The Queen’s English

When Queen Elizabeth spoke, her words were not erudite (scholarly) or recondite (difficult to understand). She never used words like that, at least not in her public discourses. She did not have a university education; it has been the conviction of the British Royal Family that they do not want to learn a language that is above the understanding of the common people.

In Old Testament history, when Rehoboam became king, the counsellors of Solomon, his father, advised him: “If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever” (1 Kings 12:7). That describes the life of Queen Elizabeth, she saw herself as a servant of the people, even during her teenage years as Princess Elizabeth.

Her speeches were not written by a professional speech writer, she wrote them herself. Sometimes she asked her husband, or her secretary, for suggestions of how to say what she wanted to say. She kept herself informed of events in her realm and around the world. She completely avoided political topics, but spoke of things that affected the day to day life of ordinary people.

She spoke clearly, in complete, grammatically correct sentences, without any elaborate flourishes. She spoke with a definite British accent, clearly enunciated and understandable even to those for whom English was a second language.

She spoke good words, often testifying of the faith in God that was the foundation of her life. She spoke from the heart and her words touched the hearts of those who heard her. If there is any value in the monarchy in our era, it would lie in their ability to provide a sense of continuity in turbulent political times and to be a kind of moral compass in a world that seems to be adrift.

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