Mark was brought up in a family with a strong royalist tradition. In his childhood pictures of the Queen and other members of the Royal Family adorned the walls of their small house. The occasion of a royal marriage or the birth of a new child in the royal line was a cause for much celebration in their family home. When, as a teenager, Mark announced to his mother that it was his ambition to study Royal Heritage at Queens University she was overjoyed.
The day of his graduation was another cause for great celebration and when he was invited to lecture on Royal Heritage at a prestigious university his families pride knew no bounds.
There was nothing in the public domain regarding the Royal Family that Professor Mark Langford did not know. Moreover he could speak about the family lines of many members of the Royal Family going back for generations. It was not uncommon for him to be interviewed on TV and Radio regarding royal matters.
Over time his knowledge and expertise also came to the attention of the Royal Household. No less than the Queen herself, through her press officer, requested a meeting with Professor Mark Langford. However on consulting his diary he discovered that he was due to lecture at a very well known university in the USA on the day in question – so he politely declined.
Throughout the intervening years the Queen issued no less that 5 invitations to Mark Langford – even offering him a prolonged private interview and access to her private diaries and records. But each time Mark had some other engagement he considered of greater importance.
Professor Mark Langford died last weekend aged 69. He is being mourned by many and his death and obituary made national headlines. One close colleague said – “His knowledge of the Queen and her household was unsurpassed – his knowledge and insight will be sorely missed – no one knew as much about HRH Queen Elizabeth than Mark ”.
Of course the story above is a parable – but it illustrates the biggest mistake I ever made in the spiritual life – to equate knowledge with intimacy. He who has ears …