May “Flights of Angels Sing Thee to Thy Rest” My Reflections on the Speech of King Charles III

Queen Elizabeth II was the longest reigning monarch in British history. After serving her people well for 70 years, on Thursday, Sept. 8th, 2022, at the ripe age of 96, Queen Elisabeth II passed away at her summer home, Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Immediately after her passing, her heir, Charles, the Prince of Wales, ascended to the throne, becoming King Charles III. In this momentous historical context, fraught with sorrow over the queen’s passing and laden with questions about the future of the British monarchy, one of the new king’s first responsibilities was to deliver a speech. It would be a speech that could make, break, or damage his reign and the future of monarchy. The delivery of the new king’s speech was no light matter. The long historical arc of communication has taught us
that some speeches outlive their delivery, impacting people for good for years and for generations to come; the Gettysburg Address, delivered by Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States in 1863, and the I Have a Dream speech, delivered by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist Minister, 100 years later in 1963, serve as classic examples.
With so much at stake in this moment, what would the new king say? What would be the content of the speech? Would he use vivid verbs and robust nouns? What imagery would he employ to make clear his ideas and thoughts? Will he speak in such a way that the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and the world will listen? I watched the video of King Charles III speech several times. In my professional judgement, the speech was wonderful, powerful—well delivered. As I watched and listened, I concluded before God that biblical preachers and communicators could learn a number of important lessons from the new King’s speech. In the remainder of this editorial, I will
focus on two lessons.