70 Years of faith & serviCe
70 Years of faith & serviCe
1. a Personal JourneY 7
2. PuBliC ProMises 15
3. What has Most value? 23
4. the hiDDen CereMonY 31
5. a CroWn of thorns 39
6. a sourCe of strenGth 47
7. the PeaCe of GoD 55
On 6 February 1952,
Our Faithful Queen, includes some
of the prayers, Bible readings and
Mary Windsor became
devotional thoughts that were
Queen. Arrangements began almost
included in that slim, black, leatherbound
volume. Some of the language
immediately for her Coronation.
There were new coins to be minted;
of the Devotions has been made more
new stamps to print; and new
accessible to modern readers, but the
Coronation robes to be made.
meaning is the same.
The young Queen also needed to prepare spiritually
and emotionally. Her spiritual preparation was
overseen by the then Archbishop of Canterbury,
Geoffrey Fisher. To help her prepare for her new role,
he wrote A Little Book of Private Devotions – short,
daily meditations with Bible readings and prayers,
which he gave to the Queen to use from 1 May 1953 to
the day of her Coronation. These 33 days of Devotions
give us an insight into the personal preparations the
Queen made for her role as Sovereign.
Fewer than a dozen copies of the Little Book
of Private Devotions were printed. This new book,
The focus of the Devotions is the deep symbolism
of the Coronation ceremony, rooted in the Bible
– the best-selling book of all time. The Archbishop
highlighted the different stages in the ceremony: the
approach and procession into Westminster Abbey;
the oaths; the giving of the Bible; the Communion
service; the anointing; the blessing and clothing with
the royal robes; the presentation of the symbols of
royalty including the orb, sceptre and crown, then
the blessing of the Duke of Edinburgh and prayers
for the Church.
At the heart of the Coronation,
there was a hidden ceremony,
screened from view under a
canopy so the television cameras
could not film it. At this most
sacred moment, the Queen was
anointed with oil.
Anointing symbolically sets
people apart for service and pours out the life and
power of God. As the Devotions explain, ‘a new
relationship is established between God and his
servants’. God’s anointing makes the difference
between an ordinary human life and a life empowered
by God’s Holy Spirit.
Seventy years after her
Coronation, this new book aims
to show that, through her
anointing and in answer to the
prayers of her people, God
equipped the Queen for her
The words of the National
Anthem, ‘God save our gracious
Queen; long live our noble
Queen…’ are a prayer many of
us have sung, perhaps without
even realising it is a prayer.
Queen Elizabeth II is now one
of the world’s longest serving
monarchs. In the year she became Queen she asked
people around the Commonwealth to pray for her
‘that I may faithfully serve him [God] and you,
all the days of my life’.
These are prayers God has answered.
Just as God has equipped the
Queen for her role as Sovereign
over the past 70 years and
answered her prayers, Christians
believe that God wants to equip
each of us for our roles in life and
invites us to talk to him in prayer
so he can answer our prayers too.
Top: leaving Westminster Abbey after the
Bottom: receiving the Spurs of Chivalry from the
Lord Great Chamberlain during the Coronation.
Right: at the State Opening of Parliament, 2006.
The Duke and Duchess of York with Princess Elizabeth, 1928.
oUR fAITHFUL QUEEN
a Personal JourneY of
lizabeth II was not born to be Queen.
Her father, the Duke of York, was the
second son of King George V, so the young
Elizabeth had little expectation of
becoming the Sovereign.
She began 1936 as a 9-year-old who loved horses and
dogs, and was being prepared for life as a country
gentlewoman. But by the end of the year she was
next in line to the throne. Her uncle, Edward VIII,
had abdicated and immediately her father had
become King George VI.
Even then, she might have expected to be middleaged
before becoming Queen, but her father was just
56 when he died. By her 27th birthday, the stage was
set for this young wife and mother of two to be
crowned. Her formal titles were ‘Elizabeth the
Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her
other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the
Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith’.
Grace is the unearned favour of God. She did not
take the ‘Grace of God’ for granted.
Top left: Princess Elizabeth at
a Coronation Concert, 1937.
CalleD BY GoD
The first words Archbishop Fisher
gave the Queen to consider in the
Devotions were a prayer from the
Bible: ‘Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths. Guide me in
your truth and teach me, for you
are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day
long...’. Then he added these words for her to say
as she prepared herself for her Coronation:
The whole of life is a journey to God. In its course
are many lesser journeys taken for many different
purposes. Sometimes the Bible records special
journeys undertaken for
special purposes in answer
to a call from God…
Such will be my journey
to Westminster. It will be
undertaken in obedience
to a call from God.
I have not chosen this office for
myself: he has appointed me to it,
and I go to be consecrated to it by
him. My prayer must echo that of
the Virgin Mary, and that of our
Lord himself: ‘Be it unto me
according to thy will’; ‘Not what
I will, but what thou wilt’. And because he leads,
I may follow in complete trust.
By accepting her role, the Queen sacrificed her
personal preferences and private life to adopt a life
of duty and service in obedience to God’s call,
trusting him to lead her.
