Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 8, 2022 / 11:34 am (CNA).
Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, and the oldest and longest-serving head of state in the world, died at the age of 96 Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland after a brief illness.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born on April 21, 1926, was the elder daughter of Prince Albert, duke of York, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. There was little expectation that she would ever become queen, and she and her younger sister, Margaret, who died in 2002, are said to have lived a carefree, practically “normal” life.
That all changed on Dec. 11, 1936, when her father’s older brother, Edward VII, abdicated the throne to marry the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Her father became King George VI, and at 10 years old, Elizabeth became the heir presumptive.
At age 27, Elizabeth ascended to the throne after her father’s death on Feb. 6, 1952. In the course of her 70-year-reign, she served with 15 prime ministers, from Winston Churchill to the newly instated Prime Minister Liz Truss. Following a centuries-old tradition, Elizabeth officially asked Truss to form a new government on Sept. 6, although the ceremony was held at Balmoral Castle rather than Buckingham Palace due to the queen’s recent mobility issues.
Her extraordinarily long reign, which one observer noted covered 30% of U.S. history, was astonishing in that she remained physically and mentally engaged until her last days. As Head of State of Britain’s constitutional monarchy, she represented Britain and served as a stabilizing and unifying leader and advocate for members of the Commonwealth. Since she became queen, she made her role as Head of the Commonwealth a priority and saw the number of nations in the Commonwealth grow from eight to 54 today. During her reign, she also met five different popes.
Beyond her ceremonial functions, she was known for keeping well-informed of issues facing her nation. An avid horsewoman, she reportedly had to stop her beloved pastime last fall. As recently as this June, she was back in the saddle and was seen riding her pony at Windsor Castle.
Elizabeth was preceded in death by her husband, Prince Philip, duke of Edinburgh, who died on April 9, 2021. She had four children, eight grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. The eldest son, Charles, prince of Wales, will now become king and his wife, Camilla, duchess of Cornwall, will become Queen Consort.
The queen’s four children — Charles; Anne, princess royal; Andrew, duke of York, and Edward, earl of Essex — were at the queen’s bedside before she died.
A Christian leader
As queen, Elizabeth served as de facto head of the Anglican Church. Her title “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England,” dates to the reign of King Henry VIII. As such, she appointed archbishops, bishops, and deans of the Church of England and presided over the opening of their General Synods.
She was a vocal proponent of the practice of religion, whether it was Anglican or not. She used her Christmas Day message to call for interfaith harmony. On the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee marking the 60th year of her reign in 2012, she and the duke of Edinburgh attended a multi-faith reception at Lambeth Palace hosted by the archbishop of Canterbury.
“Faith plays a key role in the identity of millions of people, providing not only a system of belief but also a sense of belonging. It can act as a spur for social action,” the queen said.
“Indeed, religious groups have 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,” she said.
In matters of personal faith, the queen was said to have been deeply religious. The Washington Post reported that, according to Oxford University theology professor Stan Rosenberg, the queen had “a deep vibrancy of faith,” and “read Scripture daily, attended church weekly, and regularly prayed.”
Her Christmas radio messages were sometimes deeply personal and revealed a life of prayer and faith.
“I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad,” she said in 2002. “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. … I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian Gospel.”
This is a developing story.
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!
Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.
May she rest in peace & may her family find reconciliation & healing.
She wasn’t “de facto” head of the Anglican Church but formally and “in jure“ so. At least she didn’t think she was more powerful than the pope, like Kathleen Sebelius and the fisherman’s wife of legend did.
A woman of class and dignity. May God have mercy on her.
Queen Elizabeth II, in her speech for the opening of Parliament in 2017, made a clear, albeit nonspecific, call for protecting the U.K.’s gay citizens and a variety of other groups against discrimination. What sort of class are you talking about? May God have mercy on her.
She said: “My government will make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability or sexual orientation.”
Very broad and vague. Her 2017 speech, as a whole, is a laundry list of the omnipresent (and omnipotent?) Nanny State. But, then, that is Britain for you.
A reflection upon the Queen’s life on her eightieth birthday, sixteen years ago.
Shout and roar four score
Ancient line your place in time
Outward show all must know
Picture house Paramount News is my muse
Newsreel soon to be Queen
A Princess with grace joyous face
Wavy hair spirit fair
Open and pure in love secure
Bubbling with fun a family you had begun
A natural response to any prompt
Coronation day we party and play
I see a neighbour’s television and think of a prism
A different face for the princess with grace
A heavy load to bear as I watch from my small chair
Throne, gown, sceptre, and crown to weigh one down
A part to play come what may
Privileges for sure but the load evens the score
Your aids took your hand but your father took command
Love is manifest in many ways he would heap on you his praise
A mother you may be but a queen must be free –
To stand alone even to sacrifice a home
To serve the crown and mask a frown
In fifty-eight, you passed me by
I think you caught my eye
In glass showcase, I glimpsed your face
Still waving the flag but a little sad
More controlled myself I told
Joy, sigh, and cry time passes by
I had troubles of my own but yours were always shown
As you played your part often with a bruised heart
One side of the prism duty generously given
Each Christmas day a message you would say
Your Great grandmother’s aids would set the stage
If I may be so bold even more controlled
But with the autumn sun, a transformation has begun
From my television screen more gentle and real you seem
A heavy load you no longer appear to hold
Under your wavy hair, I glimpse you there
Give us one score more
Show us the side you were taught to hide.
May she rest in peace
kevin your brother
Well if nothing else she will now have absolutely clarity on the meaning of her having appointed archbishops, bishops etc..and whether it matters or not who was given such authority and who was not.
Wikipedia has the following on the style Defender of the Faith.
The two Scottish kings receiving the title from the pope did in fact defend the Faith.
The English king did the opposite.
Hopefully she had trusted in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior…..I’ve never read or heard her express her faith in Christ….the only way for eternal life in heaven.
Hello Brian, this was from her 2014 Christmas message:
““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.”
Thanks mrscracker…but did she ever admit she was a sinner and need of Christ’s saving work on the cross? Most everyone gets sentimental at Christmas, but her life should have been spent in repentance, prayer and evangelizing to those around her. Not much evidence of that, but should be a reminder for us to do those things and more. All that she had was given to her by God…it’s a shame she didn’t publicly exclaim that….God put her in a high position and she never gave Him the glory.
Her “faith” and “Christian Leadership” unfortunately did not extend to being willing to suffer the slings and arrows of defending the unborn by her perfunctory ratification of Britain’s abortion law. May God have mercy on her soul.
But not a word about His being a Divine person who died for our sins in order that we might live eternally with God. And that’s from a monarchy which purports to be the head of the CofE.
And those words of hers quoted, well-intentioned I am sure, could well have been said about a representing from Welcome Wagon. She was simply marvelous as a queen but pretty lackluster as the head of a Christian Church.