FEATURE – How Elizabeth II Showed Respect to Orthodoxy at Christening of Philip’s Godson

UK Queen Elizabeth II had a “very human” engagement with Orthodox Christianity and showed great respect for its religious service, a longtime assistant for famous Russian Bishop Basil (Rodzianko), Marilyn Swezey, told Sputnik.

Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, at the age of 96, at the Balmoral Castle in Scotland surrounded by her family after over 70 years on the British throne. Her eldest son, Charles, became the new king of the United Kingdom immediately after her death. The public farewell ceremony to Queen Elizabeth II is being held at Westminster Abbey from September 14-19. The late monarch’s funeral took place at 11 a.m. local time (10:00 GMT) on September 19.

The “human” story, which Swezey was referring to, occurred in London approximately in the 1960s. Future Bishop Basil (then-priest Vladimir Rodzianko) — a grandson of Mikhail Rodzianko, the last chair of the Russian Duma under Tsar Nicholas II — served in a local Serbian Orthodox cathedral at the time. He had very good relations with the Serbian diaspora, including the family of last Serbian King Peter II Karageorgevitch.

“Father Vladimir was asked to baptize a newborn Prince of Serbia. It had been already arranged by the Royal family of Serbia for Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth’s husband, to be the godfather,” Swezey said.

While it is not well known broadly, Prince Philip was baptized in a Greek Orthodox church, and his mother was a niece of the canonized last Russian Empress Alexandra and Grand Duchess Elizabeth, whom she greatly admired, Swezey added.

The baptism ceremony for the Serbian prince took place at the cathedral where Rodzianko served. Swezey noted that she never heard the name of this prince – the bishop simply called him a little Serbian Prince.

During baptism service, godparents have to hold their godchildren on hands for quite a long time. However, the little prince became very active and even noisy. Prince Philip tried to calm him down, but nothing helped. Then, he turned to his wife, who stood not so far away, and gestured, asking her to help.

“The Queen looked to her husband and smiled, and she raised her hands and just crossed them back and forth, which was, of course, a hand signal for the Prince: ‘No, I can not do that. This is up to you,'” Swezey said.

The Queen’s response was absolutely correct because she was not Orthodox and attended the Orthodox service only because her husband was invited to be the godfather of a child, she added.

“Father Vladimir Rodzyanko, the future Bishop Basil, who was a baptizing priest, was very amused to see this communication between the Queen and the Prince. The Prince asked: ‘Help.’ The Queen said: ‘No, I can not, it is up to you,'” the bishop’s assistant noted.

Despite the noise and excessive activity, the little prince was baptized, and the priest was very surprised that the Queen came to his cathedral.

“Bishop Basil loved to share this story with humor, and understanding, it was a very human experience of the two Royal people who are well known,” Swezey said.

  

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