Every pound coin in the UK bears an image of the Queen’s head, surrounded by the words: ELIZABETH II D.G.REG.F.D.’ It stands for: “Elizabeth II Dei Gratia Regina Fidei Defensor.” These words are in Latin and they mean: “Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith.” Henry VIII was the first monarch to bear the title of “Defender of the Faith” and most monarchs since then have also carried it and it passed to Queen Elizabeth II upon her coronation on 2 June 1953.
In part, this title simply expresses the Queen’s role as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. But it also has a personal meaning. Throughout her reign, Queen Elizabeth II has openly acknowledged her dependence on Jesus Christ. This has been central to both her public pronouncements and her private devotions. In fact, it has been with her through-out her life.
On the occasion of her 21st birthday in 1947 she made a radio broadcast in which she said this:
“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.”
This has also been a recurring theme in her broadcasts, especially her Christmas speeches. In the year 2000 she said:
“To many of us our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example.”
And 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.”
There is a lot to be thankful for as we look back on the long life of Queen Elizabeth II, her selfless service, her gracious dedication to her calling and her faith in Christ being three of the more important. So, on 12th June, as we celebrate her official birthday, I hope you will join with me in saying the prayer written for the Queen’s 90th birthday:
“Heavenly Father, as we celebrate the ninetieth birthday of Her Majesty the Queen, receive our heartfelt thanks for all that you have given her in these ninety years and for all that she has given to her people. Continue, we pray, your loving purposes in her, and as you gather us together in celebration, unite us also in love and service to one another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”