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A Tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll by Helen Mullins

14/09/2022

Eleven days ago, along with 9 others, I swore an oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II as part of the Reader licensing service in Lichfield Cathedral.  This wasn’t something peculiar to the Church of England – many people in public office are required to do the same.  Yet it seemed to me to have a double significance, for not only was the Queen our sovereign, to whom we owe allegiance, but she was also the head of the church to which we were being licensed. 

 

And for the Queen, this wasn’t just an empty job title.  Throughout her life she held a strong and genuine Christian faith.  In her first Christmas broadcast in 1952, as she prepared for her accession to the throne after the death of her father, she asked her listeners to:  'Pray for me … that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.’

 

When she became Queen, Elizabeth was automatically given the role of defender of the faith and supreme governor of the Church of England - a responsibility she took very seriously.  In 1970, she became the first sovereign to inaugurate and address the church’s General Synod in person, a practice she continued every five years.

 

Alongside her official role as head of the Church of England, the Queen held a deep personal faith in Jesus Christ which she expressed in her Christmas broadcast in December 2000 in the words: ‘For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life.’

The Queen had a living, active faith in a living God; the God who came “to serve and not to be served”.  She has been described as the most famous person on the planet, yet she lived out her life of duty and service with true humility.  

 

Her personal faith was evident in all that she did.  She worked for peace and reconciliation –her visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2011 was described by the Irish President as a "very special pilgrimage of reconciliation".  During the visit, the Queen laid a wreath in Dublin's Garden of Remembrance - a park dedicated to Irish people who fought against British rule.  At the time she said:  ‘Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.’ 

The following year, during an event at a Belfast theatre, she came face to face with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness, whose organisation had been responsible for the murder of the Queen’s second cousin, Lord Mountbatten, in 1979. It was a short encounter, lasting only a few seconds, but the handshake that ensued went a long way to cementing the peace process in Northern Ireland.

 

As Britain changed and became more culturally diverse, the Queen adapted to the changes.  In 2012, while celebrating her Diamond Jubilee, she attended a multi-faith reception at Lambeth Palace, meeting the leaders of different faiths in this country, including Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism.  At this event, the Queen highlighted the work of religious groups of all faiths commending them for having (and I quote) “… a proud track record of helping those in the greatest need, including the sick, the elderly, the lonely and the disadvantaged. They remind us of the responsibilities we have beyond ourselves.”

 

As well as her duties as a monarch, Elizabeth was also a much-loved wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother with a strong belief in the values of family life.  The deep love and respect her family have for her is seen in the many tributes that they have paid to her over the years - and indeed on her death.

 

And for many of us, Elizabeth II was the only monarch we had ever known.  She has been an ever-constant in our lives.  But the constant in her life was her faith in Jesus Christ, which she described as the “anchor” in her life.  Throughout her long life, Christ’s example and teaching have been seen acted out in her dutiful and faithful life.  It seems that her prayer from the start of her reign had been answered.  God did, indeed, save the Queen.

 

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