The Queen’s Speech: An Oldie but Goodie

Last year The King’s Speech, a movie about England’s King George VI, garnered most of the Academy Awards and deservedly so. It was a magnificent picture filled with superb performances and wonderful dialogue. But there was something more profound at work, what we could call an unapologetic Christian subtext which I believe was responsible for its popularity at the box office. In this sense, it was somewhat similar to Mel Gibson’s epic The Passion of the Christ, although much more understated of course. Movies like this only happen once in a while and when they do resonate, they do so by breaking the spell of secularism if only for a season.

I believe that the spell was broken again, with considerable force. Just before Christmas, King George VI’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, gave her annual Christmas message to the British Commonwealth, a gathering of peoples that spans the globe even to this day. The speech was unapologetically Christian (see video below). It’s not often we hear leaders defend the faith with such clarity –certainly not in the secular sphere and even in the religous sphere the reticence among many is most regretable.

Some background. I recently visited Great Britain (my second trip in fifteen years) and came back more aware of England’s Christian heritage. In planning for our trip, I visited the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain’s website and noted key differences between it and the ethnic jurisdictions here in America. Although Thyateira still remains largely ethnocentric, it’s website reveals a deeper appreciation for British history and culture than in ways that make the American jurisdictions seem woefully out of touch, even ignorant, of their responsibilities to the larger American culture.

I was particularly moved by the icons of the dozens of British saints which were written in the finest Orthodox style. Seeing no equivalent engagement on this end of the pond now strikes me as a deficit of the first order, a malady of vision the pathology of which must run very deep.

I don’t expect the wisdom that accrued from centuries of experience to spontaneously generate on American soil. Britain has long been a Christian land and has a history of many God-pleasing saints while our Republic is less than three centuries old and our native Christian culture dates only to Jamestown, about a century before the founding of our Republic. Nevertheless, the British monarchy is intricately tied to the people and the land, and yes, that means the Church, or better yet — Christendom.

Maybe some of my thoughts reflected a nostalgia for the Victorian Age when Christian civilization was probably at its apogee. But then again, maybe not. Please watch the speech below by Her Majesty. It stands in stark contrast to what we hear in the States. To be sure, something like this speech could have been given by an American President thirty or so years ago but not now. The shock troops of secularism would have him clapped in irons in no time at all.

Don’t get me wrong. The intelligentsia of Great Britain is just as secular as ours. Further, England’s native, white (un)working class has devolved into a largely pagan mob, as seen during last August’s nationwide riots. It’s on a downward trajectory as well. Most newborns no longer receive baptism and in some cities Mohammed is the most popular name for boys ahead of Jack and Harry. Those facts must be acknowledged but in noting them, the Queen’s Christian sensibility is even more striking. Given the rampant secularism and emerging Islamism, you’d think the Queen’s advisors would be advising ‘moderation’ and providing focus-group tested bromides. If they were, she severely dissapointed them.

There’s more. In mid-December last year, the Royal Family appointed a new chaplain who is a staunch conservative and openly critical of the ordination of bishopesses. Their move throws sand into the gears of the Anglican hierarchy, which is set to vote on this innovation in the next few months. In doing so, the Royal Family made a bold move and opened another front in the war for the restoration of Christian culture.

Surprisingly, there has been no blowback by the intellectual establishment. I believe that they are at the end of their intellectual rope –“there’s no ‘there’ there” as some wit said about Oakland years ago. Maybe secularism has played out its torpid hand. Its moral and spiritual vapidity combined with the intellectual bankruptcy of materialism are coming into sharper focus. People are realizing that non-theism (really, anti-Christianity) cannot encourage the individual, much less sustain the culture. As I get older, I see that.

A couple of months ago my family were reminiscing about my late father-in-law and his life and times. He was the youngest of eight children, one sister died in adolescence and one brother was killed in battle. The other six got jobs, married, and had children. They carried their own weight in the world. This was normal and they expected nothing more. Church was an integral part of their lives. Yes, they were Greek and as such belonged to a more traditional, tight-knit culture that had not yet frayed but it wasn’t any different for anybody else in their generation.

