This week the Archbishop of Canterbury presented Her Majesty The Queen with a special Canterbury Cross, cast in silver and embellished with platinum, in recognition and gratitude for her “unstinting support of the Church throughout her reign”, and to mark her Platinum Jubilee year.
The full text of the citation by Archbishop Justin Welby:
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The Canterbury Cross
Services to the Church of England
This presentation is made to Her Majesty in her Platinum Jubilee year in recognition and gratitude for her unstinting support of her Church throughout her reign.
The Book of Common Prayer provided the following prayer
on the accession of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1952:
O GOD, who providest for thy people by thy power,
and rulest over them in love:
Vouchsafe so to bless thy Servant our Queen,
that under her this nation may be wisely governed,
and thy Church may serve thee in all godly quietness;
and grant that she being devoted to thee with her whole heart,
and persevering in good works unto the end,
may, by thy guidance, come to thine everlasting kingdom;
through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost,
ever one God, world without end.
Throughout her reign, Her Majesty has duly upheld both the Christian religion
and the Church of England in her roles as Defender of the Faith and
Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Whether in the formality of opening sessions of General Synod
or the more intimate context of her personal addresses to the nation and Commonwealth at Christmas, Her Majesty has made manifest her own deep faith and its relevance to all that she undertakes.
Her subtle understanding of the changing position of the Established Church in England has sustained and encouraged laity and clergy alike.
Her care for the unity of her people and the welfare of the least fortunate have been a constant inspiration to the whole Church.
Hers is an example of the Christian life well led.
This presentation of the Canterbury Cross is a heartfelt symbol of the love, loyalty and affection in which the Church of England holds Her Majesty and it represents the recognition and gratitude of her whole Church for her seventy years of unstinting service.
God Save The Queen!
There is a slight sense — as there was throughout the Platinum Jubilee celebrations — that we are saying goodbye to the Queen while she yet lives to witness the love, loyalty and affection of millions all over the world. Hers is indeed an example of the Christian life well led: she has been and remains a light in the world, and undoubtedly the greatest Supreme Governor in the history of the Church of England. Every Christmas, without fail, she proclaims the reconciling gospel of salvation:
“For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, He stretched out His hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.”
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.
And soon — as we all know, and this Archbishop of Canterbury surely dreads — the day will come when she lays down the burden of her crown at the feet of the King of Kings, and this Canterbury Cross will become an heirloom or a museum piece.
But not yet.
Please God she lives at least until 25th May 2024, when she will eclipse the Sun King.
Long Live The Queen!