We could all learn from the Royal Family’s quiet dignity and awareness of others - Sarah Todd

Covid has been a very big nail in the coffin for the Church of England, with Sunday church attendance just 80 per cent of what it was in 2019.

There is a lot the church got wrong and certainly in our rural corner, which had no permanent vicar before the pandemic, it was easy to feel forgotten by the god squad as the younger generation has been known to call the clergy.

When my grandmother died aged 100, thankfully before the horrors of the pandemic, there was no visit from a vicar in return for her lifelong church attendance. She was just another old folks’ home resident and there is no point pretending this did not do away with any high regard held for the institution even before any of us had ever worn a facemask.

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Anyway, our parish’s five churches have a new rector. Well, newish. He arrived last year after a gap of many years. This correspondent will not be turning into her late grandmother and becoming a regular; it’s Easter, Harvest Festival (if a decent service that actually mentions the traditional farming harvest and has ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ on the hymn sheet can be found) and Christmas that sometimes see her nipping in late at the back.

The King said he remains in "closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law". PIC: Chris Jackson/PA WireThe King said he remains in "closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law". PIC: Chris Jackson/PA Wire
The King said he remains in "closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law". PIC: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

The point of this mention is that this new vicar was heard telling youngsters to go about their lives full of joy and what seemed a catchy phrase at the time has, over the last few days, really come home to roost.

While the “Jesus first” of his message was a bit full-on for yours truly, the sentiment of then thinking of “others before yourself” seemed somehow spot on.

Fast-forward to the week that has just unfolded in the news, with our Princess of Wales being hounded into speaking out about her cancer diagnosis, it feels like so many people could start following this simple sentiment of thinking about others before themselves.

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That inbuilt moral compass, of instinctively knowing right from wrong, seems to have become a thing of the past. Thinking aloud, there are other phrases the church has up its cassocked sleeve such as ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ that perfectly shine a light on our national pastime of picking others to pieces from behind computer keyboards.

News has been this reporter’s bread and butter for over 30 years, but the hours spent pouring over the Princess’s statement in the name of ‘analysis’ has made this journalist ashamed.

Mind you, these days anybody with an internet connection seems to be able to set themselves up as a commentator, with no regard for the years of training those of us of an older generation had to put in on subjects such as ethics and respecting people’s right to privacy.

Her Royal Highness’s brave statement was listened to on the news, but the remote control was pressed within a matter of minutes afterwards. Of course, even the BBC started speculating and dissecting her heartbreaking announcement. Bringing on medical experts and the like, to surmise and second-guess. Shame on them.

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They all need a dressing-down by the late Duke of Edinburgh and then sending to the Tower of London to reflect on their behaviour. No, that is too tame for some of them.

Celebrity culture, where wannabes flaunt every moment of their vacuous lives, isn’t real life. Real life is a young mother telling her three children she has cancer. The lines between the two - real life and self-promotion - have become blurred.

To be fair, it is not just celebrities who are living in this world where comments about lifestyle and looks seem to mean more than being valued as a decent human being.

We are living in a world where far too many people worry more about their social media profiles than the lives they are actually living right here, right now.

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In the blink of the kind of false eyelash a Porn star would be proud of, many of today’s young girls will be old and wondering what life was really all about.

This Easter, as our nation gets ever-fatter scoffing on chocolate eggs at the altar of conspicuous consumption, the Royal family will quietly do what they have always done and attend a church service.

Whether we follow any faith or none, there is something about this family’s quiet dignity and awareness of others - both King Charles and his “beloved daughter-in-law” have thought to mention that they are thinking of others battling ill health - that we would all do well to reflect on.

Granted, the best most of us can probably manage these days is more ‘oy than joy, but what is the alternative?

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