“EVERY MARRIAGE is a public event, but some couples have to live more than others in the full light of publicity,” the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Monday, at the special service to mark the diamond wedding anniversary of the Queen and Prince Philip.
Preaching at Westminster Abbey, Dr Williams said: “We are probably more aware than ever these days of the pressures this brings. But it also means that we can give special thanks for the very public character of the witness and the sign offered to us by this marriage, and what it has meant to nation and Commonwealth over the decades.”
He said that the royal diamond-wedding celebration was not only about marriage, but about the relationship between monarch and people, “of which also that marriage is a symbol”.
Dr Williams also commented on the current state of marriage. He said that even the secular ceremony recognised the seriousness of a lifetime’s commitment. “Even in the full and painful knowledge that, for all sorts of reasons, our commitments to lifelong fidelity may be undermined or shattered, we still believe that is the mark we have to set ourselves.”
He said that Christian marriage was a living sign of God’s relation to the world. “It is a sign telling us that God is to be trusted to be faithful — and that God trusts us to echo that faithfulness.”
Dame Judi Dench read a specially commissioned poem written by the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, and Prince William read the lesson from 1 John 4.7-16.
On Sunday, 500 people from Sussex who were also married in 1947 attended a special service of thanksgiving at Chichester Cathedral.
Southwell Minster also hosted a special service for couples who are celebrating their diamond wedding this year. At least 24 people marked the event along with friends and family.
On Thursday, the Queen opened a new ward named in her honour at the AIDS clinic and hospital in the Ugandan capital Kampala, run by the UK Christian charity Mildmay (see Interview). The Queen is making a state visit to Uganda, where she will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.