Her Majesty the Queen has written the Foreword to a book being published to celebrate her 90th birthday on 21st April this year. The Servant Queen – and the King she serves gives a unique insight into the Queen’s faith in and devotion to Jesus Christ. Indeed, she has written the Foreword – a quite remarkable imprimatur – which is replete with words of devotion, service and love:
In the last 90 years the extent and pace of change has been truly remarkable. We have witnessed triumphs and tragedies. Our world has enjoyed great advances in science and technology, but it has also endured war, conflict and terrible suffering on an unprecedented scale.
I am touched that Bible Society, HOPE and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity have published this book to celebrate my 90th birthday. In my first Christmas Broadcast in 1952, I asked the people of the Commonwealth and Empire to pray for me as I prepared to dedicate myself to their service at my Coronation. I have been — and remain — very grateful to you for your prayers and to God for His steadfast love. I have indeed seen His faithfulness.
As I embark on my 91st year, I invite you to join me in reflecting on the words of a poem quoted by my father, King George VI, in his Christmas Day broadcast in 1939, the year that this country went to war for the second time in a quarter of a century.
I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”
In the year that the Archbishop of Canterbury has called the Church to the “duty, privilege and joy” of a great work of evangelism, thousands of churches across the country will be giving away copies of The Servant Queen, and we owe HOPE, Bible Society and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity a great debt of gratitude for the evangelistic vision.
HOPE’s executive director Roy Crowne says: “We are thrilled to have the foreword of this book written by Her Majesty. The Queen has served the country and Commonwealth for more than 60 years. From 10-12 June 2016 we will celebrate her 90th birthday. It is a chance to say thank you to God and to the Queen for her life and example as a follower of Jesus Christ.”
Paul Woolley, Interim Chief Executive at Bible Society, said: “In drawing attention to the central role of the Queen’s faith in her life and reign, The Servant Queen will be a unique 90th birthday publication. The book will inform, surprise, entertain and challenge, all at the same time.”
Co-author of the book, Mark Greene, Executive Director of LICC, added: “As I’ve been writing this book and talking about it to friends, to family who don’t know Jesus, to my Jewish barber, I’ve been struck how very interested they are to discover more about the Queen’s faith. The Queen has served us all her adult life, with amazing consistency of character, concern for others and a clear dependence on Christ. The more I’ve read what she’s written and talked to people who know her, the clearer that is.”
Advanced orders for The Servant Queen have already exceeded 50,000. That makes it a ‘bestseller’ in the book market, though none of the groups involved has any commercial interest in the project. You can order your copies HERE, and HOPE will be supporting churches with other resources and ideas to bring communities together for this national celebration.
What a joy it is to have a Head of State who thanks her subjects for their prayers; who praises God for His steadfast love; and who declares His faithfulness through the times of darkness. The power of the Church of England to govern itself is both upheld and constrained by Royal authority, as Article XXXVII declares:
The Queen’s Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other her Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign Jurisdiction.
Where we attribute to the Queen’s Majesty the chief government, by which Titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended; we give not to our Princes the ministering either of God’s Word, or of the Sacraments, the which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen doth most plainly testify; but only that prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all godly Princes in holy Scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evildoers.
There are two distinct spheres of authority: the political and the spiritual. In the political realm, we have a Head of State who acknowledges her God-given authority under the law over every sector of society: she is “the highest power under God in this kingdom, and has supreme authority in all causes” (Canon A7). In the spiritual realm, we have a Supreme Governor of the Established Church who is guardian of its freedoms to preach the Word and celebrate the Sacraments. She does not have spiritual authority: that is given to her ministers under the headship of Christ.
Politics and ecclesial history aside, the Queen-daughter gives gracious thanks for the faith of her King-father: “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God,” she reminds us of his exhortation. “That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.” Amen.