The Second Elizabethan Age: Its Prophetic Significance
The long reign of Queen Elizabeth II is now part of the annals of history. Did the second Elizabethan age have prophetic significance?
The recent death of Queen Elizabeth II ended what has been called the second Elizabethan age. The era lasted 70 years—beginning on Feb. 6, 1952, and ending with the queen’s death on Sept. 8, 2022.
Now that her 70-year reign has come to an end, historians are just beginning to consider and analyze the hallmarks and significance of her time as monarch—the longest reign in British history.
Her reign saw major changes to Great Britain and to the world. What was the prophetic significance of her 70-year link in the long chain of history?
Changes during her reign
Elizabeth’s time as queen was a time of major change for the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the world. She ascended to the throne just seven years after the end of World War II. That war, in many ways, was a major cause of the many changes that occurred during her reign.
Perhaps the largest of all changes was the rapid dissolution of the British Empire and its morphing into the Commonwealth of Nations.
Ironically, the historical foundations of that empire were built during the first Elizabethan age.
The first major overseas colonies of Great Britain were established during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It was “the Virgin Queen” who chartered the first British colonies in North America in the late 16th century. Her 45-year reign was often called the “Golden Age” of Britain.
Almost 400 years later, the second Queen Elizabeth oversaw the granting of independence to many nations of that great empire.
That process began in earnest when India became independent in 1947, five years before she took the throne, but accelerated rapidly during her reign in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Empire transitioned into the Commonwealth.
She also oversaw major changes to the nature of the monarchy. The monarchy had already been challenged and weakened by the abdication and behavior of Elizabeth’s uncle, Edward VIII. It fell on her father, and Elizabeth, to rebuild and reshape the image of the monarchy from that crisis.
But other major challenges would come because of the development of television and print media during her reign. The poor decisions and scandals surrounding her family, which in the past would have been discreetly covered and known to only a few people, became gossip and tabloid fodder for the media. The media made the drama in the personal lives of the royal family a constant public soap opera. This challenged the mystique and respect for the royal family as an institution.
But, remarkably, the queen was able to largely remain scandal-free and uncontroversial. She only achieved this through her unwavering dedication to duty, her self-control, her palpable love of her subjects, and her personal dedication to moral living.
Her reign also brought challenges to the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. Though they were close allies during the two world wars, their relationship became strained in the ensuing years due to the U.K.’s economic hardships and areas of geopolitical disagreement that became evident during the 1956 Suez Crisis.
In many ways, after World War II the United States inherited the global roles and responsibilities that had formerly been held by the British Empire. Instead of the British Empire, the United States began to serve as a global policeman and defender of such values as democracy, human rights and free markets.
Tension was inevitable during this time as Great Britain was adjusting to the reality of losing its global superpower status and the United States was rising to take its place.
Though Queen Elizabeth’s 70-year reign did include many serious challenges and changes, perhaps the greatest testimony to the queen’s leadership was her ability to remain a symbol of stability in turbulent times. She contributed to not only preserving the monarchy, but also incrementally modernizing it—in her own way.
The Elizabethan age and prophecy
As our longtime readers understand, we believe that Queen Elizabeth and the peoples she reigned over have prophetic significance. As we explain in our booklet The United States, Britain and the Commonwealth in Prophecy, the descendants of Joseph’s son Ephraim were to become “a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:19).
Never underestimate the power and influence of consistency and continuity in history.That promise was fulfilled in the rise of the British Empire and continues today through the Commonwealth. We also understand the British monarchy to have biblical roots in the promise that the throne of David would continue forever (Jeremiah 33:17).
Even though Elizabeth II is not specifically mentioned in Bible prophecy, she played an important role as a strong link in a long prophetic chain that goes back thousands of years. Her greatest contributions were continuity and humble service.
We should never underestimate the power and influence of consistency and continuity in history. Some of history’s greatest figures were great not because they dramatically changed the course of history, but because they quietly contributed to positive continuity.
Let’s consider the queen’s significant contributions to the historical and prophetic chain.
