Billy Graham and Queen Elizabeth II

September 13, 2022

Categories: Billy Graham

As the world mourns the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, we remember her friendship with Billy Graham that spanned over six decades.

Billy Graham initially drew the notice of Queen Elizabeth when he held his first international Crusade in London in 1954. Many expected Billy’s Crusade to fail – the media hailed him as an American salesman of sorts.

Poster from Wembley Stadium, 1955

However, thousands came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ during those weeks in London. When Rev. Graham returned to the UK in 1955 to hold Crusades in Glasgow, Scotland, and London’s Wembley Stadium, Queen Elizabeth invited him to preach at the chapel at Windsor Castle.

The Daily Express newspaper from May 23, 1955, with story about Billy Graham preaching before the Queen at chapel at Windsor Castle

Over the years, Billy Graham preached multiple times to the royal family. In his autobiography Just As I Am, he wrote, “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.”

Billy Graham and Queen Elizabeth after he preached at Sandringham in 1989

Billy Graham was always impressed by the Queen’s faith. “I always found her very interested in the Bible and its message,” he said. “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.’”

Daily Express newspaper article from June 11, 1959

When Queen Elizabeth visited the United States in 1983, Billy Graham was invited to attend the state dinner held by Ronald Reagan in her honor. “She is unquestionably one of the best-informed people on world affairs I have ever met,” the evangelist said. “I have always found her highly intelligent and knowledgeable about a wide variety of issues, not just politics.”

Billy Graham greeting Queen Elizabeth II at a state dinner held in her honor by then-President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan

Billy Graham’s favorite picture of Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, was a formal portrait taken of the couple to celebrate her 40th year on the throne in 1992. After it was published in the Sunday Telegraph, Rev. Graham wrote to ask if he might have a copy of the photo for his home, if protocol allowed. He was answered with a signed and dated copy of the photo.

Signed formal portrait of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

In 2001, Billy Graham was named as an Honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire. British Ambassador Christopher Meyer conferred the honor on the Queen’s behalf at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Upon receiving the honor, he said, “I especially want to ask you, sir, to convey to Her Majesty the Queen, my deepest gratitude for the high honor she has graciously bestowed upon me this evening. I accept it with humility and unworthiness, and I take it as a symbol of the common historical ties that have bound our two nations together in war and in peace.”

Billy Graham’s certificate of honorary knighthood and medal

While the world has lost a truly amazing world leader, we celebrate her legacy and praise God for her faith in Jesus Christ and her life well-lived.

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