Queen Elizabeth II has been relying on her faith to cope with tough times.
In the wake of quitting royal duties, her grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle gave an explosive TV interview to Oprah Winfrey in March of this year where they described painful comments about how dark their son Archie’s skin might be before his birth.
Buckingham Palace said the allegations of racism made by the couple were “concerning” and would be addressed privately.
A month later, the reigning monarch’s husband Prince Philip, who spent more than seven decades supporting his wife, passed away on April 9 at age 99. And earlier this month, the queen’s son Prince Andrew acknowledged through his lawyer that he has been served with a lawsuit by an American woman who says he sexually assaulted her.
Royal author Matthew Dennison told Fox News that the queen, 95, has been turning to her Christian faith to help her overcome the ongoing drama rocking the palace.
“She has a strong religious faith,” he shared. “One of the things that the queen has done is pray throughout all of this. She also has a loyal, supportive group of private secretaries, ladies in waiting and devoted friends who have been a strong system around her. She also has the support of her close-knit family.”
“She finds it difficult to confront difficult issues,” he noted. “I think she has gotten better over time.”
Dennison, who has written eight critically acclaimed books, has recently penned “The Queen,” a new biography that explores Elizabeth’s decades-long reign. He spoke to several palace insiders, both past and present, to tell the queen’s story. Dennison said that during his research, faith played a prominent role in the royal’s life.
“She has a connection with the divine,” he explained. “She is a monarch who made a promise before God to fulfill her duty. And it’s a promise she has taken very seriously in her life. Even as a young woman, she has faced an overwhelming expectation on what kind of queen she should be… She has embraced that role.”
Despite losing her beloved husband, Dennison said Elizabeth has zero plans to step down. Her eldest son Prince Charles, 72, is first in line to the throne.
“There wasn’t ever a realistic expectation that the death of the Duke of Edinburgh would lead the queen to abdicate,” Dennison shared. “In the very few times she has spoken about it to her close friends, she has always been quite clear that the promises she made in her coronation are binding. These are promises she made to God in the church. These are holy promises. She’s always said she would abdicate only if she got Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, or something that would leave her incapacitated in some way. But this role is for life.”
Dennison pointed out that despite family drama and tragedy, the queen has chosen to carry on.
“There are two other very significant deaths in her life that shaped her in the later years – the death of her mother at 101 and then the death of her beloved sister Princess Margaret a few weeks before that,” he said. “The queen’s response to both of those tragic losses was to keep going with the job at hand. Therefore, I’m not at all surprised that this has been her response to the duke’s death, too. It doesn’t mean that she isn’t feeling it very deeply.”
The family has also been essential to the queen’s life. Despite the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s move to California after stepping back from royal duties, Dennison said Harry, 37, still has a close bond with his grandmother.
“Ultimately, the decision to step back had to be taken to the queen first,” he said. “The queen acted considerably. The decision [the Duke and Duchess of Sussex initially] reached was a sort of half in and half out arrangement. One where they would spend part of the year in North America as ordinary individuals and then part of the year in Britain, or based in the Commonwealth, as working members of the royal family. That simply isn’t possible. That duty, as the queen has shown, cannot be a part-time calling. Duty, to the queen, is all-encompassing. You are devoted to duty every day of your life. You can’t take six months or a year off from it.”
“She reacted very sensitively to her grandson, but she also reacted very clearly and strongly,” he continued. “There is no doubt that the queen felt a level of disappointment by what has happened. And when the interview [with Oprah] aired, it was quite shocking in Britain. Many were shocked by the televised interview because it seemed like such an unkind thing to do. And of course, the timing was shocking. Many believe that at her age, she should be in tranquil waters. She shouldn’t have to deal with this sort of thing.”
Dennison said he hopes his book will teach readers the most important lesson that the queen has demonstrated over the years – duty comes first.
“There was one thing that was clearly understood, certainly in Britain,” he said. “When the queen came to the throne in 1952, [her goal] was not to be a celebrity. It wasn’t to be a film star. It’s not that kind of role. The dominance of celebrity culture nowadays has made it difficult for people to differentiate between royalty and celebrity. The queen herself has always very clearly distinguished between those things. I hope readers will get a sense of the joy she has taken from this lifelong calling and the contribution that she has made to the life of the Commonwealth.”
Elizabeth became queen in 1952 after the death of her father, King George VI. She was formally crowned in 1953 and has ruled for longer than any other monarch in British history.
According to the royal family’s website, the queen has links as either royal patron or president to over 600 charities, military associations, professional bodies and public service organizations. Her patronages and charities focus on various causes, including providing opportunities for young people and the environment.
Then-Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip in 1947 – five years before she became queen at age 25. Their marriage lasted 73 years, making Philip Britain’s longest-serving consort. She described the Duke of Edinburgh as her “strength and stay” in public.
Elizabeth marked what would have been Philip’s 100th birthday on June 10th with the planting of a newly bred rose named after him.
The Associated Press has contributed to this report.