Latter-day Saint Life

Queen Elizabeth II: 7 times Latter-day Saints interacted with Her Majesty

Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson bows as he meets Queen Elizabeth II at a British Embassy reception in Washington on Oct. 18, 1957.
Associated Press

Her reign began when David O. McKay was president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—70 years later, Queen Elizabeth II has passed away at Balmoral Castle in Scotland.

Queen Elizabeth was a woman of faith who looked to Jesus Christ’s example. As she said in her 2015 Christmas message, “Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another.”

President Thomas S. Monson commended the Queen in 2012 for “her love of God, her acts of charity, and her sublime example of service and duty.”

Six months ago, in celebration of her Platinum Jubilee, the European Area Presidency of the Church shared a tribute sent through the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Edward Young. The tribute read in part, “During the past 70 years Her Majesty … has faced and overcome challenges with fortitude. … Yet despite challenging times often on a global scale, she continued to set such a wonderful example of service and devotion, of dignity, and decency. She has shown immense care for people of all nationalities, faiths, and ages.”

Over the decades of her service and devotion, the Queen had many brushes with members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here is a look back on a few.

Two Copies of the Book of Mormon

During the peak of their popularity, the Osmond family traveled to London and were able to meet the Queen. Jimmy Osmond told KSL’s Carole Mikita that on that occasion, Olive Osmond, the mother of the Osmond family, gave Queen Elizabeth a copy of the Book of Mormon and said, “I want to give you my most treasured possession.”

Years later, Jimmy performed for Her Majesty again with his brothers, and he recalled that the Queen stopped him and said, “I remember your mother, and I still have … your Mormon Bible.”

The Osmonds meet Queen Elizabeth II.

But that wasn’t the only Book of Mormon Queen Elizabeth is reported to have received. In 1987, in conjunction with British Latter-day Saints’ celebration of the Church’s 150th anniversary in the British Isles, regional representatives Arch J. Turley and Kenneth Johnson, along with Wendell J. Ashton, president of the England London Mission, visited Buckingham Palace and gave Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher each a copy of the Book of Mormon, a copy of the then-new pocket edition of the four standard works, and a letter of greeting from the First Presidency.

In 1841, an almost identical gift was given to Queen Victoria by Lorenzo Snow on behalf of Brigham Young. Queen Victoria’s copy had a gold inscription that read, “To Queen Victoria, 1841,” and on the back, “Presented by Brigham Young.” Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher’s copies had their own names engraved and read, “Presented by Ezra Taft Benson.”

Photo with a Future Prophet

During his time as United States Secretary of Agriculture, President Ezra Taft Benson met with her majesty at the British Embassy reception on Oct. 18, 1957. A photo (see lead image) immortalizes this moment between the Queen and the future Latter-day Saint prophet.

A Stake President at the Queen’s Party

In 1976, John H. Cox, who was then president of the London England Stake, was invited to a royal garden party on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. He shared in the Ensign his impressions of the reverence surrounding the Queen’s entrance at the party.

“For me, the most impressive moment of that event was the entrance of the queen herself. The hubbub of the guests immediately subsided, and as she stood on the terrace, with the bands playing “God Save the Queen,” there was a reverence present that pervaded the entire assembly. I had heard the national anthem many times in my life, but this was the first time in the actual presence of the monarch. The occasion had a special poignancy. I was inspired, and I prayed for the welfare of my country and its leader.”

The Queen’s Gold Medal

In 2008, a young Latter-day Saint named Christopher Vingoe was given the Queen’s Gold Medal for Academic Achievement after overcoming severe brain injuries from a car accident to excel in school. “She was lovely and very easy to chat to,” said Christopher, who soon thereafter served a mission in Leeds, England. He said he even had a chance to talk with her about missionary service.

As a 6-year-old, Christopher spent five days in a coma and had a blood clot in his brain. The New Era reported that when Queen Elizabeth was told about Christopher’s accident and how he had recovered, she joked, “Perhaps it knocked some sense into him.”

BYU–Hawaii Graduate Honored by the Queen

In 2016, Easter Takafa Niko, a graduate of BYU–Hawaii and a former missionary in the Oakland/San Francisco California Mission, was honored for his efforts to raise more than $300,000 from private donors to improve the quality of education in the small Pacific island of Tuvalu, where he was raised. Tuvalu is part of the British Commonwealth.

Easter Tekafa Niko receives award from the Queen.
Courtesy of Newsroom

Niko told Deseret News, “It was a fabulous experience. The highlight was definitely meeting the Queen. I wasn’t expecting her to be so personable, but she took time to ask about me, my project, and the people of Tuvalu. She was really sweet.”

2021 Royal Mail Stamps

Most recently, Latter-day Saint Jorge Cocco Santángelo, an 85-year-old artist and convert to the Church from Argentina, was selected as the featured artist for Great Britain’s 2021 Royal Mail Christmas stamp collection, a stamp tradition that began in 1966. According to the artist’s website, the Queen approves all of the stamp designs before they are released publicly.

Jorge Cocco Santángelo's contribution to the Royal Mail Christmas stamp collection in 2021, which was approved by the Queen.

“It is a great honor to have been selected as the artist for Royal Mail’s Christmas 2021 stamp collection,” Cocco said at the time. “However, this is not about me, it is rather about Christ. I feel humble that I could collaborate in the spreading of the ministry of Christ [and] … His birth. To me, it is a responsibility and satisfaction to be able to contribute to such an important message for humanity: Jesus the Christ was born, and He lives.”

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