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A life of duty to others
Speech by John Neal for the Royal Accession

Good morning everyone, and let me join Bruce in thanking you for being here today.

Rather than repeating the beautiful words already said, I just wanted to share some personal thoughts on the two occasions we’re recognising today.

Like so many others, I’ve found myself incredibly moved this past week since the news of Her Majesty’s death was announced.

It was only afterwards that I started to think about why that reaction was so strong, and so universal.

The idea that came up time and again – that’s been repeated in news broadcasts and royal speeches – is the sense of duty.

I grew up in a military family where duty was a powerful notion; but it looked and felt very different to the quiet, unassuming devotion we’ve seen from our Queen over the years.

The Cambridge dictionary will give you two very different definitions of duty: the first is the slightly unromantic notion of ‘something you have to do because it is part of your job’.

I’m sure we’ve all felt that at times – and I’m sure there were occasions when, for Her Majesty, shaking hands and making small talk with insurance folk like us was exactly that; a regrettable part of the day job…

The other definition, I suspect, was the more compelling – that of ‘something you feel is the right thing to do’.

Our Queen often spoke about her moral conviction; that a life devoted to public service was both a job, and a joy.

It gave us a regular reminder that there were people out there who dedicated their lives to serving and supporting others.

More recently, I think it’s why the ‘Clap for Carers’ struck such a chord with so many of us; why we support military charities at Lloyd’s and talk about the importance of our ‘purpose’; and ultimately, why the Queen enjoyed higher approval ratings throughout her reign than any celebrity, sportsperson or head of state.

Because being bound to the service of others – working for their betterment through the good times and bad – is not just an enjoyable pastime, it’s a good way to live.

We’ve seen that mantle picked up by His Majesty King Charles III through his tireless work on causes from climate change to community advancement, on initiatives from the Prince’s Trust to the Sustainable Markets Initiative.

His first speech as King confirmed that commitment, promising:

“As The Queen did with such unswerving devotion, I too now solemnly pledge myself, throughout the remaining time God grants me, to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation.”

I, for one, am moved and inspired by that commitment to duty and to serving others.

But more than anything, as I have reflected over the last week, I have felt immense gratitude.

They say you don’t realise what you have until it’s gone; well, gratitude is the practice of recalling those good things every day.

For some of us, that might mean a stable job or a reliable friendship. For others, it will be the ability to pay bills and heat homes through the winter ahead.

Whatever the case, gratitude turns our attention away from what we lack and towards what we have.

I’m determined to keep that idea front and centre as we say goodbye to a cherished leader and prepare to welcome a proven public servant.

So today – I’m grateful for ‘a life well lived’, as His Majesty so eloquently put it. I’m grateful for the family and friends to reflect on that life with. And I’m grateful for the promise of another life bound in duty to serve others, as our incoming King has pledged to all who call the United Kingdom home, or a home away from home.

Long may he reign; and long live the King.

Thank you. We’ll now ring the Lutine Bell to mark the accession of His Majesty, King Charles III, to the throne of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations.

John Neal, CEO, Lloyd's

15 Sep 2022