsawwassen to the City Hall where she will be formally welcomed. These welcomes will be repeated again and again as this royal tour of BC continues.  

About 2:30pm, our small daughter Moira has put on her Brownie uniform to go to see the Queen pass by. As her parents, we go with her on the two-block walk to Granville Street and wait with the small crowd that has gathered from the neighbourhood. Eventually the great moment arrives. The small motorcade appears, slows very slightly at the intersection and there, seated in the back seat of the large limousine, smiling and waving, is the Queen. There is a moment's clapping and waving and the great moment is over. 

What is interesting is the reaction of a seven-year-old Brownie. "But Mummy, the queen wasn’t wearing her crown!" So, you are seven and you go to see the Queen, you expect her to be wearing her crown. For a child the logic is unassailable. 

That same unassailable logic also expresses a harsh truth about being Royal. You cannot avoid becoming the prisoner of unnumbered expectations, from the expectation of a small girl that you never venture out without your crown, to that of the many Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Lord Mayors who wish you to continually travel the world so that your presence and your carefully chosen words will grace and give legitimacy to the opening of, it may be, a new session of a Parliament, or the opening  of such and such, a wonderful Exposition. The list of invitations is endless.   

To be crowned monarch is in many ways to become a prisoner of these expectations. To accept that imprisonment, yet at the same time to fulfill the demands of what we sometimes call “Majesty” in a way that wins the loyalty - even more, the deep affection - of three generations, is a colossal achievement.  To continue to do this through this most volatile of centuries, not to mention challenging and testing events in your own personal life, is nothing short of extraordinary.  

As the Queen moves through her late years, we see something beautiful happening. Assuming the Crown on that long ago day in Kenya, thousands of miles from home and family, still shaken by the sudden death of her beloved father King George VI, she has carried the  weight of the Crown’s vast responsibilities with a faithfulness that makes her present hold on that same Crown more firm than ever in her elderly hands. She has so lived these seven decades of her great office that she now embodies that office. She has so served that she embodies the Biblical concept of Servanthood. 

As she ages, one notices that the Queen must look up into the faces of most of those she encounters. I am certain that I am not the only one who also notices that her smile has become more radiant and more easily given, almost as if she feels able to free herself from the confines of the countless demands made upon her. Only a few days ago, as I saw her face light up at whatever had just been said to her, I thought of some lines of Rabindrinath Tagore, the great Bengali poet and essayist. 

I slept and dreamt that Life was Joy.

I awoke and saw that Life was Service.

I acted and behold, Service was Joy.

The Queen may know these lines. One thing we know very clearly is that she lives them. 

May God bless her.