I have not chosen
this office for myself;
he has appointed me
to it… because he
leads, I may follow
in complete trust
Bottom left: Princess Elizabeth at the Royal
Naval College in Dartmouth in 1939,
where her future husband was training.
Right: with the Archbishop of Canterbury
Geoffrey Fisher, 1947.
DeDiCateD to serve
She knew it was not a role she could undertake alone.
On her 21st birthday, Princess Elizabeth asked for her
people’s support and God’s help:
I declare before you all that my whole life whether
it be long or short shall be devoted to your service
and the service of our great imperial family to
which we all belong. But I shall not have strength
to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in
it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that
your support will be unfailingly given. God help me
to make good my vow, and God bless all of you
who are willing to share in it.
In her first Christmas broadcast as Queen in 1952,
she re-emphasised her dedication:
At my Coronation next June, I shall dedicate
myself anew to your service. I shall do so in the
presence of a great congregation, drawn from
every part of the Commonwealth and Empire,
while millions outside Westminster Abbey will
hear the promises and the prayers being offered
up within its walls, and see much of the ancient
ceremony in which kings and queens before me
have taken part through century upon century.
And she asked for prayer:
Pray 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.
It is a prayer God has answered.
Top right: on her 21st birthday.
Bottom right: with her father King George VI.
Left: the Queen’s first Christmas day broadcast, December 1952.
By 1 May 1953, as the countdown
to her Coronation began, the
prayer she was invited to pray
using the thees and thous
language of the day, was based on
the words of Jesus. He said: ‘I am
the way and the truth and the life’
– words which give all Christians,
including queens and kings,
confidence that they do not need
to take the journey through life alone. The prayer
could be translated into contemporary language as:
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the way, the truth and
the life: Keep me from wandering from your ways.
Help me to trust you, the truth, and to be filled
with your life. May your Holy Spirit teach me to
live the right way, to be truthful, and to be filled
with your life, living to please
Looking ahead to the moment
when she would kneel in private
prayer in front of Westminster
Abbey’s altar as the ceremony
began, the Devotions invited her
Publicly and privately
the Queen put her
trust in God and
to use: ‘the simplest words of
trust in God and of trusting
oneself to God’ – again words
from the Bible:
‘In quietness and trust
is your strength…’
written by the 8th-century BC Israelite
prophet Isaiah – Isaiah chapter 30 verse 15
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You believe in God; believe also in me.’
Jesus’ words recorded by John, in his eye-witness account
of Jesus' life, John's Gospel chapter 14 verse 1
Although life’s journey had taken an unexpected
turn, publicly and privately the
Queen put her trust in God
and drew strength from him
for the task ahead.
Top left: Princess Elizabeth in her Auxiliary
Territorial Service (ATS) uniform, 1945.
Bottom left: with Princess Anne, the Welsh pony,
Greensleeves, and the corgis, Whisky and Sugar.
Right: with the Duke of Edinburgh and their
children Charles and Anne, 1951.
oUR fAITHFUL QUEEN
ueen Elizabeth II was crowned
on 2 June 1953 in Westminster
Abbey, the setting for every Coronation
since 1066, using words which descend
directly from those used at the
Coronation of King Edgar in 973.
In preparation, the Devotions highlighted Psalm 122;
words from the Bible, written by the Hebrew King
David, which were sung as she walked into the Abbey.
I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into
the house of the Lord…
As the Queen’s Devotions observed:
This building through which I proceed…is above all
the House of God…It is that I may serve the unity
and peace of my peoples, that I come now into
God’s house and into his presence.
There were 8,251 guests waiting to welcome her into
the Abbey, representing 129 nations and territories.
A further 27 million people in the UK watched the
ceremony on television and 11 million listened on the
radio. But the most spiritual and significant parts
of the three-hour service were not televised.
No one could see into the heart of the young woman
who knelt to pray as she dedicated herself to a life
of service and duty.
Using the Devotions
for her prayers of
preparation, the Queen
thanked God for:
‘…the rich treasures of unity and peace which thou
hast given to this country and Commonwealth’.
And she prayed:
Lord Jesus, let the love of all who will be present
in the Abbey to witness my Coronation and of
all who will hear the service or see it from afar
surround me and uphold me, that they and
I together may dedicate ourselves, our souls
and bodies, to that true and reasonable service
which shall be acceptable unto thee. Amen.
Solemn promises were a key part of the Coronation;
the first showed the restrictions of her role and her
respect for the people of
LORD JESUS, LET THE LOVE
OF ALL WHO WILL BE
PRESENT IN THE ABBEY…
It must be my
constant prayer that
and partnership may
…I promise to govern
the peoples in all Realms
and Territories of the
according to their
respective laws and customs. Their will must prevail
and I must accept it: for the Crown is the final
constitutional power and must ratify their will.
And in her Devotions she added:
…it must be my constant prayer that true
brotherhood and partnership may be achieved
throughout the Commonwealth between
peoples of many different races and cultures
and religious faiths.
That ‘constant prayer’ has been answered in many
ways as the Commonwealth has developed as a
friendly, voluntary association of 54 independent and
equal countries, almost
all of which were
formerly under British
rule, and which include
about one-third of the
JustiCe & MerCY
The Coronation Oath also required
the Queen to promise to ‘cause
Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be
executed in all your judgements’.
