Letters to My Friend

Thoughts On Queen Elizabeth II

by Mary E. Stephens
Sept. 10, 2022

Dear Friend,

The queen is dead. I'm sure you heard.

In my mind, it is the end of an era, a breaking point in history, a disconnecting from the past. This lady saw a truly amazing stretch of history over her 96 years. She saw the abdication and its aftermath of Edward VIII, moving her from a comparatively unimportant princess to the daughter of the king and heir to the throne. She saw the rise of Hitler and Mussolini and the horrors of World War II as it affected her beloved country and people. She saw her parents sacrifices through all of that as she stayed in London with her parents who insisted that they would not leave and go to a safe place, but would risk their lives with their people. Perhaps she was in the palace when Buckingham Palace itself was bombed. She herself served as an ambulance driver and mechanic during that War, an unheard of thing for the female heir to the throne. Indeed, there were many historical "firsts" for her in her lifetime.

As a wife and mother, in 1952 she became the queen of all that pertained to Britannia. She had Winston Churchill as her first Prime Minister to work with, and she also served with (and against) Margret Thatcher, the first woman prime minister of Britain. Both of these were larger-than-life characters in history. She undoubtedly served as a brake and a giver of wisdom for more than one prime minister of the UK, due to her extensive knowledge.

She met many, many important and long dead historical figures whom we look back on as giants of their times in various ways - people like John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Indira Gandhi, the Shah of Iran, etc. She also had the honor of being queen as a number of British colonies were granted their independence, including 11 African nations. (Please remember that she was not personally responsible for British colonization, as some would foolishly seem to imply.) Her knowledge and experience of historical events must have been broad, and it is a great loss that we no longer have this among any world leaders now, to my knowledge. There is an African saying that "When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground." This is very true in the case of Queen Elizabeth II. Because of her age, position in life, and responsibilities, she knew many things from firsthand experience that very few, if any others, now know.

Amazingly, in the face of all the misbehavior and occasional scandal that went on among her near and extended family, she herself seems to have avoided any ugly scandals directly connected to her good name (despite what the television and movies may have indicated). This is no small feat for a woman who lived the fishbowl life longer and to a greater degree than anyone else in her lifetime.

It is also a turning point for the British monarchy and United Kingdom on a spiritual level. Queen Elizabeth II claimed a personal relationship with God and has said things from time to time that reflect upon this. Her son, Charles, who is now King, has not really been known for this. He has been more interested in Buddhism and other forms of heathen spirituality, from what I've read. So, in relation to the spiritual heritage of the nation, things will be changing as well, despite the fact that King Charles III has made oaths under his role as "defender of the faith" and sworn to uphold the Protestant and Presbyterian church of Scotland (no doubt, among other things). I know Britain is already in a quagmire of despondency and abandonment of Christianity, but it seems that this event will likely push that further along the downward path. Only time will tell, I suppose.

But for me, there is a deeper undercurrent, because my family had lived in British colonies in East Africa. My mother was born to American missionary parents in Tanzania when it was still under the British crown, and my parents mostly grew up in Kenya and Tanzania when those countries were under Elizabeth II's reign. I believe my Mom was at boarding school in Kenya, where Princess Elizabeth and her husband were visiting when the princess's father died and she became queen. She was staying at the Treetops Hotel at the time and it is said that she was the only monarch who went up a tree a princess and came down a queen. My own grandmothers both admired her considerably, and were interested in the stories about her that indicated that she might actually be a believer. Because of these things, there was a more-than-usual interest in her among my family. In some odd sense, it's as if a piece of the history of my family has come to an end and, in some curious way, it feels as if something has broken.

Death - the Great Leveler

And yet, death is the great leveler. Speaking from the point of view of human reasoning, King Solomon, the wisest king who ever lived said this: "For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool." Ecclesiastes 2:16 Despite her wisdom and the good she did, at the end of the day, when HRH Elizabeth II passed out of this life, a body was left behind and it was no better than any other body that is left behind. Dead is dead. Grand memorials, expensive monuments, massive amounts of flowers, and well-spoken eulogies can't change that.

Again, Solomon wrote, "There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it." Ecclesiastes 8:8 There is no escape. Humanly speaking, no one can win against it, not the wicked with their tricks, not the mighty with their great strength, not the rulers of this world with their great power. The mightiest ruler, with servants who will jump to do their bidding, cannot stop death when it comes to them.

The Psalmist wrote, "They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:) That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption. For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others. Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish." Psalm 49:6-12 When it comes down to it, no one can buy someone else more time, no matter how much wealth they have at their disposal. We all die. All of our bodies will see corruption. In this regard, our bodies are no different than the animals.

It's all pretty hopeless. Unless...

For those of us who are born again and children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, the ending is quite different.

As I was thinking about the Queen, I was wondering, "What if she was truly saved?" She has been quoted as saying things at times that indicate this is a possibility, although it would be very difficult to know for certain under the circumstances. However, there is enough scripture remaining in the forms and rituals of the Churches of England and Scotland - things read at funerals and perhaps weddings, and maybe other occasions of high church ritual -  and there are hymns still sung that the Holy Spirit could certainly use to bring someone to salvation. Elizabeth II seemed to take her responsibility as the figurative head of the church seriously, so it would be likely that she would have informed herself of things as well.

