Did Elizabeth really see my wife’s letter? Tamie has no way of knowing. I’m a skeptical journalist, so I guess not.
But it’s cool to imagine that she did!
In the meantime, here are five facts about religion in the life of Elizabeth, who wrote the foreword to a 2016 British Bible Society book titled “The Maid Queen and the King She Serves” (this king being Jesus):
1. She was the official head of the Church of England.
The Associated Press obituary by Danica Kirka, Jill Lawless and Sylvia Hui Explain :
In the British constitutional monarchy, the Queen is the head of state but has little direct power; in its official actions, it does what the government commands. However, she was not without influence. The Queen, officially the head of the Church of England, reportedly once said she could do nothing legally to block the appointment of a bishop, “but I can always say I would like more information. This is an indication that the Prime Minister will not miss.
2. She spoke openly about her Christian faith.
Writing for Religion News Service, Catherine Pepinster Remarks:
While Defender of the Faith has been an inherited title and nothing more, Elizabeth II has embraced it and made it her own in recent years, speaking very openly about her faith and how it provided the framework for her life.
She did this primarily through her annual Christmas message, a tradition started by her grandfather, George V, in 1932, and continued by her father. His early Christmas Day broadcasts were mundane—the holiday as a family occasion was a frequent theme. In 2000, however, she referred to the millennium as the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, “which was destined to change the course of our history.”
She went on to speak very personally and candidly about her faith: “For me, the teachings of Christ and my own personal responsibility before God provide a framework within which I try to live my life. Like many of you, I have drawn great comfort in difficult times from the words and example of Christ. Similar sentiments have been aired over Christmas ever since.
3. Trust in God was “fundamental” in his life.
The Washington Times’ Mark A. Kellner reports:
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, symbolic leader of the global Anglican Communion, hailed the late monarch’s commitment to her Christian faith.
“As a faithful Christian disciple, and also Supreme Governor of the Church of England, she lived her faith every day of her life,” Bishop Welby said in a statement. “Her trust in God and her deep love for God were fundamental to the way she led her life – hour by hour, day by day,” he added.
4. She met five popes in her lifetime.
Francois X. Rocca, the wall street journal vatican correspondent, recount :
Pope Francis met the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Vatican in 2014, when the royal couple presented him with whiskey produced at their Balmoral Castle in Scotland as a gift.
Queen Elizabeth has met five popes in her lifetime, starting with Pope Pius XII in 1951 when she was still a princess.
The others she met were Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, Pope John Paul II in 1980, 1982 and 2000 and Pope John XXIII in 1961, according to Courtney Mares of the Catholic News Agency.
5. She was friends with the late evangelist Billy Graham.
To Christianity today, Dudley Delff points out:
Her friend and confidant Billy Graham testified to the Queen’s love for the Bible, as well as the strength and depth of her Christian faith, in his autobiography, Just as I am.
“No one in Britain has been more cordial to us than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” Graham wrote. “Almost every occasion I’ve been with her has been in a warm, informal setting, like lunch or dinner, alone or with a few family members or other close friends.”
They rarely went public with their encounters or leveraged their professional relationship, but the two maintained a friendship that lasted more than 60 years until Graham’s death in 2018. He wrote, “I always found it very interested in the Bible and its message.
The Washington Post Sarah Pulliam Bailey made a fascinating piece in 2018, fact-checking the portrayal of Elizabeth and Graham’s relationship on the Netflix show “The Crown.”
Bonus fact: Britain’s national anthem “God Save The King” – or, in Elizabeth’s reign, “God Save The Queen” – go back at least in the 18th century and possibly in the 17th century.
For some final analysis, let’s go back to my original expert.
“She went to church every Sunday,” Tamie said. “It’s kind of ingrained in the culture when you think of her and the monarchy. But I don’t think there will be another British monarch who will go about it the way she did.