As a teenager Princess Elizabeth learned early lessons
about justice and mercy.
When she was just 15, her father the King made her
Colonel of the Grenadier Guards. Her governess
Marion Crawford later wrote: ‘Lilibet [the Queen’s
nickname] took to her duties with immense
seriousness and zeal…Like all young people, in her
enthusiasm she almost overdid it. After one
inspection, at which Lilibet had made some rather
pointed criticisms in her ringing voice, one of the
majors said to me, laughing: “Crawfie, you should
tell the Princess quietly that the
first requisite of a really good
officer is to be able to temper
justice with mercy.”’
As she prepared to promise to
‘execute justice with mercy’ as
Queen, she was invited in her
Devotions to reflect on God’s
Both Justice and Mercy reveal spiritual strength
and are parts of God’s character: he is all-holy…
and he is all-loving and merciful too. But for us it
is terribly hard to hold together justice and mercy.
To learn painfully to do so by the mind of Christ in
small daily judgements and opinions is one of the
most important things a Christian has to do…
And so she prayed:
Lord, give us grace never to betray thy truth
and never to deny thy love, but by thy guidance in
every dealing with our neighbours
to speak and do the truth in love
to the restraint of evil and the
reconciling of men to thee, through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Top: inspecting the Girls’ Training Corps, 1945.
Bottom: with the King, at her first Trooping
of the Colour.
Right: at Sandhurst inspecting the troops,
including Prince William, 2006.
forGiveness & love
Throughout her 70 years on the throne, this prayer
for grace, truth and love in her dealings with people
has been put to the test many times.
In her 2011 Christmas broadcast 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.
A few months later, in an extraordinary gesture,
she put grace and forgiveness into practice when
she visited Northern Ireland and shook hands with
Martin McGuinness, who had been a commander of
the Provisional Irish Republican Army until 1975, just
four years before the Queen’s second cousin Lord
Louis Mountbatten was blown up by an IRA bomb.
At Christmas in 2014, she explained what inspired
her to forgive:
Top: at a Golden Jubilee picnic in London, 2002.
Bottom: dancing with Ghana's president Kwame
For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace,
whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration
and an anchor in my life. A role-model of
reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out
his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s
example has taught me to seek to respect and
value all people of whatever faith or none.
FOR ME, THE LIFE OF
JESUS CHRIST…IS AN
INSPIRATION AND AN
ANCHOR IN MY LIFE
During her 70
years of keeping very public promises, the Queen
has put duty before personal preference, showing
remarkable restraint and self-sacrifice, which
suggests that in private she has sought to make
those ‘small daily judgements’ mentioned in her
Devotions, which reflect the justice and mercy
Her example is Jesus Christ, the founder of
Christianity, as she said in 2016:
Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life,
and never travelled far. He was maligned and
rejected by many, though he had done no
wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow
his teaching and find in him the guiding light
for their lives. I am one of them because Christ's
example helps me see the value of doing small
things with great love, whoever does them and
whatever they themselves believe.
Top: visiting Sierra Leone, 1961.
Bottom: shaking hands with Northern Ireland’s deputy first
minister Martin McGuinness in Belfast, 2012.
oUR fAITHFUL QUEEN
What has Most
t her Coronation the
Queen also promised to
‘maintain the Church of
England’, the ‘Laws of God’
and the ‘true profession
of the Gospel’.
During the ceremony the Queen was
presented with many symbols of
monarchy, most encrusted with jewels,
including one of the world’s most
valuable diamonds. But the first item
presented was a Bible, described as
‘the most valuable thing this world
affords’ because ‘it reveals God to
the world’ as Archbishop Fisher said.
He added the Christian belief that the
…‘the Word of God’ because
it is the record, made by inspired
men, of the Word which has
been spoken by God to man first
through his people Israel, then
through Jesus Christ the Son
of God, ‘the Word made flesh’,
and up to this day through the
Holy Spirit in the Church.
Top: hand tooling the cover of the Coronation Bible.
Bottom: an open Bible at the Coronation Bible Exhibition, 1953.
Left: at Sandringham after making her Christmas Day broadcast
to the nation; the annual message was first shown on television
Top: Princess Elizabeth with her mother,
then the Duchess of York, 1932.
Bottom: with her mother and sister
Princess Margaret, 1936.
A love of the Bible goes back for
generations in the royal family.
The Queen’s maternal
grandmother, Lady Strathearn,
spent an hour a day reading the
Bible with her children, including
the Queen Mother. In turn, the
Queen Mother subscribed to
daily devotional Bible reading notes. She regularly
read Bible stories to the young princesses Elizabeth
and Margaret and taught them to pray. Both girls
started their weekly school lessons with half an
hour of Bible reading under the
guidance of their governess, and
weekly church attendance has
been a lifelong pattern for the
Queen who is said to keep a
well-read Bible by her bedside.
In his autobiography, Just As I Am,
the evangelist Dr Billy Graham
described meeting the Queen
on several occasions. He said,
‘I always found her very interested
in the Bible and its message.’