If she was not born again then, like any other lost soul, she would go to hell, as the rich man in the story that Jesus told in Luke 16:19-31.

But...what if she was saved?

When she entered Heaven after leaving her body on this earth what happened? Do you realize that would have been the first time in her life that she entered a place where she wasn't just about the most important person there? Very few people on this earth were ever her equal or above her, humanly speaking. She would have stepped into that place on an absolutely equal footing with every other earth-born person there, except Jesus Christ Himself. And, I wonder what an immense relief that would be to her. No more pressures and no more responsibilities that come with being an earthly monarch. Her job is done, and all the importance and grandeur and power that went with it. If she is there, she is "just one of the folks" now for the first time in her life. And, somehow, I like that thought; and if she was truly born again, I think she would like it too.

A Sacrifice to Duty

She was a strong woman. There is no denying that. Very few women could endure what she did and not be destroyed by it. In fact, I would dare to say that, if she was truly God's child, then no one could have, and her strength must have come from God. Yes, humans can do a great deal in the line of duty, if they are truly prepared to make the fullest sacrifice, but in some respects there is that about her years of service which almost seems to me to cross over into the miraculous. We know that ...the powers that be are ordained of God. (Romans 13:1) Perhaps, even if she was not in fact a Christian, God granted her some extra measure of help because she feared Him, and that certainly can be proven.

But, regardless of whether we disagree with some of the things that she said or did (and I do disagree with some things), there is still something we can acknowledge and perhaps learn from her. She was willing to sacrifice greatly, deeply, and for many years in order to do what she believed and knew to be her duty. She did not turn back. She did not quit before she got to the end, although people certainly would have understood if she had. She did not come across as arrogant or full of herself. She did not allow herself to give in to the pressures of her life work when the going was hard. As we saw with Diana, the former Princess of Wales, and Meaghan Markel (whom I don't like to even mention here), there are women who think themselves able to do even a little of what she did, who find, in the end, that they cannot. No one who hasn't been through the paces with her can ever truly appreciate the level of pressure and the amount of strength required to do what the Queen did - for more than 70 long years, and late into old age. It is truly remarkable.

Yet, she did all this for a mere human responsibility. As a figurehead of a once great nation, she knew she still could contribute something and make life better and things more stable for the nation and the people she loved. Granted, it was a responsibility given to her by God, as per Rom. 13. And she took it as such, which made all the difference, I'm thinking. But, what resolve. What courage. What steadfastness. Imperfect, certainly. But, she went above and beyond the call of duty in many respects.

In the face of that, it makes me sad with Christians, myself included, to think how little we often sacrifice for the great work God has given us. I am not talking about money. I'm talking about time. Life. Our way of thinking about ourselves and the work God has given us to do. Our priorities on a daily level. The persistence that continues day in and day out, regardless of what our family is doing, what is going on in the nation, who is hating us, or whether or not we will die in the line of duty.

Duty. It is a sadly despised thing in this day and age. The world's message for some time now has been to "do what makes you happy" and "follow your dreams." Largely Western culture (in particular) has lost any concept of what it means to do your duty before God and man simply because it's the right thing to do. Not for fame. Not for fortune. Not to have something to put on social media (puny and miserable goal that that is). Most people want to know what they will get out of it or how they will become great or notable if they do hard things and make sacrifices. The idea that sacrifice is a natural traveling companion of duty doesn't seem to cross some people's minds. When they are confronted with it, they are apt to quit doing their duty in disgust or disappointment.

Our calling and election as Christians is so much greater than that of a humble earthly queen or king. We are the ambassadors of heaven, of God Himself. Every day. No matter what we are doing.

Romans 12:1-3 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

How are we representing our King? Are we a living sacrifice that reflects His great sacrifice?

It is a sobering thought, and it shouldn't be run past lightly. In fact, it is the only question that matters in terms of eternal values.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

In my heart, I hope that Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born again and is in Heaven now. How could we not hope so if we value every eternal soul? Yet so many die without Christ in the end.

But, ultimately, even if she was saved, her life comes down to this just as much as yours or mine: What are you doing that will count for eternity? Because when you get to Heaven, your importance on this earth, or complete lack thereof, won't matter one tiny bit. What will matter is, are you saved by the blood of Jesus Christ; and, if so, what did you do for Jesus with the one precious life He gave you? Did your life count? Did you do what He told you to do? Did you keep going to the very end? Were you found faithful?

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Revelation 1:5-6 ...Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Little is much, when God is in it,
Labor not, for wealth or fame.
There's a crown, and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus' name.

Kittie Suffield

Because Jesus loves you, Mary E. Stephens

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background and graphics by Mary Stephens
vintage graphic: unknown source
Cropped photo of Queen Elizabeth II: original by Cecil Beaton -
copyright status in U.S. unknown. Editorial purposes only.