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The Queen unable to host traditional Lambeth Conference Garden Party

The Queen unable to host traditional Lambeth Conference Garden Party
She attended her first Lambeth Conference in 1948

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
August 5, 2022

Queen Elizabeth II is the Defender of the Faith in Great Britain and her other realms. Defender of the Faith is a title handed down to her from her many times great grand uncle Henry VIII, who was given the title by Pope Leo X in 1521 for his defense of the sacramental nature of marriage in his book, Defence of the Seven Sacraments (Assertio Septem Sacramentorum). In his younger years, Henry was a very good theologian. His apologetics, also known as the "Henrician Affirmation", was seen as an important defense of the Catholic faith especially during the early stages of the developing Protestant Reformation on the European continent, against the writings of Martin Luther in Germany.

Henry was a Duke of York, second in line to the throne. His brother Arthur was the Prince of Wales and his Princess of Wales was Catherine of Aragon. Princess Catherine was the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel of Spain, who underwrote Christopher Columbus' voyages to the New World in 1492.

The union between Prince Arthur and Princess Catherine was politically arranged when they were children. The youngsters were betrothed in 1497 and married at Old St. Paul's Cathedral in November 1501. Both Arthur and Catherine came down with the mysterious English sweating sickness sweeping Europe at the time. Catherine survived and Arthur did not. The 15-year-old Prince died in April 1502, leaving behind his young bride of less than six months.

When Henry first married, it was to his brother's widow the Princess of Wales. But in order to do this he needed a dispensation from Pope Julius II. Catholic canon law forbids a man to marry his brother's widow.

Henry was desperate for a son to carry on the English throne. There had never been a queen regent in England and Catherine of Aragon had produced a living daughter Mary. Her other five pregnancies ended in miscarriages, stillborn children and Baby Prince Henry, who lived only seven weeks. So, since Henry had asked for a papal dispensation to marry his brother's widow in the first place, he felt that the Lord was withholding a male heir from him for violating the scriptural prohibition in Leviticus concerning marriage.

"If a man marries his brother's wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless." (Leviticus 20:21)

Henry at one time was a devout and well-informed Catholic and thus he felt that his marriage to Catherine was "blighted in the eyes of God," because he had violated Scripture to marry her.

However, the current pope was Clement VII who was being pressured by Charles V of Spain. Queen Catherine of England was King Charles' maternal aunt. So, the pope would not grant an annulment to allow the King of England to remarry and to try and produce a legitimate surviving male heir.

At one time, Spain's Prince Charles was betrothed to Henry's younger sister Princess Mary, but the marriage was called off so she could marry King Louis XII of France, thus becoming the Queen of France.

The Pope Clement ruled that a validly contracted marriage is indivisible until death, and thus he, as pope, could not annul a marriage on the basis of an impediment previously dispensed. However, the ruling was more of a political decision than a theological one.

At that point, King Henry's theology got all caught up with his desire to procreate and produce a son before his death. He had six wives in his quest to pass his crown on to a prince. Eventually, he passed his crown on to a prince and two princesses.

King Henry did produce three children from three wives -- two girls, Mary and Elizabeth, and a boy, James. Although all three children ascended the throne, they all died childless.

So the line to the English throne then went through Henry's sister, Margaret, Queen of Scotland. Her complicated royal lineage includes: King James V of Scotland, Queen Mary I of Scotland; King James I of England, Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia; Princess Sophia of Hanover; King George I; King George II; King George III; Prince Edward of Kent; Queen Victoria; King Edward VII; King George V; King George VI; and since 1952 Queen Elizabeth II, making Henry VIII Queen Elizabeth's multiple times great uncle, with the common direct bloodline relative being King Henry VII.

Following Henry VIII's annulment problems with the Pope, Henry turned to his Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, who granted the King his desired annulment.

Pope Clement responded by excommunicating both the King and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

This was then the beginning of the end of Roman Catholic spiritual rule in England. In 1534, the first Act of Supremacy was signed. Henry became "the only supreme head on Earth of the Church of England" which was recognized by Parliament.

The title Defender of the Faith was first bestowed on Henry VIII by Pope Leo X for taking Martin Luther. A title was conferred by Parliament on King Henry in 1544 following the breakdown between England and Rome. By that time, the Church in England had become the Church of England.

ENGLISH: Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

LATIN: Elizabeth II, Dei Gratia Britanniarum Regnorumque Suorum Ceterorum Regina, Consortionis Populorum Princeps, Fidei Defensor.

WELSH: Elizabeth yr Ail, trwy Ras Duw, o Deyrnas Unedig Prydain Fawr a Gogledd Iwerddon a'i Theyrnasoedd a'i Thiriogaethau eraill, Brenhines, Pennaeth y Gymanwlad, Amddiffynnydd y Ffydd.