Showing more than a passing
interest in the Bible, in her
Christmas broadcasts the Queen
has referred several times to the
Bible story of the good Samaritan
and the importance of being
good neighbours. She made her
2020 December broadcast from
Windsor Castle, where she had
been isolating with Prince Philip since March and
said ‘The teachings of Christ have served as my inner
light…’. She also summed up Jesus’ story about a good
Samaritan who helped the victim of a robbery:
The man who is robbed and left at
the roadside is saved by someone
who did not share his religion or
culture. This wonderful story of
kindness is still as relevant today.
Good Samaritans have emerged
across society showing care and
respect for all, regardless of
gender, race or background,
reminding us that each one of
us is special and equal in the
eyes of God.
Right: with American evangelist Billy Graham
(second left) when he preached at Sandringham,
pictured together with his wife Ruth,
Prince Philip, the Queen Mother, and the Rector
of Sandringham, Rev Gerry Murphy, 1984.
This emphasis on serving others
was highlighted in her Devotions
with Jesus’ words from the Bible:
For whoever wants to save
their life will lose it, but
whoever loses their life
for me and for the gospel
will save it.
Mark’s Gospel chapter 8 verse 35
She also used these words to describe the Christian
Gospel, which she promised to maintain:
In the Gospel of Christ is Light out of darkness,
Freedom out of bondage, Life out of death, that
we may walk in the Power of God as his servants
and witnesses. It belongs to my care that the
true profession of this Gospel shall be strong
amongst my people and throughout the world.
Wherefore I must seek by God’s grace to be
a true and faithful witness unto the Lord.
When the Queen writes her Christmas broadcasts,
speeches she writes herself, she often talks about
Jesus Christ as the reason for the seasonal
celebrations. She identifies herself as one of Jesus
followers; a ‘faithful witness’ to Jesus.
Archbishop Fisher reminded her
that she was not alone in this
task. He quoted the Bible book of
Acts where Luke, a first century
You will receive power when the
Holy Spirit comes on you; and you
will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and
to the ends of the earth.
These words, spoken to Jesus’ first century followers,
echo through the ages to promise God’s power and
presence to his followers today.
After considering this verse, the Queen was invited
Almighty God…grant that the light of thy Gospel
may shine forth bright and clear to all mankind,
and may bring all men to a true faith in thee;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
She also prayed for the Church:
Lord Jesus, grant me grace to defend the Faith of
thy Church, in my own heart and life; and with the
whole company of the faithful to promote the
work of the Church for the good of this people
and the growth of thy Kingdom. Amen.
Top: leaving a Sunday morning church service, 2020.
Left: talking to her great grandson, Prince George, after
Princess Charlotte’s christening in Sandringham, 2015.
The Christmas broadcasts to
the Commonwealth show one
way in which these prayers
about defending the Christian
faith have been answered. The
Queen invariably mentions her
faith in Jesus Christ. Also, many of the hundreds
of charities of which the Queen is patron actively
‘promote the work of the Church’ and encourage Bible
reading alongside practical, joyful, serving faith. Some
report receiving personal cheques from the Queen;
donations which demonstrate her private support
for their work.
More than half a century after her Coronation, at the
2010 inauguration of the General Synod of the Church
of England, she emphasised to the gathering of
church leaders and representatives from churches
What matters is holding firmly to the need to
communicate the gospel with joy and conviction
in our society.
Pointing to Jesus Christ as the example, she added:
At the heart of our faith stand not a preoccupation
with our own welfare and comfort but the concepts
of service and of sacrifice as shown in the life and
teachings of the one who made himself nothing,
taking the very form of a servant.
THE QUEEN’S CHRISTMAS
LIVELY, PRACTICAL FAITH
AND HER PERSONAL
SERVICE AND SACRIFICE
The Queen’s life has demonstrated the themes
of joyful faith, service and sacrifice, which she
highlighted at that gathering. Her Christmas
broadcasts demonstrate her lively, practical faith
and her personal commitment to service and
sacrifice as she follows in Jesus’ footsteps.
Her challenge to the Church of England, in a speech
read for her by Prince Edward at the opening of the
2021 General Synod, was ‘to bring the people of this
country to the knowledge and the love of God’. She
acknowledged the country’s ‘richly diverse modern
society’ and recognised ‘the well-being of the nation
depends on the contribution of people of all faiths,
and of none’. But she remains true to her promise
as Defender of the Faith:
…to forward, as much as in me lies, the Church of
England in its work of preaching the Gospel and
building the Church, which is the Body of Christ.
Top: visiting the Commonwealth Games Village in Glasgow, 2014.
Right: leaving a service of celebration to mark the 400th
anniversary of the King James Bible at Westminster Abbey, 2011.
oUR fAITHFUL QUEEN
he most sacred part of the
Coronation was the anointing.
Hidden from view by a canopy, the
Queen’s regal robes were removed,
leaving her wearing a simple white dress,
as the Devotions reminded her:
…stripped of all royal dignity, to offer myself
in my own person for his work.
Symbolically she was coming to God as an ordinary
woman like any other Christian without any special
status. She was asking God to send his Holy Spirit to
enable her to take on her royal role. In her Devotions
she anticipated this significant moment:
By the anointing God makes, blesses, and
consecrates me Queen: and I am till my dying
day ‘his anointed servant’. In the anointing God
creates a new relationship between himself and
me, giving me for my use in this office just those
resources of his divine grace which I need to
dispose hands and heart and mind to do his will.