Furthermore, a generalized Protestant Christian piety pervaded the times in which they lived, one which informed all Americans regardless of their ethnic background. There were certain expectations that people felt were required of them, a code of simple human decency and respect for others that ameliorated the hardships they faced and the responsibilities they took on. They were not confused about right and wrong. Contrast this with the chaos that reigns today. STD’s are maiming our children. Men cannot decide whether to grow up and get married. Women are wondering if men are even necessary. Should parents stay together for the sake of the children or should the family be split? And what about Grandpa? Off to the nursing home.

The Greatest Generation were of a stronger stock than we are and the Queen has a living memory of that more certain time. She is in fact part of that generation. She endured some of the hardships regular people did in Britain during the War and dealt with them in the way her generation did. While newlywed, she lived the life of a sailor’s wife on the island of Malta in the immediate post-War period. Her marriage had strains. her husband, Prince Philip was known to be a difficult and domineering man. For his part Philip had to endure countless slights by her courtiers because of his foreign birth. He even had to cut short a promising career in the Royal Navy upon the death of his father-in-law. But you never saw these strains. And their reticence was more than the traditional British stiff-upper-lip. They knew that sacrifices had to be made and that Duty, Honor, and Country came before personal satisfaction.

The Queen’s speech will not take us back to a more Christian time. But I believe that it will help break the delusion that secularism can nourish the soul and culture. The way I see it, the fact that the speech passed without condemnation means people may be thinking more about the Gospel. After all, her speech was very kerygmatic. This is a point we need to keep in mind.

Further, I think too that some of the people who may come forward to “earnestly contend for the Faith” will surprise many of us in the end. We’ve seen this even in our own Church when a ferocious assault against traditional morality was launched by a coterie of intellectuals who had effectively run the Church as their own personal club. They were able to do so because of the lassitude of the episcopate. Nevertheless, people who never spoke out before were heard standing up in rousing defense of the moral tradition. Their voices gave our Bishops increasing courage to walk in the grace that God has given them. That’s why we saw a resolution defending the Coptic Orthodox in Egypt. That’s also why we can be assured that they will again defend the sanctity of life next January. Later this year, the OCA will celebrate the first-ever Sanctity of Marriage Sunday. These are all afronts to the spirit of the age which eschews quaint concepts such as right and wrong.

Axios to Queen Elizabeth. Axios to the OCA Bishops who stand for truth. Axios to the people who are not afraid to defend the truth despite the criticism of cultured despisers sometimes even within our own Church.

Will the restoration continue? It just might. Anyway, we found out we had an important ally accross the Pond.

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  1. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    Which reminds me that I need to finish reading the Kindle version of Queen’s Speech 2011. For the record, you can also get the previous speeches from 1952 – 2010. Both are free. Here’s the link to the 2011 speech:

  2. Robert Badger says

    Queen Elizabeth II is a great lady and I wish her many more happy and blessed years. In some ways, she is a reminder of a better, more civilised age. Axios indeed! God save the Queen!

  3. Jim of Olym says

    Just so you know, Elizabeth II is the daughter of George VI, not IV!

    but I hope it was just a multiple typo!

  4. God save our gracious Queen…long may she reign over us, God save the Queen!

  5. A noble lady, and a shining example in today’s upside down world. I do hope her Christmas message 2011 will keep going and going. Let’s all pass it around. Thank you, and yes, God Save the Queen!

  6. Tim R. Mortiss says

    I’m chronologically confused. But I did see Darkest Hour last night, and King George IV has a significant role.

  7. George Michalopulos says

    Here’s a little Xmas treat for everyone:

    I love this rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy” so much. A close second to Bob Seger’s version in my opinion.

    So here’s that one. You decide.

    • George

      I gotta say I will pass. No offense to a Christmas favorite of yours. After all, this song is loved by millions, including my mom and one of my sisters.

      I, however, cannot enjoy it – partially because I find the whole premise completely implausable – no matter how well meaning

      I know there is a message within the song, but when is it ever appropriate to beat a drum in front of a newborn? Who does that?

      “Frederick, my precious newborn son, I know you and your mother are trying to sleep after a hard labor – but here to celebrate your birth are all the members of John F. Kennedy High School marching band! Hit it!!” [A destroyed version of a John Philip Sousa song follows]

      Plus, what is the fictional story appendage for “Black Nativity?” The DJ plays a little Soulja Boy?

