C. S. Lewis on Queen Elizabeth II

C. S. Lewis on Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on 2 June 1953 in London. C. S. Lewis chose not to attend the festivities because the weather was not great, because he did not like crowds, and because he was not in the mood to dress up. Instead he stayed at home and watched the event on TV (it was the first fully televised coronation).

A month later Lewis reflected on the coronation in a letter to a friend (Letters, 3:343):

You know, over here people did not get that fairy-tale feeling about the coronation. What impressed most who saw it was the fact that the Queen herself appeared to be quite overwhelmed by the sacramental side of it. Hence, in the spectators, a feeling of (one hardly knows how to describe it) — awe — pity — pathos — mystery.

The pressing of that huge, heavy crown on that small, young head becomes a sort of symbol of the situation of humanity itself: humanity called by God to be His vice-regent and high priest on earth, yet feeling so inadequate. As if He said, ‘In my inexorable love I shall lay upon the dust that you are glories and dangers and responsibilities beyond your understanding.’

Do you see what I mean? One has missed the whole point unless one feels that we have all been crowned and that coronation is somehow, if splendid, a tragic splendor.

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Tony Reinke (@tonyreinke) is a content strategist and staff writer for Desiring God and the author of Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books (2011) and John Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (2015). He hosts the Ask Pastor John and Authors on the Line podcasts, and lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and their three children.