It’s strange being a British-born American.
The recent death of Queen Elizabeth II was another reminder of how my British and my American self often see things from different perspectives.
Now living in the UK, I made the pilgrimage to London last weekend to pay my respects to the late Queen. I, like many others, admired her unfailing duty to her country. But I also loved her quietly expressed devotion to Jesus.
Those who watched Her Majesty’s state funeral last Monday can’t help but have seen the influence of her deep Christian faith—a faith that she often mentioned in her annual Christmas Day, televised, primetime message to the Commonwealth nations.
The Queen didn’t speak about her faith in abstract terms. She was specific. She spoke about Jesus and what his life meant to her personally.
To quote directly a few of Her Majesty’s own words: “God sent into the world a unique person—neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Savior, with the power to forgive. It is my prayer that… we might all find room in our lives for the… love of God through Christ our Lord.”
By her own words and public testimony, I believe Queen Elizabeth was a follower of Jesus.
In my nearly 30 years living in America, where I was privileged to become a U.S. citizen, I can’t think of a time when I heard any president utter such words from his heart directly to the nation on primetime television.
These are the words of a monarch, the United Kingdom’s head of state. But they are also the words of an evangelist.
Get Rid of the Monarchy?
I’ve met many people in America who admired Queen Elizabeth. I’ve also met some who look down on the idea of royalty. They view it as a relic of the past, a feudal system of serfs bowing and scraping before an unelected, privileged figurehead. “Why don’t you just get rid of her,” they’d say to me (as if I could do anything about it!)
How does a Brit explain what the Queen—or the King—means to them? Let me put it this way. How would you or I—as Americans—respond if someone said to us: “Why don’t you get rid of the Stars and Stripes, and give up your guns as well.” I don’t think that would go over too well, would it?
The Stars and Stripes and the right to own a gun are both fundamentally American to the core… they’re interwoven with our American identity. And the Queen, or King, is interwoven with what it means to be British.
I never met the Queen. I have, on one occasion, met the new King, Charles III, when he was Prince of Wales and heir to the throne. Does Charles follow his mother’s devotion to Jesus? That’s not yet clear to me. But my sincere prayer is that my new earthly king will come to know the King of kings in the personal way his mother did.
For myself, I am sad that I will no longer see the Queen’s radiant smile. In the UK, we will miss her reassuring presence. But I rejoice knowing that I can say with confidence: “God saved the Queen!”
I believe one day, as the Archbishop of Canterbury said at last Monday’s funeral service, “we will meet again.”
For me, by God’s grace, it will be the first time I will meet the Queen in person. Not before her earthly throne at Buckingham Palace, but before the eternal throne of her Savior and mine, the Lord Jesus Christ.
And there—as equals—we shall with joy cast down our crowns together at His feet.
Julian Lukins is a freelance journalist, former newspaper reporter and magazine feature writer. Based in the UK, he has dual UK-US citizenship and reported on the British royal family for a UK daily.