In answer to his call and consecration, I dare
to breathe the Virgin Mary’s words: ‘Behold the
handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according
to thy word.’
Left: dressed simply in white in preparation for the anointing, 1953.
At this point in the ceremony the
Archbishop anointed her hands,
chest and head with oil. In the
Devotions, to explain the
significance of the anointing,
Archbishop Fisher pointed to
Jesus and his baptism at the start
of his public ministry. The first
century eye-witnesses reported that the Holy Spirit
descended on Jesus like a dove and God’s voice was
heard from heaven, saying: ‘You are my Son, whom
I love; with you I am well pleased.’
The word ‘Christ’ means
‘anointed one’ and the Christian
journey begins with baptism
in water and the Holy Spirit,
symbolised by the anointing oil.
GOD’S VOICE WAS HEARD
FROM HEAVEN SAYING:
‘YOU ARE MY SON,
WHOM I LOVE ...’
In preparation for her anointing,
the Queen was invited to pray:
…that my heart may be ready
to receive him in humility
and godly fear.
Come Holy Spirit, and daily increase in all of us,
and in me thy humble servant, thy manifold gifts
of grace; the spirit of wisdom
and understanding; the spirit
of counsel and ghostly strength;
the spirit of knowledge and true
godliness, and fill us, O Lord,
with the spirit of thy holy fear,
now and for ever. Amen.
Top: the Ampulla, which holds the anointing oil,
and the Coronation Spoon.
Bottom: St Edward’s Crown, only used for Coronations.
Right: the crowning.
The purpose of this anointing was
clear. It was an anointing for service
to others. Again the Devotions
reminded the Queen of Jesus’
…the greatest among you
should be like the youngest,
and the one who rules like the
one who serves.
Luke’s Gospel chapter 22 verse 26
After the anointing, the Queen knelt for a blessing. In
the Devotions she was invited to look ahead to that
For a brief moment I can be quiet and still,
motionless in spirit, at rest before the Lord,
while the words of blessing flow
round me. As I look forward to
that moment, let me renew in
my heart the joy which is one of
the fruits of the Spirit.
The joy of the Christian does not spring
from external circumstances which are
often perplexing and painful; but from
our experience of the love and
goodness of God, of his presence with us, of his call
to us to share his work and shew forth his praise, and
from the knowledge that our labour is not vain in the
Lord but is for the increase of his Kingdom.
In preparation, she prayed:
O Christ Our God
…fill my heart always
with the joy of
O Christ Our God …fill my heart always with the
joy of faithful service…
Joy – one of the gifts God’s Holy Spirit gives – is
evidently an aspect of the Queen’s
faith which she expects and
experiences as she serves her
people. In 2013, when remembering
Prince George’s christening earlier
that year, she said, ‘As with all who
are christened, George was
baptised into a joyful faith of
Christian duty and service.’
After the anointing,
the Queen was clothed
in the linen robe and
the supertunica which
correspond to priestly
robes, described in her
Devotions as ‘robes of innocence and of humble
Her prayer of preparation was based on Jesus’
commandment to love others as God loves us
and to love our neighbours by serving them.
Publicly, neighbourliness is a recurring theme in
the Queen’s Christmas broadcasts. In 2000, she
Jesus' simple but powerful teaching: love God and
love thy neighbour as thyself - in other words,
treat others as you would like them to treat you.
JESUS’ SIMPLE BUT
TREAT OTHERS AS YOU
WOULD LIKE THEM
TO TREAT YOU
SMALL PRIVATE ACTS
OF SERVICE TO OTHERS
ARE AN EXPRESSION OF
OBEDIENCE AND LOVE Privately the Queen
is also known to be a
good neighbour, taking
a personal interest in the lives of those who live near
her homes and the other people she meets. On one
occasion, when she heard that a journalist in the royal
press pack was going to miss the birth of his child, she
offered him a seat on the royal plane to enable him
to get home in time.
These small private acts of service to others are an
expression of obedience and love for God in answer
to the Queen’s prayer for grace, humility and love.
Left: the procession leaving the Abbey. The 7.2 km route
to Buckingham Palace took two hours, so it could be
seen by as many people as possible.
oUR fAITHFUL QUEEN
a CroWn of
t would seem that the Queen is happier
wearing a headscarf than a crown, a cardigan
rather than royal robes. She is one of the
world’s richest women, but who would have
have her job? Her role as constitutional monarch
comes with little power and heavy responsibilities.
Archbishop Fisher reminded her of Jesus’ promise
to his followers:
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!
I have overcome the world.
John’s Gospel chapter 16 verse 33
In her Devotions she reflected on the anointing as
‘inward’ and ‘spiritual’ and the crowning as ‘outward’
and ‘secular’, but both were ‘aspects of my dedication
to God’s service in this office to which he has called
me and of his consecration of me to it’.
Although she was preparing to wear a priceless,
jewelled crown, the Archbishop pointed her to Jesus’
crucifixion and his ‘crown of thorns’:
There is another crown, the crown of thorns:
its wearer wore it for an unworthy people and,
by wearing it, made a way for their return to God.
