The passing of the great Evangelical Preacher Billy Graham this week has lead to many sharing their personal stories of how their lives were touched by Billy’s powerful sermons. From Reba, Bono, Kathie Lee Gifford to Chip and Joanna so many testimonies of faith came to light. But it is the story of friendship between Billy Graham and Queen Elizabeth that really surprised me.
Billy Graham and Queen Elizabeth – Meeting The Queen
As part of Billy Graham’s famous crusades, which began in 1947, he traveled across six continents spreading the message of the Gospel. In 1950s Billy Graham traveled to London for a 12-week crusade which drew more than 2 million people to hear about the love of Christ. One of the people captivated by the Reverend was a very young Queen Elizabeth.
The Queen is “deeply religious” and "Her Christian faith is fundamental to her, in an old-time evangelical way," according to a noted Royal Family historian Robert Lacey.
As the head of the Church of England, you can imagine what an enormous impact faith has on not just her major decision but on her day to day life. So of course when an Evangelist who drew such crowds as Billy Graham came to London she knew she had to meet him.
The two formed a quiet but strong friendship over the years. And Billy Graham spoke a bit about that friendship in his autobiography Just As I Am.
“Her official position has prevented her from openly endorsing our Crusade meetings. But by welcoming us and having me preach on several occasions to the royal family at Windsor and Sandringham, she has gone out of her way to be quietly supportive of our mission.”
Queen Elizabeth II invited my parents to the palace on a number of occasions when my father was preaching in the UK. pic.twitter.com/QuIHBQbWAK
- Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) April 21, 2016
Billy Graham and Queen Elizabeth – Forming A Friendship
On the many occasions that Billy Graham traveled to England, he was often invited to preach at Queen Elizabeth’s church. Or he was invited to the palace to share a meal with the royal family. In fact, on one occasion the Queen even enlisted the help of Billy Graham to help her with her Christmas address to country. Billy said in his book,
“She asked me to come and listen to her practice the speech by the pond and give my impressions, which I did. I always found her very interested in the Bible and its message. After preaching at Windsor one Sunday, I was sitting next to the Queen at lunch. I told her I had been undecided until the last minute about my choice of sermon and had almost preached on the healing of the crippled man in John 5. Her eyes sparkled and she bubbled over with enthusiasm, as she could do on occasion. ‘I wish you had!’ she exclaimed. ‘That is my favorite story.’"
It’s obvious that the two greatly respected each other and that their love of the Lord brought them closer as friends. Though Queen Elizabeth can’t say much about their friendship she did honor Billy Graham with an honorary Knighthood in 2001, the highest honor the Queen can give a non-British citizen.
I can only imagine how heartbroken she was to hear of his passing. But, instead of making a large flashy public statement the Palace confirmed that she is sending personal letters of condolence to Franklin Graham and the rest of the Graham family.
What an incredible story of friendship and faith. It must have been so comforting to know that through all the ups and downs of her reign, the Queen had a close counselor and friend in Billy Graham. And I’m sure he would help her take her problems to the Lord in a way only he could.
While the queen and all those impacted by Billy Graham’s teachings and friendships are sad that earth lost a great spiritual leader and friend, they can find peace that he is in Heaven and will be reunited with them one day!
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