Matthew 26 v 6 – 13; 2 Kings 9 v 1 – 3
I was saddened by the news of the recent death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. I had never actually met him but liked him, more admired him rather than liked him. I always felt that he married Queen Elizabeth for the right reasons and not for the glory that accompanies being part of the monarchy. When that time actually came, it was necessary for him to give up his own career and his naval ambitions to become an escort to the Queen of England, a role that did not even have a job description at the time, but he carried out his duties for almost seventy years.
Obviously, as part of the television tributes to his life, there were many references to the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, and the accounts of that occasion brought back many memories for me and my sisters. I was only five years old at the time but strangely I have some recollections of the event and my sisters filled in some of the gaps.
We were living in our mid-terrace house in Lidget Green, a suburb of Bradford, and I can recall my mum talking, over the garden wall, to the next door neighbour about the death of the King and the excitement of the imminent coronation of the new queen. The celebrations were very much a communal event but I seem to remember that my dad along with our neighbours were heavily involved with the organisation of the street or even the neighbourhood, party and entertainment.
Before any celebrations could commence we watched the coronation pageant on the wonder of television. We didn’t have a television set until much later, but a neighbour further down the street had one so we all piled into their house to watch history being made. It was a very small black and white television set in a wooden cabinet with sliding doors that could be pulled across when not in use. The picture quality was not brilliant and the sound was at best scratchy, but we thought it was magical.
As great as the television experience was, for us as young children, the main event was the neighbourhood party in the Methodist Chapel Hall in the centre of the village, (next door to the Second West pub).
The hall had been decked out with flags and bunting, and trestle tables had been set up around the room, laden with food, sandwiches, cakes and jelly etc. Bench seats had been provided to accommodate more people, or perhaps we didn’t have any chairs, it didn’t seem to matter. At one end of the hall there was a stage and much of the entertainment came from there. Communal singing was in abundance. My dad always fancied himself as a singer and never missed an opportunity, much to the embarrassment of the rest of the family. I vividly recall dad picking me up and standing me on the stage to sing a popular song of the day. It may come as surprise to learn that not a word passed my lips as I defiantly stood there in silence, much to the annoyance of my dad, until someone else’s son or daughter came to my rescue and sang the song.
I can remember that we all had special red, white and blue paper hats with The Queens picture emblazoned on them and of course we all had union jack flags to wave. We also received a cup with the Queens picture on the side, and some people received a propelling pencil with red, white and blue stripes and a crown on the top.
In the Old Testament the sign that a king had been chosen by God was when a Priest or a Prophet anointed the king with oil. This ritual was the pouring of holy oil over the head of the chosen person and as the oil flowed from the head down onto the rest of the body, so the Holy Spirit flowed also. Initially the anointing was restricted to any object or person who worked in the Temple such as cups, vessels and Priests but when the Hebrew people decided on the need for a king, the anointing was extended to include the holiness of the God’s chosen person.
Jesus is a King, not only a King but a King sent by God. He was already Holy because he was God’s own son, but the woman, (thought possibly to be Mary Magdalen) , in Matthew’s Gospel wanted to recognise Jesus as a King by anointing him with the expensive perfumed oil. This oil was usually reserved for preparing a body for burial, but the woman was anxious to use it symbolically while Jesus was still with them. She wished to show that, to her, Jesus was her King, Lord and Master. This act of love took place shortly before Jesus was arrested and led to death on the cross. The anointing was brightness against a dark and threatening backdrop.
I am almost sure I have, in the loft, a Coronation Cup with a picture of the Queen on the side. I’m not sure if it is actually mine or someone else’s that I picked up on the day, – after all I was only five years old, one cup looks very much like any other when you are five years old.