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The Funeral of the Queen Mother

To celebrate the life of the Queen Mother and to understand the significance of a funeral rite.

by The Revd Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To celebrate the life of the Queen Mother and to understand the significance of a funeral rite.

Preparation and materials

  • A photograph of the Queen Mother could be placed on a central table beside a lighted candle and some flowers.

Assembly

  1. Refer to the news that the children will have heard concerning the death of the Queen Mother at the age of 101. Remind them that she was born Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in Scotland on 4 August 1900.

    Having lived for over 100 years she experienced many changes to the way we live. Can the children think of any? Examples are: the development of transport, communications, technology. Health care has improved - e.g. the Queen Mother had an operation to repair a damaged hip at the age of 95.

  2. Explain that many people find it helpful to mark special changes in their lives through rituals. For some Christians, the birth of a new baby is marked by a christening. The baby is taken to church to be baptized and the family gathers to say 'welcome'.

    Later in life a couple may choose to be married in church. A wedding is held. The bride and groom promise to love and care for one another. Both families offer their support and celebrate together. The Queen Mother was married in 1923, to the then Duke of York, who later became George VI.

  3. Continue by explaining that when someone dies, a funeral service is held to mark the ending of their life. Reflect that while christenings and weddings are happy times, funerals are sad and solemn occasions, although they can also involve joyful remembrance of the dead person.

    Some of the children will know how upsetting and sad it can be when a member of a family dies, especially if the death is sudden and unexpected. Often those attending a funeral will wear black or dark clothes to express their sorrow.

  4. Recall that the Queen Mother would have experienced deep sorrow when her husband, George VI , died suddenly in 1952. That time marked a great change for her. Elizabeth, her daughter, became Queen and she became the Queen Mother. Although it cannot always have been easy, she has continued to serve her country and has brought happiness and encouragement to millions of people across the world.

    Her funeral will be a sad occasion, especially for the Queen, Prince Charles and other members of the royal family. However, it will also be a time for everybody to show how much they care. A funeral helps us to remember all the good a person has done. Together we can say 'Thank you' for everything that the Queen Mother has done for others.

  5. Invite the children to 'say thank you' by remembering some of the things they have learned about the Queen Mother from recent television programmes, newspapers and the internet. Reference may be made to:

    - the encouragement she gave to people during the war - her enjoyment of life, including horse racing, good food and dancing! - the support she gave to her family - people's excitement and happiness when she visited hospitals, schools and community organizations - her patronage of many charities - her faith in God.

Time for reflection

Lord God,
We thank you for the life of the Queen Mother
and for the way she served and cared for others.
We pray that you will help and comfort the royal family today.
Amen.

Song/music

'Lord of all hopefulness' (Come and Praise, 52)
'The Lord's my shepherd' (Come and Praise, 56)

Publication date: 2002   (Vol.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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