Late night arrests at the weekend foiled a terror plot in London, England. Speculation was rife that the plot involved an attack on the Queen and other members of the Royal Family at the Cenotaph on Sunday morning. This did not deter the Queen from carrying out an annual duty, which she has never missed.
This was the occasion of the annual commemoration of Armistice Day, the day that ended World War I. “At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” was exactly when the war ended, having claimed almost a million British lives. Observance is held on the Sunday closest to the actual day.
The Queen not only leads the nation at this ceremony. She is also leading the Commonwealth, that quarter of mankind that comprised the British Empire and Commonwealth during both wars. Without their contribution, the allies might never have won. Together with Britain, they were the only allied nations that were in both wars from beginning to end.
It’s hard to imagine now but a century ago when the Great War (World War One) began, hundreds of thousands of people around the world volunteered to fight. Many faked their age to qualify.
I read recently that many were motivated by deep religious convictions. According to this website, a significant number of men in the trenches believed in British Israelism, that the British Empire and the United States were the fulfillment of the promises made to Joseph in Genesis chapter 48:
“15 And he blessed Joseph, and said: “God, before whom my fathers Abra
ham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,
16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,
And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.
18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”
20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.”
The United States is big at 3.9 million square miles but the British Empire was vast at 13.9 million square miles. Many believed it was the prophesied “multitude of nations.” Its formal name was the British Empire and Commonwealth, the latter being the independent countries of the Empire that remained loyal to the Crown. These nations, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, together with the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia, all sent troops to help “mother England” when the country was threatened by the Axis powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. As Germany had colonies close to South Africa and Australia, these nations also brought about German defeats on a regional level.
The independent nations that formed the Commonwealth were known as Dominions. Canada was the first country to become a dominion in 1867, independent but loyal to the Crown. The word “dominion” was taken directly from Psalm 72:8: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea.” The fact that the term dominion was inspired by scripture shows the founders of Canada were far more biblically aware that most recent leaders, the current prime minister being an exception.
It wasn’t just the dominions that sacrificed for Britain. In World War II, two million Indians volunteered to fight for Britain, the biggest volunteer army in history.
Even India’s sacrifice was not as great as that of Southern Rhodesia, proportionate to population. Sir Winston Churchill lauded the central African nation’s loyalty by describing it as “the most loyal colony.” Sadly, twenty years later, one of his successors was to betray the country, which now no longer exists.
Other colonies also contributed. The Gold Coast, now Ghana, raised up the Royal West African Frontier Force, which saw action in Burma and Ethiopia. Nigeria also sent troops to Burma. It was felt that Africans could handle the heat a lot better than the British in the steaming hot jungles of Burma and Malaya. Indian troops comprised the majority of soldiers fighting against the Japanese in this particular theater of war. Many sacrificed their lives for King and Country.
The Queen appreciates the sacrifice of all these nations more than most, as she lived through World War II and knows how easily Britain could have been defeated. Memories of the bombing of Buckingham Palace will still be with her. She will also remember that the wartime leader, Winston Churchill, had lunch with her father, King George VI, every week, keeping the king abreast of all developments in the war. It is said that Churchill would give the young Princess and future Queen informal history lessons. Churchill was later to write his monumental “History of the English speaking peoples,” a book that thankfully was written before political correctness and revisionist history.
At the Cenotaph, the war memorial in the center of London, the Queen remembers, at 88, far better than most of her subjects, the sacrifices made and the struggles that still continue. Her grandson, Prince Harry, missed the service in London, choosing instead to commemorate the day with British troops in Afghanistan, where he served three years ago.
The Commonwealth will likely survive the Queen’s passing. Prince Charles, who will take over as king upon the death of his mother, is getting more involved with the organization while his son, Prince William, together with his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, are immensely popular, especially in the Commonwealth Realms, those member countries that retain the Queen as Head of State.
The organization may survive but it will never again be in unison in fighting a global conflict. It is no longer a military force and its members now have conflicting loyalties that preclude action on a universal scale. And, with the Queen’s passing, remembrance of two world wars will further diminish.