The world’s longest reigning monarch, Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms, while resting at her beloved Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and in the presence of family members, left this world on Thursday, Sept. 8. She had lived for 96 years and reigned for 70.
At age 10, Elizabeth became a king’s daughter when, in December 1936, her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated his sovereign rule leaving her father to assume the throne as King George VI. George was regarded as reserved by nature and of deep religious belief.
During the Nazi Blitz of London in WWII, as the face of the British Empire, King George remained at Buckingham Palace with his wife and two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. From there, he made frequent visits to severely bombed areas in order to strengthen the will of Londoners.
When in February 1952 King George VI failed to recover from lung surgery and died, his elder daughter, Princess Elizabeth, presumptive heir to the British throne, would soon become queen.
Having been born into the House of Windsor, Elizabeth was shaped by traditional Christian values, learned self-restraint, and adopted a profound sense of duty. Even at an early age, Elizabeth displayed the perfect temperament for the role that she would inherit.
In October 1940, Elizabeth gave her first radio broadcast offering a patriotic and reassuring message to British children. At age 18, she joined the war effort as a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British Army. And when Germany eventually surrendered, in a V-E Day radio address, Elizabeth spoke to the character of the British people with the words, “Never give up, never despair”, words that served as the theme of her future reign.
On her 21st birthday in 1947, Princess Elizabeth, in a radio broadcast, addressed the peoples of the British Empire: “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.”
On Nov. 20, 1947, Princess Elizabeth and Royal Navy officer Lt. Philip Mountbatten, born Prince of Greece and Denmark, a title renounced when he became a naturalized citizen of the UK, were married at Westminster Abbey in London. They would remain married for 73 years until the Prince Consort’s death in April 2021 at age 99.
It was on June 2, 1953, also at Westminster Abbey, that the coronation of Elizabeth II took place. On examining film footage of the ceremony, I believe an aspect of Divine embodiment was revealed through Elizabeth. Taking exception to the traditional, scripted protocol, Elizabeth walked past the Coronation Chair to kneel and pray at the chapel altar before being seated to take the Coronation Oath. It was as if before accepting the role of monarch to the British Empire, Elizabeth chose to first recognize God’s living presence and loving goodness on behalf of all people.
Queen Elizabeth II reigned for 70 years, the longest of any British monarch and the longest recorded of any female head of state in history. Throughout her rule, she exhibited qualities of dignity, selflessness, and devotion to duty. She forever exuded pride and gratitude as the leader of the Commonwealth.
Queen Elizabeth II led by example. She was both powerful and principled. She once said, “We need to have courage to stand up for everything we know is right.” While we seem to be living more in a world that puts a premium on self-gratification, we all can admire her strength of character, someone who never forgot her sense of duty to others.
Her 70 years on the throne was acknowledged at the Platinum Jubilee during which she received an 80% favorable rating from her citizens. Dedicated to the end, on September 6, the queen offered a warm welcome to newly appointed Prime Minister Elizabeth Truss, the fifteenth prime minister to serve during her reign.
It seems fitting that Queen Elizabeth II spent her last days at Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands. Ever since she was a child, it was the one place where she was most happy, where she could truly relax. And on the evening of her passing, a most rare double rainbow appeared over Buckingham Palace.
For me, it seems a coincidence in the Biblical sense that as acknowledgment of her full and generous spirit, God was offering a symbol of appreciation to Elizabeth for a life well lived and to us, a reminder of His loving goodness.