Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Thursday 8th September. Though Her Majesty was 96 years of age, her death nevertheless came unexpectedly. It brought into operation the centuries old tradition and duty of the High Sheriffs to read out the Proclamation of the Accession of the new monarch. For the County of Surrey, this took place on the steps of Guildford Cathedral on Sunday 11th September. Such an event had not taken place for seventy years and, although preparations had been made, a special committee was speedily convened to hold meetings and resolve all the issues regarding the Proclamation and the Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving for the life of Her late Majesty.
At 1 pm the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey Michael More-Molyneux, Vice Lord-Lieutenant Sir Stephen Lamport GCVO DL, the High Sheriff of Surrey His Honour Christopher Critchlow DL, the Bishop of Guildford, the Dean, Deputy Lieutenants of Surrey, the Hon. Recorder of Guildford HHJ Fraser MVO DL, Judges, JPs, Surrey MPs, the Chairman and Leader of Surrey County Council, the Mayors of the county boroughs and towns, the Chief Constable of Surrey, members of the Armed Forces, the choir of the cathedral, many other dignitaries and members of the public of all ages, stood on, beside, or in front of the steps at the west entrance to the cathedral. The flag was at full mast and would be lowered to half mast after the Proclamation.
The Dean, the Very Reverend Dianna Gwilliams DL, welcomed everybody. The High Sheriff gave an introductory address, referring to the Accession Council and the history of the Proclamation. He then spoke the Proclamation, including these very fine words:
“Do now hereby with one voice and Consent of Tongue and Heart publish and proclaim that The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George is now, by the Death of our late Sovereign of Happy Memory, become our only lawful and rightful Liege Lord Charles the Third, by the Grace of God……….King, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, to whom we do acknowledge all Faith, and Obedience with Humble Affection; beseeching God by whom Kings and Queens do reign to bless His Majesty with long and happy years to reign over us.”
Having finished the Proclamation the High Sheriff cried out “God Save The King”, which was resoundingly repeated by all in attendance.
The Lord Lieutenant thanked everyone for attending and congratulated the Dean, the Chapter and the cathedral team as well as the Under Sheriff Caroline Breckell MVO DL, upon their intensive work which, in such a short time, ensured everything was ready for this historic occasion. The choir then led the singing of the National Anthem, no doubt everybody mindful of not uttering out of habit “God save the Queen”. The ceremony concluded with the High Sheriff calling for Three Cheers for His Majesty the King. The cheers for King Charles III rang out.
Finally, the High Sheriff handed out copies of the Proclamation to the Mayors, most of whom had to depart immediately for their boroughs in order to hold their own Proclamation ceremonies later in the afternoon.
Before the Service commenced, anyone who wished to do so, was able to write down their words of condolence on special sheets of paper. All the sheets are to be made into a Book of Condolence.
The Service of Commemoration at 2pm that same afternoon gave thanks to God for the life and reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, especially for her many years of faithful and dedicated service. The choir was in glorious form, beautifully singing two Anthems. The congregation noted that the hymn “O thou who camest from above” was one of the Queen’s favourites.
The Lord Lieutenant’s Address was moving, as he described the unique achievements of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and what she had meant to her realm, to the Commonwealth and to the world. His words, recalling the glorious reign of the finest of monarchs, encapsulated the feelings of those present, the vast majority of whom have known no other sovereign. The National Anthem was again sung with gusto.
Long Live the King! Long may he reign over us!
(The Proclamation may be watched on YouTube https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ilBfyk5AGf0)
PICTURES BY STEVE PORTER