      Or maybe

      “I bust a cap fo’ you, a ratta tat tat . . . Me an’ my gat . . . “

      • George Michalopulos says

        LOL! Good point! Banging a drum not good in front of a newborn. Still, I love the lyric and melody. Very triumphant.

        • George

          Okay, but let me bring up another point:

          The little drummer boy plays the drums for baby Jesus because he “has no gift to bring” Him, right?

          How about a sweet drum?

          Couldn’t have the little drummer boy just given Jesus his drum (that is most likely the drummer boy’s most prized, maybe only possession?)

          Truly this should have been what happened for at least 4 reasons:

          1. The boy sacrificially gives to Jesus his best, and therefore also demonstrates worship, acknowledgment and thankfulness. Isn’t this a better lesson than assuming a newborn wants to hear your talent? Hey, when I’m trying to sleep, its not time to bust out the Karaoke machine – and I am by no means the Son of God!!!!

          2. The drum as a gift would have been a well suited instrument of worship lying silently dormant, as well as not torturing a newborn infant

          3. In His humanity, Jesus in His youth, could have learned to play the drums with that very drum. It could have even been a useful gift! Some argue that learning an instrument while you are young is helpful. I don’t see why Jesus couldn’t have learned to play the drums? Who knows? Maybe He did?

          4. What song do we go with? Is this also confusing to our kids? “Siiilent niight, Ho-oly niii BAM BAM BADA BAM BAM – rumpa bum bum . . .

          I’m just saying, I don’t see how the song can be taken at face value. I just don’t get it

  8. William Tighe says

    “In mid-December last year, the Royal Family appointed a new chaplain who is a staunch conservative and openly critical of the ordination of bishopesses. Their move throws sand into the gears of the Anglican hierarchy, which is set to vote on this innovation in the next few months. In doing so, the Royal Family made a bold move and opened another front in the war for the restoration of Christian culture.”

    The link is to an article published in December 2011; in other words, the “news” is six years old. “The innovation” was defeated in November 2012 by the Church of England’s General Synod, but forced through (with only cosmetic changes) in July 2014. Currently (December 2017) there are two female diocesan “bishops” in the Church of England, and six “suffragan bishops” (a suffragan bishop is a bishop-without-a-diocese who assists a diocesan bishop); one of these six suffragans has just been appointed bishop of London, so there will be three diocesan “flaminicae” (as I term them) next year. The Anglican Church of Wales has two female diocesan “bishops,” the Scottish Episcopal Church one, and the (Anglican) Church of Ireland one. These last three Anglican churches are not state-established churches like the Church of England.

    For more information, see this:

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mr Tighe, this essay was written back in 2011. I merely reprinted it because a) I liked the Queen’s very evangelistic message and b) because I liked what I wrote back then about Christian culture as I remembered it.

      Having said that, it appears that the YouTube has been taken down.

      • William Tighe says

        I am sorry (and embarrassed) not to have noted that. In slight extenuation of my oversight I might note that I had just read an article about her Christmas address this year, which also was very good in the same way as that of 2011 (and subsequent years).

  9. Regarding Oakland, Calif., I believe the “wit” you’re referring to was Gertrude Stein.

  10. Since Queen Elizabeth ii is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, why should she limit her disapproval of women’s ordination to the symbolic appointment of a conservative personal chaplain? Couldn’t she just imitate Henry viii and whip her bishops into line and do away with recalcitrant modernists who disagree with her?

  11. How is it that within our ears
    The cries of God we hear?
    Creator born of Virgin
    To Mary’s breast draws near
    In hands of men the Lord of Heav’n
    Whom angels serve and fear!

    Glory to God in the highest!

  12. ChristineFevronia says

    “The Crown” on Netflix is one of the best shows ever made. I just finished season two, and strongly feel that each episode is worthy of highest praise. Of note, Queen Elizabeth’s personal faith is explored in season two. I have found the show to have affected me very deeply. Hope Monomakhos readers take the time to watch it.

    • George Michalopulos says

      CF, it is wonderful, isn’t it? I especially liked the respectful presentation of Rev Billy Graham and the enlightening discourse he had with the Queen in the matter of forgiveness. As a Greek monarchist, I also liked the whole origin angle of Prince Philip.

