Queen Elizabeth II's lifetime of service was inspired by her Christian faith and by the life of Jesus, who "came not to be served, but to serve," the archbishop of Canterbury said during the funeral service of the beloved monarch Monday.
Her 70-year reign, from 1952 to 2022, is the longest in the history of the United Kingdom. She died Sept. 8 at the age of 96.
"Her late majesty famously declared on her 21st birthday broadcast (in 1947) that her whole life would be dedicated to serving the nation and Commonwealth," Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said as part of a service at Westminster Abbey that was infused with prayer, Scripture and spiritual reflection. "Rarely has such a promise been so well kept. Few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen."
Welby quoted Jesus in John 14:6, saying Queen Elizabeth followed Christ's example.
"Jesus … does not tell His disciples how to follow but who to follow, said, 'I am the Way the Truth and the Life,'" Welby said. "Her late Majesty's example was not set through her position or her ambition, but through Whom she followed. I know His Majesty [King Charles III] shares the same faith and hope in Jesus Christ as his mother, the same sense of service and duty.
"Her allegiance to God was given before any person gave allegiance to Her," Welby said. "Her service to so many people in this nation, the Commonwealth and the world had its foundation in her following Christ, God Himself Who said that He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases, those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten."
Christians believe death "is the door to glory," Welby said. Those who put their trust in Jesus, he said, will see Queen Elizabeth again.
"Christian hope means certain expectation of something not yet seen. Christ rose from the dead and offers life to all – abundant life now and life with God in eternity," Welby said. "We will all face the merciful judgment of God. We can all share the Queen's hope, which in life and death inspired her servant leadership – service in life, hope in death. All who follow the Queen's example and inspiration of trust and faith in God can with her say, 'We will meet again.'"
Queen Elizabeth II Passes Away at 96
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.