Connecting with Culture
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Indeed, Olivia Colman’s poignant portrayal of the Queen’s fortitude, self-control, clarity, and astuteness reminds us that these are qualities she surely still needs. However, for all The Crown’s strengths, it fails, like most biographies of the Queen, to understand how her deep sense of divine calling and her living faith in Christ have shaped how she does everything – from the way she engages with staff to the content of her Christmas broadcasts.
Of course, showing the Queen at prayer, or pulling her Land Rover to a screeching halt outside the Sandringham church don’t obviously compete with the riveting storylines of her eventful life. Nevertheless, trying to understand the Queen without understanding her Christian faith is like trying to understand a Ferrari without looking at the engine.
I vividly remember the moment this hit me. I was trying to think of some public figure who lived out the six Ms of fruitfulness – modelling godly character, making good work, ministering grace and love, moulding culture, being a mouthpiece for truth and justice, and being a messenger of the gospel. The Queen came to mind with a clarity and weight, as if from above: the most famous, most photographed woman in the world is a fantastic exemplar of Christlike engagement in public life. And that was the beginning of a series of providential events that led to the distribution of a million copies of The Servant Queen and the King She Serves (still available).
The more research we did, the more examples we discovered. Small things like inviting a Church of Scotland minister to Balmoral every weekend of her summer break. Big things like bringing former exploited colonies into a circle of purposeful friendship in the Commonwealth. Or her Christmas broadcasts: gently summoning her people to neighbour love, and unselfconsciously witnessing to Christ’s centrality in her life.
Season 3 of The Crown will no doubt bring us much insight into the Queen’s response to national, monarchical, and familial challenges. But after two seasons and the two Season 3 episodes I’ve somehow managed to limit myself to this week, it has given us no glimpse of the resources in Christ which have enabled her to be God’s woman for all seasons – through crises even greater than this week’s.
And that’s a story to celebrate. And tell.
Mark is the Executive Director of LICC. To read a longer reflection Mark has written on the Queen’s faith, click here.