The Archbishop encouraged the Queen to consider
that her earthly crown derived its significance from
the greatness of the people God was appointing
her to represent. But she recognised:
And so she prayed:
Lord, give me grace so to wear this crown of glory
that I may worthily lead this people to glorify
thee: Give me grace so to wear this crown of
thorns as thereby to manifest thy love to all men;
that, being kept faithful in all things, I may in thy
mercy receive with all faithful people the crown of
glory that fadeth not away: through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.
She asked God to help her to love him for himself
rather for the gifts he gives:
and so, loving thee, to endure temptation and
finish our course with joy.
It brings also its weight of thorns: no one may be
set to represent others, without having to bear the
burden of his [or her] own labours, of his [or her]
own failings, and of the contradictions of evil in
During her 70 year reign, the Queen has known her own
burden of sorrow, bereavement, failings and betrayal.
She has taken the responsibilities of the crown to
heart, working long hours dealing with the red box of
government papers every day, except Christmas Day
and Easter Sunday, well into her nineties.
On the whole, her closest friends and staff have been
loyal and discreet. But she has been criticised, with
her usefulness and cost to the nation called into
question. Yet she has not given up on her promise
to serve, and has shown willingness to adapt and
change. In these ways she has proven to be a worthy
wearer of her earthly crown.
Left: visiting the village of Aberfan, South Wales, after coal waste
had engulfed the school, killing 116 children and 28 adults, 1966.
Right: outside Buckingham Palace, viewing the tributes left in
memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, 1997.
The Crown Jewels are kept under guard in the Jewel
House at the Tower of London. Viewing them together
in all their dazzling beauty, it is striking to note how
many are surmounted by a cross.
Archbishop Fisher explained why:
The whole world is subject to the Power and
Empire of Christ our Redeemer but the Cross was
the price which our Saviour paid for the liberty he
has won for us: the Cross is the sign of his Victory,
and his Kingship, and his eternal Kingdom…
The Christian lives in two worlds at once;
the world of Christ’s completed kingdom…
and the world of continued conflict against
the powers of evil…
Conflict and difficulties are a part of all our lives,
including the Queen’s life. As she prepared to receive
the crown, the Queen was invited to meditate on
words based on Psalm 23, which reminded her of
God’s faithful love and care in all circumstances:
Only by God’s faithfulness and justice and mercy
can I stand before him and trust him, and say:
‘I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod
and thy staff comfort me; thy loving kindness
and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.’
IN 1992, A YEAR WHICH
THE QUEEN DESCRIBED
On the fortieth
AS AN ANNUS HORRIBILIS,
anniversary of her
accession in 1992,
THAT PRAYERS ‘HAVE
a year which the
SUSTAINED ME THROUGH
Queen described as
ALL THESE YEARS’.
an annus horribilis,
she acknowledged that
prayers ‘have sustained me through all these years’.
Four days before she gave that speech, Windsor Castle
had been badly damaged by fire. In that year the
marriages of three of her four children had broken
down. Any mother would have been saddened by such
a year, but the Queen had to endure it in the full glare
of the scandal-hungry media.
That year, and every year; that week and almost every
week of her life, the Queen would be found joining
millions of others in churches around the world,
asking God for wisdom.
Yes, she was crowned with a priceless, bejewelled
crown of gold. But she has also worn her
metaphorical ‘crown of thorns’ with the grace and
faithfulness for which she prayed:
For myself, O Lord, and for my peoples I pray
that thou wilt make our minds to be wise, our
hearts sound, and our wills righteous, according
to thy will and unto thy glory: through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.
Left: Windsor Castle after the fire in November 1992.
When thinking about taking her seat on the ancient
Coronation chair in Westminster Abbey, the Queen
was encouraged to reflect on verses, which
Christians believe were written about Jesus:
Of the greatness of his government
and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over
his kingdom, establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness from that
time on and for ever.
Isaiah chapter 9 verse 7
Outwardly, the Queen was to take her place on the
throne; in her heart, she was being invited to
recognise Christ’s greatness and to respond in
As part of the Communion service that was integral
to the Coronation, the Queen was invited to offer
gifts of bread and wine. In a prayer of dedication and
preparation, she prayed:
Top: kneeling in prayer at the Westminster Abbey Silver Jubilee
Bottom: attending a Sunday morning service in Sandringham, 2018.
Right: alone at the funeral of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh,
in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, 2021.
Take, O Lord, and receive all my liberty, my
memory, my understanding, and all my will,
all I have and possess.
Thou hast given all this to me: to thee, O Lord,
I restore it; all is thine, dispose of it entirely
according to thy will.
Give me thy love and grace, for this is enough
With that prayer she offered herself to God in humble
and obedient service.
On honeymoon at Broadlands, Hampshire, 1947.
oUR fAITHFUL QUEEN
a sourCe of
y friendship I mean the
greatest love and the greatest
usefulness, and the most open
communication and the noblest
sacrifice, and the most exemplary
faithfulness and the severest truth, and
the heartiest counsel and the greatest union of
mind, of which brave men and women are capable.’
