Queen Elizabeth II: Reflections on Longevity

Sep 15, 2022 | Article

I was 11 when Elizabeth II became Queen of the United Kingdom. I remember watching the Coronation and realizing that she was young and inexperienced. Did I understand what that meant? No, but I did realize that she needed to grow into her responsibility and that I needed to grow up.

Now, 70 years later, at the age of 96, Queen Elizabeth II passed. What do we learn from her life and experiences? First, we affirm that longevity is real. It is not only the length of her reign but the duration of her life. It prompts us to think about the lifetime planning horizon for each of us. It is in God’s hands what it will be; however, it is up to us to use our experience and God-given strengths to plan for the future and live out the plan. I know by personal experience how He can change the direction of our lives in a proverbial heartbeat. However, following His promptings and experiencing both the opening and closing doors of opportunity are critical parts of our life journey. I’m sure they were for Elizabeth too.

Queen Elizabeth II seems to have had certain principles and values guiding her decisions over the years. One was to avoid politics and focus on leadership. As the leader of a Constitutional Monarchy, her interpretation seems to have been guided by the needs of the country and the challenges facing those living in it.

We are acutely aware of the royal issues over the years. I won’t list them here, yet her navigation skills through those times were extraordinary upon reflection. We can be prompted to imitate those navigational skills and pay attention to God’s direction in our lives. Think of all the family issues facing most of us. Are we handling them in a God-honoring way and with the skills and attention to detail evidenced in the Queen’s life?

The reality of longevity and demonstration of leadership skills are two takeaways for me from the life of Queen Elizabeth II. Another takeaway is her commitment to her marriage. There were many opportunities for the relationship with Prince Philip to deteriorate. Yet, to their credit, the relationship flourished until his death at 99 in 2021. The very fact they worked out their issues is an encouragement to all marrieds, particularly in this time where even 80-year-olds are getting divorced. No marriage is perfect. Each marriage is impacted by our decisions about activities, events, and relationships. We don’t know how they worked things out over such a long period. My 60 years of marriage certainly have taught me a lot.

I was listening to a reporter last night talking about The Queen. She commented on her quiet graciousness. From a distance, that seems to be true. She went out of her way to greet people, whether royalty, political luminaries, or ordinary people standing in line to see her. She greeted them all. We all have more to learn about patience, kindness, and gentleness, let alone self-control. It is so encouraging when we see these traits exemplified in the lives of those we may know or admire at a distance. All we need to do is to follow the example. This is so much easier said than done.

I’m reflecting here on the life exemplified by Britain’s now past Queen. She became an army mechanic during her military service. She traveled to 100 countries connecting with those in the Commonwealth thousands of miles away. She and Prince Philip raised four children, and now one of them is King Charles III.

We do not know much about her faith and its role in her life decisions. She indeed stayed connected to the Church of England, as would be expected. As Christ followers, we can connect directly with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As we live longer, it is critical that we stay open to God’s leading in our lives and transparently follow his directions. We have access to the fruits of the Spirit, allowing us to reflect the world on what Jesus teaches, models, and prompts us to do.

I believe there are lessons and encouragement to be absorbed, recognizing the unusual gifting and the longevity of commitment by Elizabeth II. Will any of us be Queen or King of the UK? Certainly not! But we are friends with the King of Kings according to Jesus’ teaching. We are privileged to grow in knowledge and wisdom, then apply those to our life journey. Realizing that our life journey may be as long as Elizabeth II’s, gives us pause. It also gives us time to practice what our true King preached.