Elizabeth II, longest to rule Britain and Church of England, dies at 96
LONDON (RNS) — Elizabeth II of England, Britain’s longest-serving monarch and official head of the Church of England, died Thursday (Sept. 8) at Balmoral Fort 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 Warfare II and its heavy bombing campaigns; Winston Churchill was prime minister and the nation nonetheless had an empire. The younger queen’s coronation instructed a brand new period — because the thousands and thousands of tv units bought to look at the reside broadcast of the ceremony from London’s Westminster Abbey signaled.
However the coronation itself was steeped in custom and confirmed the monarchy’s intertwining of the monarchy and faith. The more-than-1,000-year-old ceremony includes the anointing of the monarch, who commits himself or herself to the individuals by way of sacred guarantees.
A kind of, to uphold the Protestant faith, can be a reminder of the non secular divisions of the nearer previous.
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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 this present day, 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.
However whereas Defender of the Religion has been an inherited title and little extra, Elizabeth II embraced it and in recent times made it her personal, talking very overtly about her religion and explaining the way it supplied the framework of her life.
She did this largely 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 have 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 beginning of Jesus Christ, “who was destined to vary the course of our historical past.”
She went on to talk very personally and admittedly about her religion: “For me the teachings of Christ and my very own private accountability earlier than God present a framework wherein I attempt to lead my life. I, like so a lot of you, have drawn nice consolation in troublesome instances from Christ’s phrases and instance.” Comparable sentiments have been aired at Christmas ever since.
The queen led the nation at common providers honoring the conflict lifeless, or providing thanksgiving for her jubilees, however worship was not, for her, solely a public present. She attended church commonly 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 (although the shut friendship the Netflix sequence “The Crown” instructed between them appears far-fetched). She relied on the deans of Windsor — the clerics who run St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Fort, the place Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married — for religious solace.
Her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April 2021, and her son Charles, who succeeds her, all the time displayed a extra mental curiosity about faith, together with an excellent curiosity in each different Christian denominations and different faiths as Britain’s non secular panorama grew to become more and more various.
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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 outstanding 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 provide different religious recommendation.
There was speak 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 form of umbrella underneath which different faiths would possibly shelter, saying Anglicanism “has an obligation to guard the free follow 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 have been current alongside Anglicans and different Christians.
Many figures of religion and the church will probably be among the many dignitaries paying their respects at her mendacity in state at Westminster Corridor and at her funeral at Westminster Abbey. Based on plans outlined in Politico in 2021, she will probably be buried within the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Fort, outdoors London, after an Anglican service at St. George’s Chapel there.
(This text is customized from an earlier profile that appeared in June 2022.)