Throughout her reign, Her Majesty has been a rock at times of crisis and tension

Board president Marie van der Zyl pays tribute to HM Queen Elizabeth


WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 28: Queen Elizabeth II attends an audience with the President of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis (Not pictured) at Windsor Castle on April 28, 2022 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

As we celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, it’s a good time to note that the Board of Deputies has impeccable royalist credentials — indeed, the monarchy was actually the reason why we were founded.

The organisation was established in 1760 when seven Deputies were appointed by the elders of the Sephardi congregation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews to form a standing committee in order to pay homage to George III on his accession to the throne. We have been loyal to the crown and the Royal Family ever since, which is a reflection of the affection in synagogues around the country, manifested in the prayer for the Queen and the Royal Family, without which no Shabbat shul service would be complete.

It is fair to say that never has there been a more popular monarch than our present Queen. Since she ascended to the throne following the untimely death of her father, King George VI, Her Majesty has provided a wonderful example of continuity, wisdom, decency and respect for all her subjects. This has, at times, been the glue which has bound our country together.

At times of national crisis and international tensions, the Queen has been a rock for the nation — a reassuring presence bestriding the country, above political disputes, and a soothing voice for us all.

She has had a long history of involvement with the Jewish community. Due to its longevity and influence, the Board is considered a “privileged body”, with the ability to petition Her Majesty for an audience. My predecessor, Vivian Wineman, had occasion to do this in 2012 when the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. Vivian was delighted to be able to personally present Her Majesty with a celebratory greeting.

The Queen held a palace reception in 2006 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the resettlement of the Jewish community in this country in 1656, following the 1290 expulsion of the Jews. She has also carried out engagements for Norwood and the Council of Christians and Jews, two charities of which she is Patron. And in 1997, she unveiled a monument to Raoul Wallenberg, which was attended by Israeli President Ezer Weizman, as part of his State visit to Britain.

The Prince of Wales has enthusiastically followed his mother’s example in maintaining a close and respectful relationship with the Jewish community. We were privileged to have him as guest of honour at a dinner to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Board of Deputies. And in 2019 he called on the Board to help him in staging a reception to honour the Jewish community at Buckingham Palace. It was a telling sign of the high regard in which the Jewish community is held by the Queen and the entire Royal Family.

In turn, when His Royal Highness Prince Philip died last year, the Board of Deputies organised a condolence book in which the Jewish community was able to express the love and respect we had for him.

The Queen has not only been our longest-serving monarch but arguably our most popular one. Throughout her remarkable reign, the Queen has encouraged harmony and friendship across the many different communities and denominations of this country. She also embodies the finest qualities of our country — stability, solidity, reliability and supreme dignity.

This year’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations give us the opportunity to join the entire country in celebrating her magnificent 70 years of service to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.

We all hope there will be many more to come. As the Jewish saying goes, “Until 120, Your Majesty.”

Marie van der Zyl is the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews

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