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Welcome and Greetings to Many

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend runs from 2 to 5 June 2022

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider what we can learn from the Queen’s example of welcome, service and dedication.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available the YouTube video ‘Teacher has incredible handshakes with each student’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 1.02 minutes long and is available at:


  1. Say, ‘Good morning,’ as you wave at the students.

    Point out that there are many ways of greeting one another. To say hello at the start of this assembly, you said a greeting and waved. However, around the world there are many other ways to greet one another.

    In Tibet, for example, sticking out your tongue is a way of saying hello!

    If we were in Qatar, it would be customary for us to bump noses with each other.

    If we were in France, we might greet each other by touching our cheek to the other person’s for one or two air kisses.

    In New Zealand, there is a traditional Maori greeting called the hongi. People press their noses together, and sometimes join their foreheads too, in a custom known as the sharing of breath.

    In the UK, a handshake is a customary way to greet someone.

  2. A handshake might seem like a boring kind of greeting. However, this video shows how a teacher in the USA has turned a standard handshake into something much more fun.

    Show the YouTube video ‘Teacher has incredible handshakes with each student’ (1.02 minutes long).

    This teacher certainly seems committed to greeting each student in a unique way, making each one feel welcomed into the lesson.

  3. Someone else who greets a lot of people is the Queen, although unlike the US teacher, Her Majesty prefers a more traditional handshake, sometimes with a gloved hand.

    In September 2015, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest serving monarch in British history. She became queen at the age of 25, when her father, King George VI, died suddenly. 

    This month, we celebrate her Platinum Jubilee, marking her 70 years of service as Queen Elizabeth II. A four-day bank holiday weekend to celebrate the jubilee begins on Thursday 2 June.

  4. The Queen is a much loved and respected figure around the world. Her extraordinary reign has seen her travel more widely than any other monarch, undertaking many historic overseas visits. Known for her sense of duty and her devotion to a life of service, the Queen has been an important figurehead for the UK and the Commonwealth during times of enormous social change.

  5. The Queen sees public and voluntary service as one of the most important elements of her work. She is the royal patron of hundreds of organizations, including charities, military associations, professional bodies and public service organizations.

  6. Throughout her reign, the Queen has met and offered a handshake to millions of people around the world. She’s shaken hands with Lady Gaga, Charlie Chaplin, Nelson Mandela, five Popes, the 14 UK prime ministers who have served during her reign and 13 of the 14 US presidents who have served while she has been on the throne.

    During her reign, the Queen has invited more than a million people to garden parties that she hosts at Buckingham Palace every summer. Guests are selected based on their service to their local community. At these events, the Queen and other members of the Royal Family speak to people and find out more about how they use their gifts to build a welcoming and caring community in their local area.

  7. No one knows for sure how many people the Queen has shaken hands with during her 70-year reign, but some estimates have arrived at a figure of more than three million, with many millions more meeting or seeing her in person. A YouGov poll conducted in 2018 found that nearly one-third of British people have either seen or met the Queen in real life.

  8. Before meeting Her Majesty, many people ask how they should behave to show courtesy and respect. If we ever meet the Queen, we shouldn’t offer our hand to shake first. Instead, we should wait for the Queen to offer her hand to us! And if we ever speak to the Queen, we should call her ‘Your Majesty’ to start with, and then ‘Ma’am’ (pronounced ‘mam’).

Time for reflection

Let’s take a moment to consider the life of service that the Queen has led and the example that she sets to us. She started undertaking public duties in 1943, when she was still Princess Elizabeth, and has undertaken public duties as Queen since 1952. Most teachers don’t last that long in the classroom, and most would certainly hope to retire before then!

When the Queen meets someone and shakes their hand, she often takes a moment to speak with them and give them her attention. She shows them respect and makes them feel that they are worthy of her time.

There has never been a time when the Queen has grumbled publicly about her duties and public engagements. She serves her country and her people with dignity. The Queen is also Supreme Governor of the Church of England, which means that she serves Jesus and the Church in her role as queen.

In her Christmas message of 2004, the Queen reminded us that the Bible calls us to treat everyone as worthy of our respect and care. She used the example of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan to make it clear that welcoming others, including people who may differ from ourselves, matters.

In her speech, the Queen said, 
‘For me as a Christian, one of the most important . . . teachings is contained in the parable of the Good Samaritan, when Jesus answers the question, “Who is my neighbour?” . . . Everyone is our neighbour, no matter what race, creed or colour. The need to look after a fellow human being is far more important than any cultural or religious differences.’

The way in which the Queen greets and shakes hands with people around the world gives us an example of how to be welcoming to others and treat everyone with respect and dignity.

Let’s consider a few questions as we think about the actions of the Queen.

- To what extent do we welcome other people?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- How can we serve others?
- What gifts and skills do we have that we can use to help others?
- How can we serve without moaning or grumbling?

Pause to allow time for thought.

- What can we learn from the Queen’s example of serving her country and her Church for more than 70 years?
- What helps us to be resilient and to persevere?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Let us bring our own reflections in prayer, as we also pray for the Queen.

Dear God,
You call us to be welcoming to others, and to treat people with dignity and respect.
Our Queen has given us a wonderful example of what that can look like in practice.
During her long reign, she has greeted people from around the world, serving her country and the Church.
We thank you for our Queen and her example of service and dedication.
God bless our Queen.
We pray, too, for the strength and grace to be welcoming to others.
Help us to use our gifts and talents to serve you and to build a society where all people are respected.
Inspire us to be resilient and determined.
May our celebrations of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this June inspire us towards the same level of resilience, determination and service that we see in the life of our Queen.


The UK national anthem, available at: (2.04 minutes long)

‘Rise up and serve’, commissioned by HOPE Together and partners, available at: (4.08 minutes long)

Publication date: June 2022   (Vol.24 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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