Angela Knight Jackson MBE, Deputy Director of Nursing Professional Development, NHS England, invited to attend HM Queen Elizabeth II's State Funeral.
The State Funeral had two thousand people in attendance which included around two hundred people who were recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours and Jubilee celebrations in June 2022 who received an invitation to the State Funeral service at Westminster Abbey, on Monday, 19 September 2022. Charity founders, volunteers who are supporting communities and public sector workers from across UK; along with Presidents, Princes, Princesses, Heads of State and Royal families from across the globe were together as one body to attend Queen Elizabeth II's funeral service. Amongst the invitees was Angela Knight Jackson MBE, wife of Pastor Richard Jackson, former President of the North England Conference and current church pastor of the Derby Bethel, Derby Chester Green and Burton district of churches.
Cathy Boldeau asked Angela about her reflections on this momentous occasion and being a part of this historic occasion:
How did you know about the invitation?
I received a surprise call on Sunday 11 September from the Cabinet Office to invite me to the State Funeral. I was completely taken aback but graciously accepted knowing I was going to be a part of history in the making. As with all Government protocols of this nature my attendance was to be in the strictest confidence.
You received an MBE early on in the year, what was this for?
Yes, I received from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II the honour Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). The recommendation was made by the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the advice from the independent Main Honours Committee. As Deputy Director, Nursing Professional Development NHS England the award was for services to the NHS, specifically to the nursing and midwifery workforce. It is hard to believe that within three months of receiving the award the Queen passed away. I will be amongst the few awardees where the honour was made by the Queen while alive and the medal received by the new monarch King Charles III.
What was the atmosphere like at the funeral and what were your reflections of the day?
What I would say is that from the time of the phone call this was a journey which culminated on the day of the funeral. During the journey I had to consider logistics such as travel and accommodation; from the date of when the funeral was announced, prices became extortionate and rail bookings were high. There was also the media hype containing step-by-step blow-by-blow accounts of the funeral, world leaders' comments, what the Royal family was doing, numbers and attendance at the 'lying in state'. I even had to consider what to wear, as I had a very specific dress code to follow. My main anxiety, however, was would I be going. My official invite did not come until Saturday morning so all preparations throughout the week was done in faith.
I have attended services at Westminster Abbey before as part of the Florence Nightingale Foundation Commemoration service, and I have always found them to be spiritually uplifting. As an invitee, arrival was early, almost two and half hours before the service began. If there is a disadvantage for arriving early on this occasion is that I was not able to see the pomp and ceremony that was happening outside. But what was wonderful inside was as I waited, I was with the general public, people like myself who had been honoured by Queen Elizabeth II or who she had been the patron for their charity. There was a real sense of comradery, and this was a historic event. The grandeur of the Abbey added to the atmosphere of being regal and being a part of the chosen few.
I watched as world leaders, heads of states, past and present Government officials and Royalty were escorted right past me to take their place and then… Queen Elizabeth II's coffin, draped with the Royal Standard of the regiment and the orb, crown and sceptre, symbols of authority and sovereignty on top.
Then the service began, sixty minutes of praise and thanksgiving to God, every song, every hymn, every reading where God was glorified. My soul cried out hallelujah, thank you for saving me and I prayed others would be comforted and that they may know HIM. There was only on spot in the service that I was emotional – this took me by surprise. It was when we stood to sing God Save Our Gracious King. From my earliest memories I have always sung God Save Our Gracious Queen, and this was my realisation she was no more.
Tell the BUC News about the spiritual lessons that you learned.
There were so many spiritual lessons that came to me during and after the service, here are a few:
Queen Elizabeth II received many accolades for her service to humanity from across the world but, as the Bible says, we are all like vapour which vanishes away, for to everything there is a season, a time and purpose under the heavens, a time to be born and a time to die. It was so poignant that at the committal service at Windsor Castle, the crown, orb and sceptre were removed, marking the end of her reign.
The late Queen was also the defender of the faith. May we also defend our faith and be prepared "to give an answer to every man that ask-eth you a reason of the hope that is in you." Even while in the service I was able to witness to those who I spoke with about my values, the foundation of which was my faith.
The grandeur of the occasion and knowing I was part of a chosen few attending the State Funeral helped me to put into perspective that we, as God's children, are "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood…called out of darkness into his marvellous light."
And as I sat in the Abbey looking at the magnificent architecture and animated stained glass windows changing in the light, there was an artist's impression of Jesus with His arms stretched forward. This reminded me of the biblical verse "come unto me all ye who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." I prayed for those in attendance that they too may find rest in Him. I thought of the nations across the world and the people of the UK who were glued to this service which was glorifying Christ and I was reminded, "if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me." Maybe this was the crux, it was a service of comfort for those who were mourning, but because of the State Funeral, maybe seeds have been sown and souls have been born for the kingdom of God.
Finally, I thought, "let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."