DURING her first Christmas broadcast in 1952 the then Princess Elizabeth asked of her listeners: “Pray for me…that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.”

Eighteen months later, Queen Elizabeth was crowned at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953, in our most recent coronation service.

Since that time, the Queen has often spoken of and reflected upon her faith and the role that it plays in her life.

In her Christmas Day broadcast in 2000, she remarked: “For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life.”

She repeated this sentiment more succinctly in December 2014 when she described her faith simply “the anchor in my life”.

It is not only her own faith but the faiths of her people which the Queen has spoken of during her reign. During the celebrations for her Golden Jubilee in 2012, she addressed faith leaders at Lambeth Palace where she spoke of how religion provide critical guidance for the way we live our lives, and for the way in which we treat each other. She noted how many of the values and ideas we take for granted originate in the ancient wisdom of religious tradition. Even the concept of a “jubilee” is rooted in the Bible.

In that Lambeth speech, the Queen also spoke of the importance of faith in creating and sustaining communities all over country, saying: “Faith plays a key role in the identity of many millions of people, providing not only a system of belief but also a sense of belonging. It can act as a spur for social action. Indeed, religious groups have a proud track record of helping those in the greatest need, including the sick, the elderly, the lonely and the disadvantaged. They remind us of the responsibilities we have beyond ourselves.”

Those comments built upon the central theme of service, and of duty, which has been the golden thread and hallmark of the Queen’s reign.

As she said in 2008: “I hope that, like me, you will be comforted by the example of Jesus of Nazareth who, often in circumstances of great adversity, managed to live an outgoing, unselfish and sacrificial life…

“He makes it clear that genuine human happiness and satisfaction lie more in giving than receiving; more in serving than in being served.”

Today was only the third time in her reign that the Queen has been absent from the state opening of Parliament. Given Her Majesty’s deep sense of duty, the mobility issues which prevented her attendance must extend beyond mere inconvenience.

So if you do pray, pray one for our Queen today. Give thanks for her example, rejoice in her service and pray, as she asked 70 years ago, that she may have the strength and wisdom to long reign over us.

God Save the Queen.

  • The Reverend Arun Arora is the vicar of St Nicholas' Church in Durham Market Place