THE QUEEN has expressed her gratitude for the prayers of the nation and the “steadfast love” and “faithfulness” of God, in the foreword to a new book published this week in celebration of her 90th birthday, which falls in April.
The “strength” of her Christian faith is the inspiration for The Servant Queen and the King She Serves, published by the Bible Society, HOPE, and the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity on Sunday. The Queen will turn 90 on 21 April; her official birthday this year will be celebrated from 10 to 12 June.
“In the last 90 years the extent and pace of change has been truly remarkable,” she writes in the foreword. “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.”
The 34-page book, written by Mark Greene and Catherine Butcher, and illustrated with photographs from the Queen’s life and 64-year reign, draws on the “central role of her trust in Jesus Christ in shaping her life and work” in nine short chapters.
The first, “The Queen’s Secret”, quotes an extract from her Christmas message in 2002, in which she said: “I know just how much I rely on my 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. . . I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.”
The book comments on her position as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, her “gruelling” schedule, and her “consistency of character” as both Head of State and the longest-reigning monarch in British history.
Further chapters explore her life and work before and during the Second World War, and her coronation, family, hobbies, holidays, and churchgoing. The Queen is quoted from in her Christmas speeches, letters, and rare interviews, throughout the book.
The final chapter, “Good Evening, Mr Bond” — a reference to her cameo with the actor Daniel Craig in a short film for the Olympics’ opening ceremony in 2012 — asks “What kind of Queen might we have wished for?”
Since 1952, when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Geoffrey Fisher, began preparing the future Queen for her coronation, she has endured “relentless media scrutiny”, and has become “enormously adaptable to changes in technology and culture”, the authors write. “Certainly there is much more to Elizabeth than her faith in Christ but you cannot understand her without understanding her devotion to him.”
A 12-page schools version of the book has been published by Scripture Union, which, with the material’s other publishers, is encouraging churches to celebrate the Queen’s birthday with thanksgiving services and street parties on Sunday 12 June, and to give the book away as a gift.
Copies are available in packs of ten at £1 a copy from www.hopetogether.org.uk/thequeen; the website also suggests ideas for celebrations.