Tag Archives: Princess Elizabeth

QUEEN ELIZABETH LONGEST REIGNING MONARCH

Westminster Abbey's bells will peal, a flotilla will sail down the River Thames and a gun salute will ring out on Wednesday as Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-serving monarch in British history.
Westminster Abbey’s bells will peal, a flotilla will sail down the River Thames and a gun salute will ring out on Wednesday as Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-serving monarch in British history.

Today at 5.30pm British Summer Time, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British history, overtaking the record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.

She still has some way to go to pass the longest reigning European monarchs,   Austrian Emperor Franz Josef (1848-1916) and France’s Louis XIV (1643-1715).   However, the latter doesn’t really count as he was only five when he became “king,” meaning that his mother and Cardinal Mazarin ruled in his place.

Thailand’s current king was crowned in May 1950 so he’s been around even longer than the British monarch.

A PBS documentary on the queen aired last week.   The one-hour documentary is available on DVD.   It’s part of the “In their own words” occasional series.   There was one mistake in the program when a BBC broadcast announcing that “the king’s life draws peacefully to a close” was applied to her father, King George VI, who died in 1952.   The recording dates to January 1936 when his father, George V, was dying.   The queen’s father was found dead in bed on February 6th, 1952.   He had been out hunting the previous day. Elizabeth and her husband were in Kenya, on a tour of the empire, when he died.

The monarchy goes back over one thousand years.  It has evolved through the centuries into today’s constitutional monarchy.   The system has worked very well, giving Britain and the other Commonwealth realms (which include Canada, Australia and New Zealand) an unparalleled period of political stability, without which economic progress is difficult to achieve.

The very complimentary documentary highlighted Elizabeth’s role as constitutional monarch, using her influence rather than authority in chaperoning the country for over sixty years.   It’s been a time of unprecedented change, as was Victoria’s in the nineteenth century.

The program began with then Princess Elizabeth’s 21st birthday broadcast from Cape Town, South Africa.   In her own words she pledged herself to serve “the great imperial family to which we all belong,” a reference to the Empire and Commonwealth, which included South Africa.

Immediately after these words were shown on the documentary, a royal expert then added a comment about her lifelong service to Britain.

There’s a blind spot here, which obscures Britain’s incredible decline during her reign.   As she is a constitutional monarch, the blame for this decline rests with the politicians, especially the twelve British prime ministers who have served under her.   Her Canadian, Australian and New Zealand prime ministers can also share some of that responsibility.

The fact is that the British Empire has gone and its successor, the Commonwealth (the “British” was dropped 50 years ago) is no more than a shadow of what it was.   It may not even survive the queen’s passing.   The queen remains Head of State of 16 countries and has 138 million subjects.   She is also titular Head of the Commonwealth, an organization of 54 former colonies.   It remains to be seen if Prince Charles will be able to hold it all together after he succeeds his mother.

Sir John Major, her ninth British prime minister, said in the documentary that throughout all the changes of the last six decades, the queen has been the one “constant” in the country, giving a sense of continuity and stability during monumental and significant changes.   This is true, but it hides some painful realities.

The loss of empire saw a rapid decline in global power.   The country’s military capability is about one-twelfth of what it was at the beginning of her reign – and continues to decline even under a Conservative administration.   The queen’s international role remains at the core of British “soft power,” along with the BBC World Service and British aid.   This soft power has replaced the strong military power it used to have.

With the empire gone, Britain entered the European Common Market (now the European Union), which has progressively taken away the UK’s independence.   Under the EU’s freedom of movement rules, millions of people from other European countries have been able to move to Britain, changing the composition of the nation’s population.

Added to this has been mass immigration from Commonwealth countries like India and Pakistan.

The changes are so significant, it’s fair to say that the Great Britain she inherited in 1952 and the Great Britain of today are two very different countries.   It’s amusing to remember that in 1949, when she was Princess Elizabeth, she spoke out against the evils of divorce.   The nation would not take kindly to such comments today and the queen would not be qualified to speak on the subject anyway as her own family has seen a few divorces.

None of this detracts from the great accomplishments of Elizabeth II.   She has set an incredible example of service.   Her sense of duty is unsurpassed by anybody in any field.   In her own personal private life she has set a fine example, never putting a foot wrong.

In many ways, the world was a better place when the Queen ascended the throne on February 6th, 1952 (the Coronation was in June the following year).   At that time, she presided over the greatest empire in history.   As countries were given independence, all too often they were taken over by self-serving bad leaders who destroyed much of what Britain had accomplished, enriching themselves by stealing from their own people.   They were often from the lowest echelons of society, suddenly receiving absolute power, which they abused in every way.

I remember an incident 35 years ago at a time when Ghana, in West Africa, was going through a long period of political instability and economic chaos, I stopped to buy some food at the side of the road. When I opened my wallet, the lady who was selling me the items, saw a British bank note with the portrait of the queen on it.   The lady sighed and said:   “Ah, Queen Elizabeth.   She used to be our queen.   Now we have so many presidents, we cannot count them all. And we are in such a mess.   And England still has the queen.”   Stability is so important.

