A QUEEN OF FAITH (THE LEGACY OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II)
The death of Queen Elizabeth II has brought a justifiable outpouring of grief and respect from leaders and ordinary people in the United Kingdom and around the world. A woman who combined personal warmth with dignity served as Britain’s longest serving monarch having reigned for 70 years.
The queen who died on the 8th of September 2022 having inherited a vast empire spanning the African continent upon becoming Queen, saw all 14 African British colonies gain their independence, starting with Ghana in 1957. In 1961, she was pictured dancing with Kwame Nkrumah, who led the campaign for Ghana's independence and became its first president.
The leader of Nigeria, the biggest of Britain's former colonies in Africa, Muhammadu Buhari wrote a long tribute to her on Twitter, saying he learnt of her death with "immense sadness".
"The story of modern Nigeria will never be complete without a chapter on Queen Elizabeth ll, a towering global personality and an outstanding leader. She dedicated her life to making her nation, the Commonwealth and the entire world a better place." He also welcomed the ascension of His Majesty, King Charles III to the throne.
The Queen was also known for her ability to stay neutral and apolitical on pressing issues. She demonstrated this when in 1995 she paid a visit to President Nelson Mandela of South Africa a year after being elected president ending the system of racism popularly known as apartheid.
Picture: Queen Elizabeth II with first president of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
What must not be forgotten in the many tributes to the late queen is her faith in Christ. In her 2000 Christmas broadcast, for example, she said of Jesus, “In his early thirties, He was arrested, tortured and crucified with two criminals. His death might have been the end of the story, but then came the resurrection and with it the foundation of the Christian faith.”
This was no weak proclamation of Jesus as a nice man who said good things. The queen stated quite clearly her belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. This was brave, moving, and noble.
In her 2011 Christmas message, Queen Elizabeth II was again quite direct in her remarks. “Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves. From our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person neither a philosopher nor a general. Important though they are, we needed a Saviour with the power to forgive . It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.”
And in her first ever Easter message, given in 2020 at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the queen encouraged all Britons to remember what the celebration was truly about. “The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose, and we can all take heart from this.”
It was not only the British people who were touched by their queen’s quiet but vibrant faith. The late evangelist Billy Graham, in his autobiography "Just As I Am”, wrote of Elizabeth. The book said “Her official position prevented her from openly endorsing our Crusade meetings. But by welcoming us and having me preach on several occasions to the royal family at Windsor and Sandringham, she went out of her way to be quietly supportive of our mission.” Another evangelist, CEO of Britain’s Evangelical Alliance, Gavin Calver, went so far as to say, “The Queen has served incredibly and was also the greatest evangelist I could think of.”
Picture: Queen Elizabeth II
One of the Church of England’s leading clerics, the Archbishop of York, said in his tribute to Elizabeth, “The Queen was not shy in speaking of her faith and the hope and strength she found in Jesus Christ. At the heart of the good news of God is that through the death and resurrection of his son Jesus, the promise of new and eternal life is offered to us all.” The Archbishop, Stephen Cottrell, continued, “This belief, this hope, sustained our Queen and as she rejoices in that promise fulfilled so we too can draw comfort and hope from it.”
The queen sometimes referred quite directly to her own personal walk with God. For example, on one occasion, she said she was “very grateful to God for His steadfast love. I have indeed seen His faithfulness.”
Christians can rejoice in this beloved monarch’s example of faith amidst great change and, sometimes, great difficulty. She left behind a legacy of faith for her family, the UK and all Commonwealth countries to emulate. She stood her ground with regards to her faith and was not afraid to proclaim it. All believers should share in her boldness in proclaiming it by not being afraid to speak about your faith for all to know.