In 1558, Parliament passed a second Act of Supremacy 1558, which declared Elizabeth I the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

This is the title that Elizabeth II still enjoys today.

As the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and the Defender of the Faith, Queen Elizabeth keeps a keen eye on what's going on in the Church of England.

There have been nine Lambeth Conferences since Queen Elizabeth was born in 1926. The first Lambeth Conference of her lifetime was in 1930. She was all of four and her grandfather King George V was the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. A 22-year-old young Princess Elizabeth attended the next Lambeth Conference in 1948 with her father who, as King George VI, inherited the title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

In the days before Internet and social media, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, the British media filmed news shorts by British MovieTone and British Pathe to be played in movie theaters before the film feature.

There are a few surviving Lambeth Conference news shorts going back to 1920, 1930, 1948, 1958, 1968, and 1998. All are in black and white and some are silent, grainy news clips.

Princess Elizabeth became Queen in 1952 and she has had twice as many prime ministers serve her as she has archbishops of Canterbury.

Since becoming Queen in 1952, the prime ministers who have served her include: Winston Churchill (1951-1955); Anthony Eden (1955-1957); Harold Macmillan (1957-1963); Alec Douglas-Home (1963-1964); Harold Wilson (1964-1970); Edward Heath (1970-1974); James Callaghan (1976-1979); Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990); John Major (1990-1997); Tony Blair (1997-2007); Gordon Brown (2007-2010); David Cameron (2010-2016); Theresa May (2016-2019); and Boris Johnson (since 2019).

The Queen and her family are very close to the archbishops of Canterbury. It is the archbishops who provide the spiritual ministry to the Royal Family. They crown the new monarch, they conduct the weddings, they baptize the little princes and princesses; then confirm them when the time is right. They hold the funerals. They help meet the Royal Family's high profile spiritual needs.

Geoffrey Fisher was Archbishop of Canterbury (1945-1961) when Elizabeth assumed the throne in 1952. He was followed by Michael Ramsey (1961-1974); Donald Coggin (1974-1980); Robert Runcie (1980-1991); George Carey (1991-2002); Rowan Williams (2002-2012); and Justin Welby (since 2012).

The Queen has been involved in every Lambeth Conference since 1948, by hosting a gathering at Buckingham Palace in 1958, 1968, 1978, 1988, 1998, and 2008 for the bishops and their spouses.

Although, in 1978 the Queen was unable to personally greet her Lambeth guests for she was touring Canada. However, the beloved Queen Mother and Princess Margaret did the honors.

At the 1998 Garden Party, the Queen served tea, iced coffee, and lemon squash and a huge selection of tea cakes and sweets while two military bands played in the distance.

This was also the first time that women bishops attended Lambeth, so there was a concerted effort to make sure the Queen met each of the 11 women bishops individually.

In 2008 at a Lambeth Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, the Queen served her guests tea and sweets, or apple juice made from the fruit of her own apple orchard.

Although, she has not personally attended the 2022 Lambeth Conference due to her own advancing age (96), frailty and mobility issues, she did not allow this year's Lambeth Conference to slip by without sending her personal greetings.

She writes: "It is with great pleasure that I send my warm greetings as you continue your meeting in the fifteenth Lambeth Conference. As we all emerge from the pandemic, I know that the Conference is taking place at a time of great need for the love of God -- both in word and deed. ...

"I am reminded that this gathering was necessarily postponed two years ago, when you had hoped to mark the centenary of the Lambeth Conference that took place in 1920, in the aftermath of the First World War. Then, the bishops of the Anglican Communion set out a path for an ongoing commitment towards Christian unity in a changing world; a task that is, perhaps, even more important today, as together you look to the future and explore the role of the church in responding to the needs of the present age. ...

"Now, as so often in the past, you have convened during a period of immense challenge for bishops, clergy and lay people around the world, with many of you serving in places of suffering, conflict and trauma. It is of comfort to me that you do so in the strength of God. ...

"We also live in a time when the effects of climate change are threatening the lives and livelihoods of many people and communities, not least the poorest and those less able to adapt and adjust. I was interested to learn that the focus of your programme at Lambeth Palace today is reflection and dialogue on the theme of the environment, a cause close to the heart of my late husband, and carried on by The Prince of Wales and The Duke of Cambridge. ...

"Throughout my life, the message and teachings of Christ have been my guide and in them I find hope. It is my heartfelt prayer that you will continue to be sustained by your faith in times of trial and encouraged by hope at times of despair. ...

"I send my warmest good wishes to you all for a successful Conference and may God bless you in your ministry and service in his world."

Dated: 3rd August, 2022

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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