King Richard III grew up at Middleham and a banner with his emblem of the white boar hangs in the church. White butterflies flit about the sunlit castle ruins and horses from the nearest racing stables trot by.
In his first address to the nation, King Charles III concludes with Horatio’s words on the death of Hamlet
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest
For us, and for the nation, this is a week to reflect on kingship. all that it has meant through the ages and all that it comprehends in a fast-changing world. Shakespeare explores this theme through his history plays written during the reigns of Elizabeth I. and James I and VI who united the crowns of England and Scotland. The death of Elizabeth I in 1603 saw King James I ruling Scotland from London. The United Kingdom was formally recognised in 1707.
With Her Majesty’s death at Balmoral, beloved of the Royal Family, might the affection in which they are held influence the future of the United Kingdom? It’s been a time to reflect on the soft-power of the monarchy and the years of service given not only by Her Majesty but by King Charles and William Prince of Wales. They and the Duke of Edinburgh are visionaries with regard to conservation and Climate Change.
Another bright and beautiful morning, fresh and invigorating. The sun is up and the moon lingers in a sky of wondrous blues. We make a flask of coffee and head for The Gallops. As we venture onto Low Moor the horses are hidden behind a slope, only the ghostly sounds of hooves and creatures snorting, as if Richard III were here for an early morning ride. Then the race horses appear above the low ridge and gain speed as they gallop toward the trig point where skylark show colourful in sunlit bursts of flight. As the horses approach in full gallop we sense their power and high-spirits. Trotting through the village, they take priority over traffic but they seem different creatures. Each racing stable is identified by its own livery and throughout the morning small groups of horses are out on The Gallops. A land rover shadows the horses, their trainer observing form, we reckon. The Gallops are not turf but soft, sandy soil which is harrowed by heavy machines to keep the surface perfect for the horses. From the trig point we look down to sunlit Bolton Castle where Mary Queen of Scots was a prisoner of the English, of her cousin Elizabeth i. For a while, she enjoyed the freedom of riding out in the Wensleydale countryside.
With Her Majesty’s death at her beloved Balmoral. Scotland was the focus during those early days of mourning- a time to consider how the United Kingdom came into being and all that it means in the 21st century. When not out exploring we follow BBC coverage and discuss unfolding events, preparations for the greatest State Funeral for sixty years and reflections on the new regime which is taking shape. We marvel at the courage and dignity of King Charles III and the Princess Royal especially, at their energy at a time when to lose a mother leaves anyone prostrate and numb with grief and they must mourn her loss under the relentless gaze of the media whilst travelling across the kingdom, the Princess following behind the late Queen's hearse, King Charles being proclaimed in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Her late Majesty has prepared all well and the transition is dignified and smooth. There is change but there is continuity, and readiness. To mount such a funeral is impressive and we are proud of our Royal Family.