Top leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints praised Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday, as a “noble monarch…who presided through seven decades, in times of peace and conflict, plenty and struggle, and did so with characteristic grace and goodness.”
In a news release, the governing First Presidency expressed “admiration and respect for the queen” and extended “sincere condolences to her family and her people at this tender time.”
Hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saints have been British subjects, whether in the United Kingdom or other Commonwealth nations, including Canada and Australia.
England was a hub for early converts to the U.S.-born faith in the 19th century, with its first Latter-day Saint congregation established in 1837. Tens of thousands of these Latter-day Saints came to Utah, bringing their traditions and sensibilities to the Beehive State. One of the church’s earliest non-American temples was built 25 miles south of London.
Through the decades of Elizabeth’s reign, she met future Latter-day Saint prophet-president Ezra Taft Benson, according to LDS Living, Jimmy Osmond performed for her and his mother gave her a Book of Mormon. The art of Argentine Latter-day Saint Jorge Cocco Santángelo also was featured in Royal Mail Christmas stamps last year.
In recent years, however, the church’s membership in Great Britain has stagnated and even shrunk.
In June, leaders disbanded the Lichfield Stake, a cluster of congregations that had been under that umbrella since 1977. It marked the first time in church history that a stake had been discontinued in the United Kingdom.
Elizabeth’s leadership “is exemplary and inspirational,” the church’s Europe Area presidency wrote in March for her platinum jubilee. “Dedication to duty has been part of her DNA.”
The three expressed their appreciation for the queen’s “wonderful example of service and devotion, of dignity, and decency. She has shown immense care for people of all nationalities, faiths and ages. She recognizes and promotes the benefits of families, friends and communities working together. She retains a powerful sense of hope and optimism for the next generation.”
In its message Thursday, the First Presidency noted that all the condolences that were pouring in from around the world represent “a loving tribute… from those who loved her and who mourn with her family and the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.”
In such moments, Latter-day Saint leaders said, “we feel gratitude for the goodness of an exemplary life and rejoice in the hope of a glorious resurrection, made possible through the loving sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.”