These words by the 17th century clergyman Jeremy
Taylor were included in the Devotions as the Queen
was invited to pray for her family and for her husband in
particular. Taylor’s words describe the loving friendship
to which any husband and wife would aspire.
While celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary,
the Queen acknowledged the support Prince Philip
had given her.
‘He is someone who doesn't take easily to
compliments, but he has quite simply been
my strength and stay all these years,’ she said,
‘and I...owe him a debt greater than he would
As newly-weds, Elizabeth and Philip enjoyed a brief
near-normal life in Malta while Philip served on HMS
Chequers with the Mediterranean Fleet. Returning
in 2015, the Queen said:
‘Visiting Malta is always very special for me.
I remember happy days here with Prince Philip
when we were first married.’
But family life had to take a back seat when she took
on the role of Sovereign.
LORD, BE MY STRENGTH,
AND MY HUSBAND’S,
AND LET US…FULFIL THE
CEASELESS DUTIES OF
FAITHFULLY AND WELL
She had seen the price
her father had paid in
accepting the duties of kingship. In preparing for her
Coronation, when life would change forever for the
couple, the Queen gave thanks to God for her family,
for the memory of her father, for her mother and
sister, for her husband, her children and her home.
And she prayed:
Lord, be thou my strength, and my husband’s,
and let us, united in thy faith and fear, help one
another to fulfil the ceaseless duties of our calling,
faithfully and well.
The duties of the Queen have indeed been ceaseless.
Even when she takes time out in Balmoral or
Sandringham, the Government’s red boxes are still a
daily responsibility. She has needed God’s refreshment
and grace, as she prayed:
Lord, help us to find in our home and children
a constant refreshment of spirit and renewal
And she prayed for their work as a royal family:
Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves.
Be with us in our going out and our coming in.
Strengthen us for the work that thou hast given
us to do. Defend us with thy heavenly grace, that
we may continue thine for ever and daily increase
in thy Holy Spirit more and more, until we come to
thy everlasting Kingdom; through Jesus Christ our
At work in Buckingham Palace reading daily correspondence
from her red box of official papers. Top: in 1959. Bottom: in 2015.
Right: three generations of royals during the G7 summit in Cornwall, 2021.
The Queen and Prince Philip with their children, 1969.
life has hardly
THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY
PARENTS AND CHILDREN
…IS STILL THE CORE
OF A THRIVING
for the Queen, she places a high value on family as
‘the core of a thriving community’.
At Christmas 2007, the year she and Prince Philip
celebrated their Diamond Wedding, she said:
In my experience, the positive value of a happy
family is one of the factors of human existence
that has not changed. The immediate family
of grandparents, parents and children, together
with their extended family, is still the core
of a thriving community.
She then reflected on the life of Jesus and his
…a family in very distressed circumstances.
Mary and Joseph found no room at the inn; they
had to make do in a stable, and the new-born
Jesus had to be laid in a manger. This was a
family which had been shut out. Perhaps it was
because of this early experience that, throughout
his ministry, Jesus of Nazareth reached out
and made friends with people whom others
ignored or despised. It was in this way that
he proclaimed his belief that, in the end, we are
all brothers and sisters in one human family.
Top: with Prince Charles and Princess Anne at the Royal Windsor
Horse Show, 1956.
Bottom: Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on her 80th birthday
with her daughters.
The inspiration gained from Jesus is something the
Queen wishes for her own family, as she said in 1978:
Christians have the compelling example of the life
and teaching of Christ and, for myself, I would like
nothing more than that my grandchildren should
hold dear his ideals which have helped and
inspired so many previous generations.
As she said in 2018:
Through the many changes I have seen over the
years, faith, family and friendship have been not
only a constant for me but a source of personal
comfort and reassurance.
Top: The royal family on Buckingham Palace balcony, 2018.
Bottom: with Princess Anne and daughter-in-law Sophie, Countess
of Wessex, at the Centenary of the Women’s Institute, 2015.
With Prince Philip in 2007 on their Diamond Wedding anniversary
revisiting Broadlands where they spent their wedding night.
oUR fAITHFUL QUEEN
the PeaCe of
n the day before her Coronation,
the Queen was invited to focus on
God’s gift of peace with these words:
The peace of God, which transcends all
understanding, will guard your hearts and your
minds in Christ Jesus.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians chapter 4 verse 7
The Devotions reminded her:
The Peace of God will be the last word of the great
service, and draws to an end this preparation for it.
I may be carried to the heights above of exaltation
or the depths of difficulty and depression: but the
Peace of God will never leave me.
All that has been good in my life and helped to
build me into the Peace of God – all people and
places that have influenced me and made me for
this hour, the glorious example of those who have
gone before me, the stedfast [sic] love of those
my dearest who surround me; the generous trust
and affection of my peoples, the goodness of so
many to me.
But above all God has taken me into his peace
and I praise him for his being what he is, for his
goodness, his enabling power, the certainty
of his unfailing love.
Left: ‘The Coronation Theatre’ painted by Ralph Heimans
in 2012 portraying Her Majesty in Westminster Abbey.
