Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away peacefully at the age of 96 on Thursday, September 8, 2022. The longest serving monarch, she was dedicated to the British people and those of the Commonwealth. The great granddaughter of Queen Victoria, she reigned for 70 years (1952-2022), seven years longer than her ancestor (1837-1901).
When her relative Queen Victoria became Queen at the age of 18, Newman described what the Provost of Oriel had said about her: “she is short and little, but was perfectly composed and dignified – and read her speech with a distinctness, emphasis and propriety which marks her as a person of ‘very good sense.’
Elizabeth became Queen at age of 26, serving her people with elegance and kindness. She was a woman of faith and piety who spoke to people about belief in God and encouraged them to the practice of religion during her Christmas addresses. During her lifetime the Queen did her part to foster understanding and unity among men, especially Christians.
In her 2014 Christmas Address, Queen Elizabeth said: “For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.”
Upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II, her son Charles has become King Charles III. Only a few years earlier as Prince of Wales he attended the canonization of St. John Henry Newman at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
In a column of L’Osservatore Romano he wrote: “Whatever our own beliefs, and no matter what our own tradition may be, we can only be grateful to Newman for the gifts, rooted in his Catholic faith, which he shared with wider society: his intense and moving spiritual autobiography and his deeply-felt poetry.”
The then Prince continued: “In the age when he lived, Newman stood for the life of the spirit against the forces that would debase human dignity and human destiny. In the age in which he attains sainthood, his example is needed more than ever – for the manner in which, at his best, he could advocate without accusation, could disagree without disrespect and, perhaps most of all, could see differences as places of encounter rather than exclusion.”
The Prince concluded, noting Newman’s capacity for friendship: “As we mark the life of this great Briton, this great churchman and, as we can now say, this great saint, who bridges the divisions between traditions, it is surely right that we give thanks for the friendship which, despite the parting, has not merely endured, but has strengthened.”
“In the image of divine harmony which Newman expressed so eloquently, we can see how, ultimately, as we follow with sincerity and courage the different paths to which conscience calls us, all our divisions can lead to a greater understanding and all our ways can find a common home.”
Like her son, Queen Elizabeth was respectful of the Catholic Church and met five popes during her lifetime, four of them during her reign. Bishop Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth said: “In her official role as ‘Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England’, the Queen, through her words and actions, always showed herself to be a woman of a deep Christian faith. Throughout her reign Queen Elizabeth II also ensured a relationship of mutual respect between the Church of England and the Catholic Church.”
St. John Henry Newman, who was a loyal subject to the British crown, would also mourn today the death of a queen like Elizabeth II, and he would continue to foster the peaceful understanding and respect among Christians and among all persons of goodwill.