Bishop Christopher pays tribute to the Queen



The Bishop of Coventry has paid tribute to HM The Queen in the House of Lords on behalf of the people of Coventry and Warwickshire.

On Saturday 10 September, The Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth addressed the House of Lords.

"My Lords, it’s a great honour if I may to follow Lord Triesman and offer some words of tribute [to our late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth] on behalf of the people of Coventry and Warwickshire, to express especially our great thanks for the Queen’s part in the renewal of Coventry after its wartime destruction and its discovery of a new identity aspiring to be a city of peace and reconciliation.

A few days after the worst of the bombing of Coventry, the Queen’s father stood in the ruins of the Cathedral and wept. In 1956 the young Queen laid the foundation stone of the new cathedral: a new Cathedral for a new Queen in an ancient city being rebuilt for the modern age, in a nation finding its place on the international stage in a new Europe and a new world.

In 1962 – 60 years ago this year – the Queen, herself a consecrated Monarch, returned to Coventry for the consecration of the new Cathedral. There was hope in the air: and Coventry became a national symbol of the traumas of war, with all their sufferings still evident in the ruins, and the possibilities of peace built on reconciliation, rising from the ashes of the past into the simple grandeur of the new Cathedral.

What better person than Queen Elizabeth to lay the foundation stone of a new future and to see a building, a people, a nation consecrated to the ways of peace?

Serving the cause of reconciliation for which Coventry Cathedral and its city have become known, was remarkably demonstrated through the Queen’s service to the nation and to the world – as we’ve heard in many ways.

The Queen helped the nation to celebrate its past, to carry forward its great traditions and noblest values while at the same time reaching out to the future, accepting its challenges and welcoming its opportunities, easing its coming. Whether steering the nation from Imperial power to shaper and sharer in a commonwealth of nations, or whether facing head on the harm that peoples have inflicted upon themselves in families, in communities, between nations, and showing how we may live better together, the Queen well used the strength of her character and the powers of her office to create new conditions for cooperation.

Among the many examples on the world stage, I like to pay particular tribute to the Queen’s part in Coventry’s and the country’s reconciliation with Dresden: that symbol of the brutality of war and its challenge to face our own past. Her visit in 1992 with one of my predecessors was a brave act and not without cost to her: it exposed emotions that were still raw in that city. But I know from my own many visits and close relationships that it was deeply healing, transformative even, in the road to reconciliation. 

And as we’ve heard powerfully from Baroness Coussins and noble Lord Alderdice, the Queen’s words and gestures, the way she used the combination of status and the credibility of character to serve the good of the future, were breath-taking in their effect during her State Visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2011 – and then Belfast in 2012. Again, we saw something of the risk and cost that walking the road of reconciliation involves.

And there are many other examples in her long years of service, as there are in the untiring, unstinting work of her son, our King, in his now former life.

As has been acknowledged, the Queen's own foundation, the rock on which she built her life, is well known.  And the cause for which she was consecrated – the cause of God’s kingdom and peace, justice and mercy – they served her well.  And we know that they will also serve our King well.

They make me wonder about all of our foundations, and all of the causes to which we give ourselves – whether they will be as secure and enduring as hers."

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"My Lords, the Archbishop of York referred to his granddaughter crying when she heard the news.  My mother, who is 93 and frail, wept for the Queen and said, "She was always there", and we all feel that.  But she also said, "The Queen had such a beautiful face, it was her smile."  And that's been referred to already as well.  I was blessed by that smile myself in the encounters I had with Her Majesty, our late Queen.

Genuine life-giving smiles can restore relationships that once looked irreparably damaged.  Our world is a better place because of the smile of that gracious lady."

First published on: 10th September 2022
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