      The only thing I miss about Season Two is John Lithgow’s performance as Churchill. He got the man right, playing it up for all its worth. A true hambone.

  13. Gus Viviades says

    We are fools in buying into the Fatimist Carroll Quigley’s conspiracy theories about the British, Mason’s and Jews. Bill Clinton was classmates with Paul Manafort in Quigley’s class and Quigley’s other protege was Lyndon Larouche. Instead we need to make the Anglosphere Orthodox, as the Greeks were the originators of gloablisation and the Anglosphere and Prince Phillip is Greek. See these:

    • Constaninos says

      Dear Gus,
      Absolutely fascinating post by you. I want to do some research of my own. They never should have overthrown the Greek monarchy.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Someday soon, I intend to write a blistering essay on what a hell-hole Greece has become ever since the overthrow of the monarchy. It’s astonishing and beyond sad at the same time.

        • ChristineFevronia says

          Dear George, I hope you do write that essay. It’s a fascinating topic, one which very few of us know anything about. As an American through and through, I have a complicated view of monarchal rule. Deep down, I yearn for it, but on most levels I reject it. It’s difficult to explain. So anything you can toss our way about this topic pertaining to Greece would be most welcome. Happy New Year, friend!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Gus, thank you for posting these links. Because both George I and his wife, Queen Olga had Byzantine ancestry through at least three different lines of descent, I can’t help but think it’s providential that the Guarantor-powers of the Greek state (England, France, Russia) decided to instate the Glucksburgs as monarchs. It’s possible of course that they knew of the dynastic connections. Regardless, it’s akin to the enthronement of Strider to the throne of Gondor, which had been in abeyance for several hundred years.

  14. The exultation of authentic Christian principle cannot hurt or hinder her people who do Love God and serve Him alone, and live by the Word of God and not by bread alone, and do not tempt God by sinning against the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, it is doers of the Word, not just hearers alone, who genuinely please the Holy Trinity. The history of the British Monarchy is crammed full of grievous errors. The governments of all Christian heritage have followed the same pattern. Mark Twain summed it up, demonstrating his genius as a writer. The US government was founded on genuine Christian principles. And our government has always had the wisdom and the prudence to always ignore it. Sums up what the Queen was doing rather neatly.,

  15. Prince Phillip returned to the Church of Greece when the decision was made to ordain women in the CofE

    And I have no use for queens other than as an accessory to a king; however, Queen Elizabeth is generally charming. Don’t look for hope in the UK, though. They are thoroughly secularized and increasingly Muslim.

    Unless there is a revival, Europe will be lost. It’s that stark. That is why I egg on the far Right parties. They are leaven in the dough, edgy though they be. One side will dwindle into milksops and the other will go authoritarian.

    What other reaction to Muslim immigration and lack of assimilation? Lay down or fight.

  16. William Tighe says

    Monk James wrote:

    “Since Queen Elizabeth ii is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, why should she limit her disapproval of women’s ordination to the symbolic appointment of a conservative personal chaplain? Couldn’t she just imitate Henry viii and whip her bishops into line and do away with recalcitrant modernists who disagree with her?”

    No English monarch has taken any “independent” initiative, in political or ecclesiastical matters (if one can easily distinguish, in an “established church” context, between the political and the ecclesiastical) since the 1830s, when in 1834 William IV dismissed his Whig cabinet and replaced it with a Tory one, only to have the Whigs win the ensuing elections. William’s successor, Queen Victoria, exercised a lot of influence behind the scenes over ecclesiastical appointments – down to ca. 1977 English Anglican bishops were effectively appointed by “the Crown” (effectively the Prime Minister and the Monarch) – on occasion even privately vetoing her Prime Minister’s choices for bishoprics, but later monarchs showed less interest, and ca. 1977 the choice of bishops was effectively vested in a committee of clergy and laity, the nominees of which (although in theory leaving the Prime Minister and the Monarch with a list of two names from which to choose one) have effectively been “rubber stamped” (except, supposedly, when Margaret Thatcher in 1990 chose to forward “name #2,” George Carey [then Bishop of Bath & Wells], over “name #1,” John Hapgood [then Archbishop of York] to the Queen as her nominee of choice to be Archbishop of Canterbury) by both of them. In 2007 the then PM, Gordon Brown, a Scottish Presbyterian by origin, agreed that in the future the PM would simply accept the first-listed nominee for any vacant bishopric. For more details, see:

    So the Queen has, practically and effectively, no authority in such matters.

