Billy Graham is known for preaching to huge crowds all around the world. However, he also had the opportunity to develop personal and pastoral relationships with numerous world leaders, including Queen Elizabeth II.
Billy Graham never wanted to be a preacher — he wanted to be anything but a clergyman. However, his decision to fully surrender his life to the service and direction of God led him to share the Gospel with more people than any other person.
Billy’s time in the United Kingdom launched his ministry to new heights: powerful opposition was overcome by persistence, prayer and humility. The 1954 Harringay crusade was opposed by the media, influential political figures and many church leaders. Yet, despite the opposition, the Harringay stadium was packed for three months straight; in Wimberly Stadium, 185,000 people gathered to hear the preacher; the face of British Christianity was changed forever.
Read more about the 1954 Harringay crusade here.
While in the United Kingdom for a second time, in 1955, Billy Graham was invited by the Queen to preach at the Windsor Castle chapel. It was not the last time Billy would preach at Windsor Castle.
Their first meeting began a long-lasting friendship between Queen Elizabeth, herself a faithful follower of Jesus with a deep understanding of the Gospel, and the fiery Southern Baptist evangelist. From that point forward, the Queen regularly invited Billy and his wife to tea when they were in London.
Graham was struck by the Queen’s gentleness and humility. Billy Graham’s former Executive Assistant, David Bruce, recounted that Billy and his wife had been out walking at Sandringham House, the royal residence in Norfolk, England when they saw who they thought was a gardener feeding the dogs.
When the gardener stood up, however, the Grahams realised that it was actually the Queen. Apparently, Billy “laughed about that for the rest of his life”.
A powerful new documentary by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association recounts the story of Billy Graham’s relationship with the Queen and with the United Kingdom.
While Billy was always careful to guard the privacy of figures with whom he spent time, it is clear that the Queen and he enjoyed a common faith and spiritual fellowship. Their friendship remained firm despite the rapidly changing world around them.
The new BGEA documentary is well worth a watch. Praise God for a Queen with such deep faith!
Originally published on The Daily Declaration.