Caring for the Queen

Simon Smart recounts his conversation with the late Queen Elizabeth II's Chaplain in Scotland, John Swinton.

Last Friday theologian John Swinton was due to come in to the CPX studio for an interview. This would have been interesting enough but given his role as Chaplain to the Queen in Scotland, and that the Queen died that very morning, I threw out most of my questions and we ended up chatting about this monumental occasion.

John had been woken with the news at 4am and would return to the UK the next day, heading to Edinburgh for a vigil beside the Queen’s coffin and then on to London for the funeral.

For John Swinton, as for so many others, it was a sad day, representing an end of an era—the Queen having been such a constant in everyone’s life.

Her steadfastness, despite the bewildering changes she experienced in her lifetime, impressed Swinton. “The way you learn how to be a decent person is by looking at decent people. And she always struck me as a decent person that I’ve learned a lot from, even though, from a distance until relatively recently,” he said.

That she was a person of faith has been mentioned many times and Swinton saw this up close. “It’s pretty clear that was central to who she was, how she saw the world and definitely how she saw her royal duties,” he said.

Her Christmas address of 2002 reminds us how that faith sustained her through her share of heartache:

“I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad … I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that each day brings, and to put my trust in God.”

Image credit Public Domain.