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Church leaders congratulate Queen on 70th anniversary of accession to throne

07 February 2022

Welby supports Queen’s wish that the Duchess of Cornwall will become Queen Consort


To mark the Platinum Jubilee of the Queen on Sunday, Hartlepool Council commissioned a special illumination of the historic St Hilda’s, Hartlepool Headland

To mark the Platinum Jubilee of the Queen on Sunday, Hartlepool Council commissioned a special illumination of the historic St Hilda’s, Hartlepool Hea...

THE Archbishop of Canterbury joined other religious leaders in congratulating the Queen on the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne, on Sunday. He also expressed support for the Queen’s stated wish that the Duchess of Cornwall would take on the role of Queen Consort when Prince Charles becomes King.

“I think the bishop has something tasteful and low-key in mind”

Archbishop Welby was among 20 leaders — including the Bishop of London, the Archbishop of Wales, and the RC Archbishop of Westminster, across nine religions — to encourage their communities to celebrate by lighting beacons in her honour on the first evening of the four-day Jubilee Weekend, which begins on 2 June. The Jubilee Beacons are being organised across the UK and Commonwealth as part of the official programme of events to pay tribute to the Queen.

Archbishop Welby said on Sunday: “This will be a moment of remarkable celebration, as we join together across different generations, denominations, faiths and communities all over the world in proper tribute to Her Majesty the Queen.

“My prayer is that this might be a chance to truly celebrate Her Majesty’s historic 70 years of service to her country and the Commonwealth, reaching out in friendship, and building community as we are reminded of our common bond under the Crown.”

The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, also encouraged church choirs in Wales to join in the celebrations by singing the “Song for the Commonwealth” at 9:45 p.m. on the 2 June, which is when the jubilee beacons are due to be lit. “This is a marvellous opportunity for disparate nations, communities, faiths, and generations to join together in common fellowship and thank her Majesty for the 70 years of service and leadership she has given to millions across the world,” he said. “Let us lift our voices as one to honour both our Queen and the God she has served with such faith and diligence.”

Other religious leaders who have supported the beacons include the General Secretary of Churches Together in England, the Revd Dr Paul Goodliff; the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis; and the General Secretary of the Hindu Council UK, Rajnish Kashyap.

Sunday marked 70 years since the Queen acceded to the throne on the death of her father, King George VI. She has gone on to reign longer than any other British monarch in history.

In a letter published on Sunday, she thanked the public and her family for their support, including the unselfish “sacrifices” made by her late husband Prince Philip in the role of consort. It was her “sincere wish”, she said, that the Duchess of Cornwall “will be known as Queen Consort” when Prince Charles becomes King.

“As we mark this anniversary, it gives me pleasure to renew the pledge I gave in 1947 that my life will always be devoted to your service,” she wrote.

“As I look ahead with a sense of hope and optimism to the year of my Platinum Jubilee, I am reminded of how much we can be thankful for. These last seven decades have seen extraordinary progress socially, technologically and culturally that have benefitted us all; and I am confident that the future will offer similar opportunities to us and especially to the younger generations in the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth.”

The Queen remained, she said, “eternally grateful for, and humbled by, the loyalty and affection” of the public. “And when, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.”

She concluded: “And so as I look forward to continuing to serve you with all my heart, I hope this Jubilee will bring together families and friends, neighbours and communities — after some difficult times for so many of us — in order to enjoy the celebrations and to reflect on the positive developments in our day-to-day lives that have so happily coincided with my reign.”

Responding in his own letter of congratulations on Sunday, Prince Charles wrote: “The Queen’s devotion to the welfare of all her people inspires still greater admiration with each passing year.

“We are deeply conscious of the honour represented by my mother’s wish. As we have sought together to serve and support Her Majesty and the people of our communities, my darling wife has been my own steadfast support throughout.”

In a statement issued on Sunday, Archbishop Welby “warmly” welcomed the Queen’s wish that the Duchess of Cornwall would take on the role of Queen Consort. He also described the Queen’s 70 years of service as “a symbol of stability and hope throughout the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and the world”.

He continued: “As we mark the anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the throne, we give thanks for her dedication to us all, and her faithful witness to Jesus Christ. Let us pray that God would continue to guide her, and bless her with continued health and wisdom, as we celebrate together the beginning of her Platinum Jubilee year.”

In an interview with the BBC on Saturday, Archbishop Welby said that the clearest example of the Queen’s leadership had been at the funeral of her late husband Prince Philip last year (News, 17 April 2021), at which she sat alone, owing to strict national coronavirus restrictions at the time. The Archbishop, who conducted the funeral, along with the Dean of Windsor, the Rt Revd David Conner, said: “That was leadership, it was doing the right thing, it was duty, it set an example.”

He continued: “She takes her duties seriously, but she doesn’t take herself very seriously. She laughs in private; she has an absolutely superb sense of humour.”

Archbishop Welby also likened her reign to a religious vocation. “The coronation service is a form of ordination, in a liturgical sense, and she lives that out without a grumble. It is priestly — the language, the structure, it’s very similar to an ordination of a priest or a bishop.”

In an article published in The Yorkshire Post on Saturday, the Archbishop of York wrote: “The Queen may not say much about her faith in public (though her Christmas messages often refer to faith), but it is evident in the way she lives her life that the Christian faith is her anchor. In fact, the duty and service she offers to the nation make no sense without her faith.”

Matins to mark the anniversary was broadcast from Westminster Abbey on Sunday. It is available to listen to on BBC Sounds.

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