(RNS) — Elizabeth II of England, Britain’s longest-serving monarch and official head of the Church of England, died Thursday at Balmoral Fortress in Scotland at age 96. She got here to the throne in 1952 however had devoted her life to service of her nation six years earlier, as a 21-year-old princess, saying, “God assist me to make good my vow.”
When Elizabeth was topped, following her father, George VI, Britain was nonetheless recovering from World Battle II and its heavy bombing campaigns; Winston Churchill was prime minister and the nation nonetheless had an empire. The younger Queen’s coronation prompt a brand new period — because the thousands and thousands of tv units bought to observe the stay broadcast of the ceremony from London’s Westminster Abbey signaled.
However the coronation itself was steeped in custom and confirmed the intertwining of the monarchy and faith. The more-than-1,000-year-old ceremony entails the anointing of the monarch, who commits himself or herself to the folks by way of sacred guarantees.
A type of, to uphold the Protestant faith, can be a reminder of the non secular divisions of the nearer previous.
The Queen’s two titles of Defender of the Religion and Supreme Governor of the Church of England, given to her at her accession, additionally owe their existence to Reformation historical past. The primary was first bestowed on Henry VIII by a grateful pope for the king’s rebuttal of the teachings of Martin Luther. Henry defiantly held onto it even after breaking with Rome to declare himself head of the brand new Church of England.
His daughter, the primary Elizabeth, dubbed herself Supreme Governor of the Church of England, saying Jesus Christ was its head. To at the present time, the British monarch retains constitutional authority within the established church however doesn’t govern it. The fashionable Elizabeth left that to the bishops, though she addressed common synods and maintained a job as a listener and information to her primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
On Thursday, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby released a statement noting the “indicators of a deeply rooted Christian religion” within the Queen’s life: her braveness at the same time as she mourned her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April 2021; her reminders within the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic that darkness can not overcome mild; her service to “her folks and her God.”
“As a trustworthy Christian disciple, and in addition Supreme Governor of the Church of England, she lived out her religion daily of her life. Her belief in God and profound love for God was foundational in how she led her life – hour by hour, daily,” Welby wrote.
Whereas Defender of the Religion has been an inherited title and little extra, Elizabeth II embraced it and lately made it her personal, talking very brazenly about her religion and explaining the way it offered the framework of her life.
She did this principally by way of her annual Christmas message, a convention begun by her grandfather, George V, in 1932, and continued by her father. Her early Christmas Day broadcasts had been platitudinous — the vacations as an event for household was a frequent theme. In 2000, nonetheless, she spoke of the millennium as the two,000-year anniversary of the delivery of Jesus Christ, “who was destined to vary the course of our historical past.”
She went on to talk very personally and albeit about her religion: “For me the teachings of Christ and my very own private accountability earlier than God present a framework during which I attempt to lead my life. I, like so a lot of you, have drawn nice consolation in tough occasions from Christ’s phrases and instance.” Related sentiments have been aired at Christmas ever since.
The Queen led the nation at common companies honoring the battle lifeless, or providing thanksgiving for her jubilees, however worship was not, for her, solely a public present. She attended church usually all through her life and is alleged to have had an uncomplicated, Bible- and prayer-book-based religion.
That love of the Bible was one thing she shared with American evangelist Billy Graham, whom she invited to evangelise for her on a number of events. Whereas the closeness the Netflix collection “The Crown” prompt between them appears far-fetched, Graham’s son Franklin Graham stated Thursday that the Queen and his father shared a friendship that “was constructed on a shared love for Jesus Christ and perception in God’s Phrase.”
“My father stated he discovered Queen Elizabeth ‘to be a girl of uncommon modesty and character,’ and made a pledge to hope for her and her household daily. He additionally appreciated how she typically talked about Jesus Christ throughout her public addresses—there was by no means any query about the place she positioned her religion,” stated Franklin Graham, who heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Affiliation and Samaritan’s Purse.
He added: “The Queen was a pal to my father, however extra importantly, she was a real pal of the Christian religion. She will likely be profoundly missed.”
Elizabeth relied on the deans of Windsor — the clerics who run St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Fortress — for non secular solace.
Her husband and her son Charles, who succeeds her, all the time displayed a extra mental curiosity about faith, together with an important curiosity in each different Christian denominations and different faiths as Britain’s non secular panorama grew to become more and more numerous.
Elizabeth expressed an growing openness as effectively. She inspired members of all faiths to be current at nice church events and within the annual Commonwealth Day service held at Westminster Abbey. She met 5 popes — a exceptional turnaround for a monarchy that after broke so spectacularly from Rome — although she by no means went as far as to ask different non secular leaders to be a chaplain or supply different non secular recommendation.
There was discuss of disestablishment of the Church of England, even in Anglican circles, though there was little name for this from different faiths. However Elizabeth’s views appeared obvious when the Queen spoke at Lambeth Palace in 2012, suggesting the Church of England would possibly act as a kind of umbrella below which different faiths would possibly shelter, saying Anglicanism “has an obligation to guard the free observe of all different faiths on this nation.”
At her Platinum Jubilee thanksgiving service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, in June, Buddhist and Jewish leaders had been current alongside Anglicans and different Christians.
On Thursday, many spiritual leaders shared statements mourning the Queen’s demise.
In a telegram providing his condolences to Britain’s new monarch, King Charles III, Pope Francis reportedly wrote, “I willingly be a part of all who mourn her loss in praying for the late Queen’s everlasting relaxation, and in paying tribute to her lifetime of unstinting service to the great of the Nation and the Commonwealth, her instance of devotion to responsibility, her steadfast witness of religion in Jesus Christ and her agency hope in his guarantees.”
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church, who spoke on the wedding ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, stated in a written statement he was praying for all those that knew and cherished Elizabeth.
“Her resilience, her dignity, and her mannequin of quiet religion and piety have been—and can proceed to be—an instance for therefore many,” Curry stated.
Many figures of religion and the church will likely be among the many dignitaries paying their respects at her mendacity in state at Westminster Corridor and at her funeral at Westminster Abbey. In response to plans outlined in Politico in 2021, she will likely be buried within the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Fortress, exterior London, after an Anglican service at St. George’s Chapel there.
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