Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022. She was 96 years old. Her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, preceded her in death in 2021. Queen Elizabeth was the constitutional monarch of the United Kingdom from 1952 until her death. Her 70-year reign made her the longest-serving ruler in British history. She was also the modern world’s longest-reigning sovereign.
Since her death, numerous writers have paid tribute to the Queen. Albert Mohler offered a poignant reflection on her life and legacy for World Opinions. Kate Shellnut of Christianity Today provided a glimpse into the Queen’s personal faith in Christ and her role as the Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Outlets such as the BBC and NPR published lengthy obituaries that recounted the key moments of her life and reign. No doubt there will be hundreds of additional tributes, reflections, and assessments published in the coming days.
For my part, I have tremendous admiration for Queen Elizabeth. I was a teenager throughout the 1990s, and today I regret that so much of what I thought I knew of her at that time was filtered through the public scandals of her family. That began to change a bit after Princess Diana’s death in 1997, but the real turning point was 2006 when my wife and I watched the wonderful film “The Queen.” Like millions of others, we were later captivated by the Netflix series “The Crown,” particularly the early seasons that captured the first half of her reign. These artistic interpretations of Queen Elizabeth, along with my interest in twentieth-century history, led me to learn more about her remarkable life. (Leah, my wife, went a good bit further than me. She is a self-confessed Anglophile and “royal watcher” who pays fairly close attention to the Royal Family.)
As I came to know more about the Queen, the more I appreciated her deep sense of service to her nation. Countless rulers have come and gone during the past seven decades. Many of those rulers have been corrupt, using their position for personal gain. Others showed little concern for the people they claimed to lead. While the Queen was by no means a perfect monarch, her reign was characterized by an integrity that was rooted in her sense of duty. She provided a sense of stability to her nation that was unequaled during her lifetime. For the most part, her people loved and respected her, especially as time went on, even though many of them objected, in principle, to the monarchy.
I also admire the fact that the Queen’s Christian faith played such a prominent role in her reign. As a Baptist, I reject the validity of state churches. Among the many reasons for this rejection is the reality that state churches tend to elevate civic expressions of the Christian religion more than saving faith in Jesus Christ. While I appreciate the public virtues often promoted by state churches, and though I understand the appeal that state churches hold for many believers in an increasingly decadent and post-Christian West, as a Baptist I believe the seduction of nominal Christianity remains a clear and present danger. But Queen Elizabeth’s public religion reflected her personal faith. She was a real Christian. And she was not afraid to speak about her faith in Jesus Christ.
As a proud American citizen, I deeply appreciate the republican form of government articulated in our Constitution. I believe it is a preferrable political system to the United Kingdom’s constitutional monarchy. But as a Christian, I also know that the human desire for monarchy is woven into the fabric of creation. We long to give our fealty to a just ruler whom we can fully trust to always do what is right. For Christians, earthly monarchs remind us there is a True King who will one day return to fully consummate His kingdom. So, as I mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth—and though I was not her subject, I am mourning her death—I long for the Kingship of Jesus to be fully known among all people. Thank God for Queen Elizabeth, a Christian monarch worthy of our admiration. And come quickly, King Jesus.