1. The strengthening and development of the Commonwealth of Nations.
As mentioned above, the queen largely oversaw the dissolution of the British Empire. Hong Kong, the last major holding of the Empire, was given back to China in 1997.
Typically, when peoples are freed from foreign rule, they embrace independence and want little to do with their former overlords. But this was not so with the dissolution of the British Empire. Many of Britain’s former dominions maintained their connection with Britain, the crown and each other through the British Commonwealth (as it was originally called) and then the Commonwealth of Nations (its designation beginning in 1949).
Many of the new nations created out of the Empire, either immediately or later on, voluntarily joined the Commonwealth. The queen was the head of the Commonwealth and devoted her life to it.
At the time of Queen Elizabeth II’s death, the Commonwealth consisted of 56 countries. Some of these—such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia—retained her as head of state until the day she died.
Interestingly, in recent decades nations that were never under British rule have joined the association: Rwanda (2009), Mozambique (1995), and Gabon and Togo (2022).
The queen took a keen interest in the Commonwealth and put great emphasis and energy into her role as its leader.
According to the Lowy Institute, “she will be remembered . . . for her dedication to the Commonwealth and for her commitment to and interest in the nations that, when she became Queen in 1952, were part of her empire and that during her reign became self-governing nations. The Queen accepted this transition in a manner that made the Commonwealth a much more formidable partnership than it might otherwise have been. It was often said that the Commonwealth continued to exist long beyond the end of the empire solely because of the unity she gave it by her example and dedication.”
An article in The Economist also credited her with the Commonwealth’s survival: “Of all her foreign duties, the queen attached the greatest importance to her role as head of the organization, though it dropped the prefix ‘British’ before she took the throne. She was widely respected, even revered, in the 56 independent countries that currently make up the club. Some say she was partly responsible for its survival.”
Queen Elizabeth II played a major role in keeping together “the company of nations” that was promised to the descendants of Ephraim (Genesis 35:11; see also Genesis 48:19). She was the symbolic figure that united those nations.
But now, after her death, many questions remain about the Commonwealth’s future. Will King Charles III prioritize the continuation of the Commonwealth with the same energy his mother did? Will the Commonwealth stay together with him at its helm?
Will Canada, New Zealand and Australia continue to maintain the crown, under King Charles III, as their head of state? Or will they use this moment as an opportunity to transition to republics? (There is currently a strong pro-republic movement in Australia.)
Though Britain is no longer the power and empire it was at its height, the blessings God gave it have not been removed entirely. The United Kingdom is still a significant power, and the Commonwealth has maintained connections between it and the other nations that received the Ephraimite blessings.
How long will it be before God removes the last vestiges of Britain’s (and America’s) power and greatness because of national sin?
For more insight, read “The Island That Forgot God.”
2. The continuation of the British monarchy.
The British monarchy was able to survive two world wars. This was a significant feat considering that many of the great monarchies of Europe fell during the first half of the 20th century. Over the past 100 years, the overall flow of history has swept away many monarchies and seen the rise of liberal democracies and totalitarian regimes in their place.
But the British monarchy has continued despite the overall tide of history. Norman Davies, in his book The Isles: A History, marvels at this fact: “The survival of the British monarchy had no parallel among the grander dynasties of Europe” (1999, p. 937).
Many commentators and historians are reflecting on the queen’s important role in preserving the institution she represented. Throughout her reign, she was very careful to use the tools of strategic invisibility and visibility to the benefit of the crown.
- Visibility. She maintained a very rigorous schedule of overseas trips and domestic appearances to keep herself constantly in the public eye in a positive manner. She even purposefully wore bright colors to be more visible and recognizable to people who attended ceremonies and events to see her.
In her later years, she was able to use media to modernize the monarchy and increase her visibility.
For instance, she was active on social media and even appeared in comedic videos with pop culture icons such as Daniel Craig’s James Bond and the animated Paddington Bear. These efforts made her even more beloved by her subjects and the world.
- Invisibility. She strategically maintained her personal privacy and only let her subjects see her private life in carefully selected settings.
But perhaps the most significant way she used invisibility was by keeping her personal views private and largely unspoken.