Two verses in the Book of Ecclesiastes illustrate this so well:

“Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
And your princes feast in the morning!
Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles,
And your princes feast at the proper time —
For strength and not for drunkenness!”   (Eccl. 10:16-17.)

Britain has been greatly blessed with Elizabeth II as Queen.

As many are saying today:    “Long may she reign!”

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REMEMBRANCE DAY OBSERVANCE

queen_lays_wreath_remembrance_day 2008

Late night arrests at the weekend foiled a terror plot in London, England. Speculation was rife that the plot involved an attack on the Queen and other members of the Royal Family at the Cenotaph on Sunday morning. This did not deter the Queen from carrying out an annual duty, which she has never missed.

This was the occasion of the annual commemoration of Armistice Day, the day that ended World War I. “At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” was exactly when the war ended, having claimed almost a million British lives.   Observance is held on the Sunday closest to the actual day.

The Queen not only leads the nation at this ceremony. She is also leading the Commonwealth, that quarter of mankind that comprised the British Empire and Commonwealth during both wars. Without their contribution, the allies might never have won. Together with Britain, they were the only allied nations that were in both wars from beginning to end.

It’s hard to imagine now but a century ago when the Great War (World War One) began, hundreds of thousands of people around the world volunteered to fight. Many faked their age to qualify.

I read recently that many were motivated by deep religious convictions.   According to this website, a significant number of men in the trenches believed in British Israelism, that the British Empire and the United States were the fulfillment of the promises made to Joseph in Genesis chapter 48:

“15 And he blessed Joseph, and said:  “God, before whom my fathers Abra

ham and Isaac walked, The God who has fed me all my life long to this day,

16 The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads;
Let my name be named upon them,

And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
And let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

17 Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 

18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”

20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will bless, saying, ‘May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!’” And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh.”

The United States is big at 3.9 million square miles but the British Empire was vast at 13.9 million square miles. Many believed it was the prophesied “multitude of nations.” Its formal name was the British Empire and Commonwealth, the latter being the independent countries of the Empire that remained loyal to the Crown. These nations, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, together with the self-governing colony of Southern Rhodesia, all sent troops to help “mother England” when the country was threatened by the Axis powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary.   As Germany had colonies close to South Africa and Australia, these nations also brought about German defeats on a regional level.

The independent nations that formed the Commonwealth were known as Dominions. Canada was the first country to become a dominion in 1867, independent but loyal to the Crown. The word “dominion” was taken directly from Psalm 72:8: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea.” The fact that the term dominion was inspired by scripture shows the founders of Canada were far more biblically aware that most recent leaders, the current prime minister being an exception.

It wasn’t just the dominions that sacrificed for Britain.   In World War II, two million Indians volunteered to fight for Britain, the biggest volunteer army in history.

Even India’s sacrifice was not as great as that of Southern Rhodesia, proportionate to population.   Sir Winston Churchill lauded the central African nation’s loyalty by describing it as “the most loyal colony.” Sadly, twenty years later, one of his successors was to betray the country, which now no longer exists.

Other colonies also contributed. The Gold Coast, now Ghana, raised up the Royal West African Frontier Force, which saw action in Burma and Ethiopia.   Nigeria also sent troops to Burma. It was felt that Africans could handle the heat a lot better than the British in the steaming hot jungles of Burma and Malaya.   Indian troops comprised the majority of soldiers fighting against the Japanese in this particular theater of war. Many sacrificed their lives for King and Country.

The Queen appreciates the sacrifice of all these nations more than most, as she lived through World War II and knows how easily Britain could have been defeated. Memories of the bombing of Buckingham Palace will still be with her. She will also remember that the wartime leader, Winston Churchill, had lunch with her father, King George VI, every week, keeping the king abreast of all developments in the war. It is said that Churchill would give the young Princess and future Queen informal history lessons. Churchill was later to write his monumental “History of the English speaking peoples,” a book that thankfully was written before political correctness and revisionist history.

At the Cenotaph, the war memorial in the center of London, the Queen remembers, at 88, far better than most of her subjects, the sacrifices made and the struggles that still continue. Her grandson, Prince Harry, missed the service in London, choosing instead to commemorate the day with British troops in Afghanistan, where he served three years ago.

The Commonwealth will likely survive the Queen’s passing. Prince Charles, who will take over as king upon the death of his mother, is getting more involved with the organization while his son, Prince William, together with his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, are immensely popular, especially in the Commonwealth Realms, those member countries that retain the Queen as Head of State.

The organization may survive but it will never again be in unison in fighting a global conflict. It is no longer a military force and its members now have conflicting loyalties that preclude action on a universal scale. And, with the Queen’s passing, remembrance of two world wars will further diminish.