Queen Elizabeth II, head of the Church of England, thanked BBC’s long-running TV series “Songs of Praise,” which celebrated nearly 3,000 episodes on its 60th anniversary Sunday, for presenting Christianity as a “living faith.”
“For 60 years, Songs of Praise has drawn together congregations and BBC viewers throughout the United Kingdom in collective worship,” the queen said in a message for a special episode of the show Sunday, The Telegraph reported.
“During that time, the program has shown Christianity as a living faith not only through hymns and worship songs, but also by featuring the many people who have put their faith at the center of their lives,” the 95-year-old queen continued.
“I congratulate 'Songs of Praise' and all those involved in the program on its 60th anniversary,” she added.
Aled Jones, who has been a "Songs of Praise" presenter for over 20 years, called it “one of the biggest joys of my life.”
“It is an honor to be able to share uplifting stories of faith with our dear audience and to gladden hearts with music that means the world to me. Here’s to a future filled with wonderful 'Songs of Praise!'” Jones was quoted as saying.
On Saturday morning, while opening the new session of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, the queen spoke publicly about the Duke of Edinburgh for the first time since his death in April, The Sunday Times reported.
“I have spoken before of my deep and abiding affection for this wonderful country, and of the many happy memories Prince Philip and I always held of our time here,” she was quoted as saying. “It is often said that it is the people that make a place, and there are few places where this is truer than in Scotland, as we have seen in recent times.”
A church leader close to the late Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, revealed in a media interview back in April that he had “persuaded” the queen, his wife, to talk more about her Christian faith ahead of her Christmas broadcast in 2000.
“[Prince Philip] was the person really who encouraged the queen to talk about her own faith in her Christmas broadcasts,” the Rev. Ian Bradley, the author of God Save the Queen, told Premier Christian News at the time.
He recalled that in the old days, “they really used to be more like travelogues, and they would just say where the royal family had been.”
Bradley, who preached for the duke and the queen as a visiting preacher at the Parish of Braemar and Crathie, said that in her 2000 broadcast, the “queen spoke very movingly and powerfully about her own Christian faith and the impact it had on her.”
“And there was a very positive response from viewers,” he said. “And ... it was Philip who really persuaded the queen to make more of her own Christian faith. And he said, ‘You should be talking about this.’”
Bradley also shared that Prince Philip was interested in theology.
“He would note down all the details of the sermon. He was extremely interested … in theology. He had a wonderful knowledge of the Bible, and then he would sort of quiz you at lunchtime, ask you about your sermon and really put you on your mettle. And I was amazed at his biblical knowledge.”
In her 2016 book ahead of her 90th birthday, the queen reflected on Jesus’ central role in her life.
“I have been — and remain — very grateful to you for your prayers and to God for His steadfast love,” the British monarch wrote in the foreword to The Servant Queen and the King She Serves. “I have indeed seen His faithfulness.”