The Prince of Wales has spoken of his shock and heartbreak at the devastation wreaked by Covid-19.
In a video message released today for the Remember Me virtual book of remembrance, launched today by St Paul's London, Prince Charles speaks of those who “have experienced, personally, and in our community life, the shock of sudden change in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
For too many among us, he says, this has brought tragedy and heartbreak.
St Paul's choristers have recorded a special anthem for the online memorial to victims of Covid-19
Prince Charles, who has himself had the virus, says: “For some, relatives have not been able to be present at the time of their loved one’s passing. For many, the loss of their loved ones has been made all the more agonisingly painful by the necessary restrictions on funerals, travel and gatherings. For all of us, there has been anxiety in the present as we have wondered what the future will be.
“People of every faith, and of none, believe that each human being is unique and precious. We also believe it is essential that we remember: we recall how our lives, individually and together, are shaped by the joys and sorrows of the past, so that we may look forward with hope for the future.”
The virtual book of remembrance is here to help us remember; not just to recall our loss and sorrow, but also to be thankful for everything good that those we have loved brought into our lives, and all that they have given to others, he continues.
“We give thanks for how our lives have been woven together with theirs and, through this book, you are invited to share their lives with others – so that we and those who follow us can all remember what has been, and build together a better and more hopeful future.”
Remember Me is an online memorial for those in the UK – of all faiths, beliefs or none – who have died as a result of Covid-19. In addition to the online memorial, a physical memorial is to be created at St Paul’s Cathedral and plans have already been approved for a new inner porch in the North transept.
The project is being backed by the Dorfman Foundation, with the Jewish businessman and philanthropist Sir Lloyd Dorfman providing leadership and guidance.
From today, family, friends and carers of those who have died can submit, free of charge, the name, photograph and a short message in honour of a deceased person via the Remember Me website. The deceased person must have been living in the UK. Remember Me will be open for entries for as long as needed.
The Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Rev David Ison, said: “For centuries, St Paul's Cathedral has been a place to remember the personal and national impact of great tragedies, from the losses of war to the devastation of the Grenfell Tower fire. We have heard so many sad stories of those affected by the pandemic, and all our thoughts and prayers are with them. Every person is valued and worthy of remembrance.
“We are all experiencing the devastating impacts of Covid-19 across the country and beyond. Remember Me is an opportunity to mourn every person we have lost to the effects of this terrible disease, an encouragement to offer compassion and support to those left behind, and an ongoing recognition of the impact of the pandemic on the UK.”
The Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols said: “Lord, we commend to your love and mercy those who have died. Their names have been placed, lovingly, in this Book of Remembrance, that they may never be forgotten but held always in our prayers.”
The Bishop of London, the Right Rev Sarah Mullaly, said: “In my work as a priest and formerly as a nurse, I have been privileged to spend time with the dying and those who grieve. The loss and devastation we face at this time, as a nation and as a world community, cannot be measured. People of all faiths, beliefs and philosophies stand united in grief. This memorial book will be a place where individual losses are named and grief can be held in the solidarity of shared heartbreak. May those who have died be embraced into new life by the God who is no stranger to suffering. May we too find healing and strength in that Love.”
Harun Rashid Khan, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “From God we come and to Him we return. This is a profound statement in the Quran that Muslims are asked to recite upon hearing news of a death. It is a testament that has been made far too many times in recent weeks. The coronavirus has shaken our lives and reminded us of the frailty of life itself. It affirms how we humans must overcome our differences as we rely on each other.”
Umesh Sharma, chair of the Hindu Council UK, said: “Our nation is going through a very uncertain, difficult and painful time. But this pain is at its extreme when families can not say a proper farewell to their loved ones who have died as a result of the pandemic. At this time of national grief, St Paul's has come out with an excellent and thoughtful initiative to set up a virtual book of remembrance for the nation.”
Jasvir Singh, a director of the City Sikhs Network, said: “Many have lost loved ones during the pandemic, and because of lockdown it has been incredibly hard for us to mourn as we normally would. The virtual book of remembrance is an important initiative as it allows us to remember those we have lost and to grieve collectively. We remain united and connected as a nation in these challenging times, and the virtual book is a timely reminder that physical distancing is not a barrier when it comes to supporting one another following a bereavement.”