The nation has offered its congratulations to the Queen as she celebrates her 90th birthday. Staunch republican and labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was glad to add his good wishes, while not being drawn on his views on the monarchy.
For the Church of England the relationship with the Queen is twofold as both head of state and supreme governor of the Church. In Elizabeth II we have a sovereign whose own personal faith in God and commitment to following the way of Christ has been, by her own admission, a guide and inspiration throughout her life. Consequently her strong sense of duty and service is not only a response to her role as head of state, but a recognition that she is called to serve God as well as the nation and Commonwealth.
The Queen therefore provides a very particular understanding of responsibility. At one level, as critics of the monarchy will highlight, she has not had to earn her position. It is an accident of birth and history. The basis of her authority is royal succession not popular mandate.
Yet the Queen is also aware, not least through the times of crisis in her reign, that while her responsibilities are inherited, loyalty, affection and trust have to be won and cannot be assumed.
The Queen therefore carries three inter-locking responsibilities – to the nation, to God, and to the institution of the monarchy itself. The hidden strength of the Queen’s life is that she has woven together this trinity of responsibilities at the heart of her own sense of vocation throughout the last ninety years.
Andrew Braddock, Director of Mission and Ministry, Diocese of Gloucester