    • Henry viii, who started the whole fictive CofE thing, did indeed determine who could be a bishop in that organization, despite William Tighe’s assertion that ‘ ‘No English monarch has taken any “independent” initiative, in political or ecclesiastical matters….’

      My wonderment had do with why Queen Elizabeth ii could/would not follow his example in rejecting bishops she did not favor, since there clearly was substantial royal precedent for just such a motion, although I doubt that QEii would resort to imprisonment, torture, and execution of clerics who disagreed with her.

      • Estonian Szlovak says

        I would love to see Prince Charles, when he becomes king, embrace his father’s Orthodoxy. He could pull a reverse Henry VIII and say,”Look, you can keep your Anglicanism, but I won’t follow it, and I’m abolishing it as the state church. Let there be no state church after the example of the colonials across the pond.”

      • William Tighe says

        Long before Henry VIII’s time, an English monarch would send a write, the conge d’elire to a cathedral chapter to authorize the members of the chapter to elect a bishop for the diocese “freely,” often accompanying that write with a letter “recommending” a particular cleric for election. I do not think that there ever was a case after the 14th century when the chapter did not elect the person recommended by the king. Then the name of the electus would be forwarded to Rome for the pope’s approval, which it almost always (after the 14th century) received. When Henry VIII repudiated the papacy, names no longer went to Rome for papal approval, and legal penalties were enacted for members of cathedral chapters if they refused “freely” to elect the person nominated by the monarch; IIRC, no English cathedral chapter has ever refused “freely to elect” a royal nominee. In 1547, right at the beginning of Edward VI’s reign, this farcical process of “freely electing” bishops was abolished, and thereafter English bishops were simply appointed by the Crown by letters patent under the Great Seal. When Queen Mary ended the schism between England and Rome, the process of selecting bishops reverted to what it had been before her father’s break with Rome; when Elizabeth I renewed the schism, the process went back to what it has been in the latter part of Henry VIII’s reign, which it has remained ever since. In Ireland, however, from 1560 onwards until the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1869 Anglican bishops there were appointed by royal letters patent.

        And, in any case, my comment above begins “No English monarch has taken any ‘independent’ initiative, in political or ecclesiastical matters (if one can easily distinguish, in an ‘established church’ context, between the political and the ecclesiastical) since the 1830s …” of which Monk James appears to have overlooked the last three words.

  17. M. Stankovich says

    Vladyka Abp. Benjamin of San Francisco nd I watched a BBC film the other night based on the memoirs of a Muslim “servant” Indian prison clerk who was selected, apparently because of his height, to present a commemorative coin to Queen Victoria in the final years of her life. She was apparently quite depressed, maudeline, and sincerely still mourning her beloved husband, while despising the courtiers eagerly awaiting her passing to “step up,” most notably her son Edward. Then comes along Abdul, handsome, charming, something of a poet/philosopher/linguist/historian and dutiful subject/son rolled into one. It appeared the royals despised him every bit as much for the attention Victoria paid to him as he did draw her out of her depression & seeming apparent impending demise. I will not spoil the conclusion, but it is well-worth the Net-Flix/Amazon/iTunes $ to view for it’s charming story and lack of the seemingly unavoidable “innuendo” of nearly every film produced there days. Really excellent & hierach certified. Noto bene: it is not a “religious” film so don’ t get bent at the references to the “Church of England” & the Muslim faith – as the opening points out, the the film is based on “mostly” true facts!

    • M. Stankovich says

      Pardon me for not including the somewhat obvious film title, “Victoria and Abdul,” which stars Judi Dench as Queen Victoria.

  18. M. Stankovich says

    Pardon me for not including the somewhat obvious film title, “Victoria and Abdul,” which stars Judi Dench as Queen Victoria.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      Judi Dench is great. She did a spectacular Titania to Ian Richardson’s Oberon many decades ago, and much good work since.