She was invited to pray:
Lord, may nothing ever separate me from thy
peace; neither the extremes of joy nor the depths
of sorrow, neither the acclamation of my people
nor my own fatigue or secret anxieties, neither the
demands of my sovereignty nor the claims of my
family life; neither health nor sickness, national
trials nor personal loss, times of tribulation nor
times of wealth. In all things, Lord, keep me
in thy love and peace.
Have her prayers been answered? Peace is one of
the qualities God’s Holy Spirit grows in the lives
of Christians along with other evidence of God’s
Those who have seen the Queen’s life behind closed
doors are the most qualified to comment on which
qualities are evident in her life.
Top: with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge,
during a visit to Nottingham, 2012.
Bottom: with the Prince of Wales at the Braemar
Highland Games, Aberdeenshire, 2006.
During a toast to the Queen at a lunch celebrating
their golden wedding anniversary, the Duke of
Edinburgh said: ‘Tolerance is the one essential
ingredient in any happy marriage.... You can take
it from me, the Queen has the quality of tolerance
The Queen with the Duke of Edinburgh, waving to crowds in Manchester, 2020.
Honouring the fallen at the grave of the Unknown Warrior in
London's Westminster Abbey, November 2020.
How does the Queen cope with the endless rounds of
official duties? Princess Beatrice said in 2017, ‘I find my
grandmother inspiring every day because her
overwhelming sense of duty is linked with an
overwhelming curiosity. Every day she's curious to
learn something new, to do something new…she goes
out into the community with a genuine curiosity as
to how she can be a force for good in the world.’
Although the Queen mixes easily with statesmen,
celebrities and dignitaries, and has been celebrated,
honoured and respected around the world for more
than 70 years, she has always appreciated the value and
contribution of ordinary citizens. At Christmas in 1954,
she sent a special message of encouragement to those
people whose names ‘will never be household words’:
May you be proud to remember – as I am myself –
how much depends on you … what you do is always
of real value and importance to your fellow men.
In 2020 she talked about the sacrifices made in the
Covid pandemic and compared the selfless duty of
so many with the sacrifices made by combatants in
the First World War. Reflecting on the tomb of the
Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, she said:
The Unknown Warrior was not exceptional. That’s
the point. He represents millions like him who
throughout our history have put the lives of others
above their own, and will be doing so today. For
me, this is a source of enduring hope in difficult
and unpredictable times.
MILLIONS LIKE HIM
WHO HAVE PUT THE
In that year when
LIVES OF OTHERS
Covid-19 had forced
ABOVE THEIR OWN
so many people –
including the Queen
– into isolation, she promised her prayerful support:
Of course, for many, this time of year will be
tinged with sadness: some mourning the loss of
those dear to them, and others missing friends
and family members distanced for safety, when
all they’d really want for Christmas is a simple hug
or a squeeze of the hand. If you are among them,
you are not alone, and let me assure you of my
thoughts and prayers.
Her words and example brought comfort and
encouragement to many.
What has been the source of her stability and peace?
As she said at Christmas in 2002:
I know just how much I rely on my own faith to
guide me through the good times and the bad.
Each day is a new beginning, I know that the only
way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to
take the long view, to give of my best in all that
the day brings, and to put my trust in God. Like
others of you who draw inspiration from your own
faith, I draw strength from the message of hope
in the Christian gospel.
As her Coronation ended, the Queen left Westminster
Abbey to the sound of the national anthem:
‘…long live our noble queen, God save the Queen’.
Seventy years later, after one of the longest reigns in
history, the prayers of that song have been answered.
As the Devotions came to an end on the evening of her
Coronation Day, the prayer she was invited to say was
once again a prayer of commitment to God:
Lord, this day thou hast been gracious unto thy
servant. Thou hast filled my cup with thy goodness
to overflowing. With a humble spirit and a
thankful heart, I commit myself to thy care and
will lay me down in peace and take my rest. Amen.
And finally, the last prayer in the Devotions…
a prayer for each of us, for all of our lives:
God be in my head,
and in my understanding.
God be in mine eyes,
and in my looking.
God be in my mouth,
and in my speaking.
God be in my heart,
and in my thinking.
God be at my end,
and my departing.
Right: crowds on The Mall, London, celebrating
the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, 2012.
HOPE Together gathers Christians
to make Jesus known, helping to
change lives and transform
communities through everyone,
everywhere knowing Jesus. Find
out more at hopetogether.org.uk
Author: Catherine Butcher
Design: Darren Southworth
Photos: Alamy, BBC/Bob Cosford,
CMS, Getty Images, Ralph
Heimans, iStock, Lambeth Palace
Library, Shutterstock, Wikipedia
Printed: Belmont Press Ltd
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The Queen frequently refers to
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As the Queen approached the day of her
Coronation, she was given a slim volume of
daily Bible readings and prayers to use as she
prepared for that powerful Westminster
Abbey service. This new book draws on those
prayers, Bible verses and her speeches to
show how the Queen’s Christian faith
enabled her to get ready to reign, and how
that faith has sustained her in the life that
The whole of life is a journey to God…I have
not chosen this office for myself: he has
appointed me to it, and I go to be consecrated
to it by him…And because he leads, I may
follow in complete trust.
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