For a constitutional monarchy to be maintained, a monarch must remain acutely apolitical. Queen Elizabeth II fulfilled this responsibility with great skill, and throughout her reign she was able to stand apart and above the fray of politics. This not only strengthened her, but strengthened the institution she represented.
But now that Queen Elizabeth is gone, many are asking how long the monarchy can survive. Will King Charles III, who takes the throne with far more baggage than his mother ever had, be able to maintain the popularity and viability of the crown?
Though he is unlikely to have the beloved status and popularity his mother enjoyed, consider that he has been in training for this role his entire life. He is probably the best-prepared new monarch in history and, for 70 years, was able to watch and learn from his mother’s example.
King Charles III will never be his mother, but he doesn’t have to be. His job is simply to preserve the institution he represents by maintaining the basic approach of his mother and incrementally modernizing the monarchy without compromising or bringing disrepute to it.
Also, consider that the line of succession, through Prince William and his son Prince George, nearly ensures there will be kings of the House of Windsor on the throne into the 22nd century. (Prince George will turn 90 years old on July 22, 2103.)
We believe the queen was a link in a long chain of monarchs that goes all the way back to the biblical King David. The Bible shows that David’s throne will endure until the return of Jesus Christ (Genesis 49:10).
3. The continuation of the “special relationship.”
For years, the United Kingdom and United States have maintained a very close geopolitical relationship that has been called “the special relationship.” That relationship has existed not only due to common strategic interests, but due to a common culture, language, values and shared history.
As we explained above, that relationship was tested during the post–World War II era.
But Queen Elizabeth II was able to have a part in improving those relationships by maintaining friendly relations, and even friendships, with many American presidents.
She met 13 U.S. presidents during her long reign (from Harry Truman to Joe Biden; with Lyndon B. Johnson being the only exception).
Presidents are used to meeting other heads of state, but many past presidents have commented on how significant it was to meet the queen.
She maintained an unusually close friendship with Ronald and Nancy Reagan in the 1980s.
The Lowy Institute writes, “In 1983, at the height of the two countries’ ‘Special Relationship’, she spent ten days with President Ronald Reagan. A 12-day visit in 1991, as a guest of President George H.W. Bush, took her to the south, and her final visit in 2007 with George W. Bush allowed her to see towns founded by English settlers in what had been English colonies 400 years earlier.”
But it wasn’t just about her friendships with presidents. She also enjoyed a high level of popularity among the American people; this increased their feelings of kinship with the nation they had fought against in the war for their independence. She enjoyed five vacations to the state of Kentucky due to her love of horses, and she even traveled to the U.S. to celebrate America’s bicentennial.
In a remarkable display of respect, President Joseph Biden ordered American flags be flown at half-staff until her interment.
In his proclamation on her death, President Biden commented on her role in strengthening the relationship between the two nations: “She was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock Alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States. She helped make our relationship special.”
The “special relationship” is significant to Bible students who understand that the British and American peoples are literally brother nations—descended from the two sons of Joseph: Ephraim and Manasseh.
Though most don’t recognize the biblical identity of these nations, their continued “special relationship” reinforces that these peoples are not just united by a common language, but by a common ancestry.
To learn more, read “Who Are the United States and Britain in Prophecy?”
The legacy of the queen
There is so much that could be said about the legacy of this extraordinary woman. She set a tremendous example throughout her long life and can teach us much about dignity, duty, respect, morality and even humor.
Queen Elizabeth II wasn’t directly named or identified in the Bible, but she did play a significant role as a strong link in the chain of certain historical themes of biblical significance.
Students of prophecy understand that major changes are coming for Great Britain and the United States. Because of national sins, the blessings that God has graciously given these peoples will be removed. Punishment is coming for rejection of God and the basic values of the Bible.
But, thankfully, we know those events did not occur during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. They will happen while she sleeps peacefully in her grave.
Perhaps, in a small way, her leadership and example were factors for why those events did not take place during the second Elizabethan age.
Photo credit: The Royal Family (Royal.Uk).
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