Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away peacefully at Balmoral on Thursday 8th September 2022. The branch chairman who was visiting the Normandy beaches at the time commented:

“I am in Normandy paying homage to the men and women of the United Kingdom and it's Empire who made the ultimate sacrifice to rid the world of tyranny. They never experienced the glorious and inspirational reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She is their Queen now.“

We had a longstanding agreement with the Town Council to provide a Guard of Honour at the Book of Condolences in the Town Hall and this along with lowering the Union Flag was swiftly put in place by Branch Committee members, with the Mayor, Sandra Coleman being the first to sign.

 

The chairman re-joined the branch on Sunday and we posed for a picture for the Chippy News in the morning, apart for Maz who had gone for a cofeee and thus avoided being fined a bottle of port!

 On Sunday 11th we attended the Proclamation Ceremony of the new King, read by the Mayor on the steps of the Town Hall at 1400. We were supported at short notice by buglers Kim Prentice and Emma Harper from the Shires Youth Band, a huge thank you to them. The ceremony was very moving and well attended and we were delighted to have been a part of it.


After the ceremony we crossed to the Town flagpole for the lowering of the Union flag.

After this we returned to the Town Hall to toast our new King with a glass or two of port.  We manned the Town Hall for the rest of the week, closing on Saturday afternoon. It was a great experience, we collected over 600 signatures and met some lovely people. It was good to be able to do something positive, however small, to honour our Queen and Patron.

 We had one last ceremonial duty, the National Moment of Reflection on Sunday 18th November at 2000 at the Town Flagpole. 

The chairman opened proceedings by reading the poem “The Gate of the Year” by Minnie Louise Haskins. In 1939, with the country facing the uncertainty of war, it was  read by King George VI  in his Christmas address to the Nation, having been handed it by his daughter, the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth. It was read at both George VI’s funeral and also at the Queen Mother’s and is inscribed on the entrance to the George VI chapel at Windsor, where the Queen now lies. It was said to be one of her favourite poems:

 

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown".
And he replied:
"Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way".
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

 

After this a minute’s silence were held, followed by the laying of wreaths by the Mayor,  the Royal British Legion and Chipping Norton Fire Station. The Rev. James Kennedy closed the service with a blessing, it had been a very moving ceremony in the gathering twilight. For us that was duty over, well not quite all of us as our most excellent Standard Bearer Tjark Andrews, had been one of 72  chosen to be at the cenotaph during the Queen’s Funeral procession. 

Tjark had disappeared to London at the beginning of the week for practice and rehearsals, postponing his holiday to do so. This was a great honour for him and also for the Chipping Norton Royal British Legion. He has borne our Standard at three Festivals of Remembrance as well as at the 90th Anniversary of the Great Pilgrimage in Ypres. Tjark was awarded a very rare certificate of Appreciation for exemplary service from the president of the Royal British Legion.