From a sovereign about The Sovereign
If there was ever a 'Christmas message' by the present Queen Elizabeth II that spoke of her personal faith then the most recent must rank very high. But what of the future..??
The UK sovereign in the Coronation Oath promises to discharge his or her duties to the nation and its people under God. The following extracts are taken from the Coronation ceremony and the Queen's Christmas message of 2011 respectively
on 2 June, 1953 was as follows:
Archbishop of Canterbury:
Just moments after she was crowned Queen Elizabeth II spoke these words:
"Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?"
"All this I promise to do."
Then the Queen arising out of her Chair, supported as before, the Sword of State being carried before her, shall go to the Altar, and make her solemn Oath in the sight of all the people to observe the premisses: laying her right hand upon the Holy Gospel in the great Bible (which was before carried in the procession and is now brought from the Altar by the Arch-bishop, and tendered to her as she kneels upon the steps), and saying these words:
The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God.
Then the Queen shall kiss the Book and sign the Oath.
The Queen having thus taken her Oath shall return again to her Chair, and the Bible shall be delivered to the Dean of Westminster.
"Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust."
Extract from the Queen's Christmas message, 2011
"Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: 'Fear not', they urged, 'we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
'For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.'
Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves - from our recklessness or our greed.
God sent into the world a unique person - neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.
Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God's love.
In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there's a prayer:
'O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin
And enter in.
Be born in us today.'
It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas."
The British monarch carries the epithet 'Defender of the Faith'. Ironically it was a title first bestowed on King Henry VIII by the then Pope, and in respect of monarch's duty to support the Roman Catholic Church. However the title travelled with King Henry when he adopted the Protestant faith.
Of course in terms of biblical Christianity the title is meaningless unless the monarch, at any one time, has a personal faith in God through Jesus Christ.
In this context the Queen's message should give great encouragement.
However the Queen will not live for ever, and it is likely that the transition to her successor will not be without trauma. Prince Charles (the first in line to the throne) has already stated that he would like to be known as 'Defender of Faith' . This would open up the whole spiritual arena. Additionally there are several significant pressures at work which would aim to remove the present constitutional arrangements of nation, under Parliament, under sovereign, under God.
In no particular order, there is a very powerfully republican (anti-royal) sentiment running which is kept in check mainly by the very high public regard for the present Queen.
Then there is the Roman Catholic Church, with substantial political support, which would want to rescind the Act of Settlement which currently requires the monarch (and spouse) to be of and preserve the Reformed Protestant faith. (And of course from a humanistic point of view it seems unfair that the monarch needs to be so constrained in terms of personal faith and whom he or she should marry).
Added to this are the nationalist ambitions of the Scottish National Party which inevitably impact on the present constitutional arrangements.
Meanwhile, while Queen Elizabeth is the Supreme Head of the Church of England, the Scottish reformers distanced the monarch from any 'headship' role relating the church - proclaiming Christ Jesus as the only one to hold that position.
Putting all these things together, whenever the present Queen dies or abdicates in favour of her successor there is likely to be tremendous upheaval across the United Kingdom.
"And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, And knowledge to men of understanding.
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.