The End of an Era: Queen Elizabeth II Has Died, Charles Becomes King

The End of an Era: Queen Elizabeth II Has Died, Charles Becomes King September 8, 2022

I heard the news of the death of the longest reigning monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth II, as I had been thinking about my upcoming trip to England, and reminiscing on the many years I spent their previously as a student. During my undergraduate days I was in close connection with conservative Evangelicals (although the vast majority of British conservative Evangelicals, with some exceptions to be sure, are nowhere near as extreme as their counterparts in the United States). As Prince Charles, who now has now become the King, talked about his vision for his relationship to the church and religion when this day would eventually come, suggested that he might be the “defender of faith” rather than the defender of the faith, as the role of the monarch as head of the church has historically been understood. Some conservative British Christians scoffed at the notion. I leapt to his defense, coming from the background of the United States’ historic separation of church and state, and having settled in the Baptist tradition which has historically been one of the chief religious proponents of this separation. The monarch as defender of all subjects of the crown, of all faiths and none, seems an absolutely appropriate way of reenvisioning the role in an era of religious freedom and pluralism. I was so impressed watching Charles interact with people from the Muslim world and talk with them about authors and aspects of culture. One such person, I think it was a Saudi prince, blurted out “Wow, you know everything.” For a monarch to pursue broad education simply to be able to relate to people is a beautiful way for them to use their time. It is also a testament to his parents. (My wife and I probably also took a liking to Charles because of his love for Romania, my wife being Romanian.)

For many Americans, the British monarchy is a mystery, perhaps slightly less so (if not due to an entirely accurate portrayal of events) due to the television series The Crown. I have already seen comments on Facebook that show that many of my fellow Americans don’t really appreciate what this event means. The death of a president would be a shock, to be sure, but that is not the same thing as the death of an individual who has led a country for 70 years.

As I look forward to spending a few months in England in the very near future, I offer my sincere condolences to the members of the royal family and to all those whose Queen Elizabeth was, wherever they happen to be in the world. I lived in the UK long enough to know what a major event this is, and how beloved the Queen was. That is all the more so when so few in Britain have experienced the death of a monarch. Elizabeth II reigned for longer than any other ruler in the history of the United Kingdom. May God be with you through this transition, comfort you in your sorrow, and give Charles as King and the leaders of the Church of England wisdom as they navigate what comes next.


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