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Archbishop of Canterbury and other church leaders pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

08 September 2022


Queen Elizabeth with the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2015 for the inauguration of the tenth General Synod in Church House, Westminster

Queen Elizabeth with the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2015 for the inauguration of the tenth General Synod in Church House, Westminster

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has praised the “patient, humble, selfless” Christian service of the late Queen, as tributes poured in after her death on Thursday evening.

Buckingham Palace confirmed in a statement that the Queen had died peacefully at Balmoral. It followed an earlier statement that doctors had expressed concern for her health. She was 96.

Archbishop Welby said in a statement shortly after the announcement: “As we grieve together, we know that, in losing our beloved Queen, we have lost the person whose steadfast loyalty, service and humility has helped us make sense of who we are through decades of extraordinary change in our world, nation, and society.

“As deep as our grief runs, even deeper is our gratitude for Her Late Majesty’s extraordinary dedication to the United Kingdom, her Realms and the Commonwealth. Through times of war and hardship, through seasons of upheaval and change, and through moments of joy and celebration, we have been sustained by Her Late Majesty’s faith in what and who we are called to be.”

He recalled the “darkest days” of the pandemic. The Queen had “spoken powerfully of the light that no darkness can overcome. As she had done before, she reminded us of a deep truth about ourselves — we are a people of hope who care for one another.”

She had done so, even as she mourned her husband, the late Duke of Edinburgh, the Archbishop said, when she had shown “courage, resilience and instinct for putting the needs of others first — all signs of a deeply rooted Christian faith”.

He describes theirs as “an inspirational example of Christian marriage”.

As a “faithful Christian disciple” and the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the Queen had, the Archbishop said, “lived out her faith every day of her life. Her trust in God and profound love for God was foundational in how she led her life — hour by hour, day by day.

“In The Late Queen’s life, we saw what it means to receive the gift of life we have been given by God and — through patient, humble, selfless service — share it as a gift to others.”

The Queen had also found “great joy and fulfilment” in serving her people and her God, for which “we owe her a debt of gratitude beyond measure.”

Speaking personally, the Archbishop said: “Her clarity of thinking, capacity for careful listening, inquiring mind, humour, remarkable memory and extraordinary kindness invariably left me conscious of the blessing that she has been to us all. . .

“May Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II rest in peace and rise in glory.”

Archbishop Welby also prayed for the King and the Royal Family.

The Archbishop of York also remarked on the Queen’s “constant, faithful presence” in a statement. “The Queen’s gift to engage with everyone whom she met and the ability to make them feel at ease was a remarkable skill and one which showed a deep connection to the people she served and a desire to live out Jesus’ teaching.

“On the occasions I had the pleasure of meeting Her Majesty, I can testify to the warmth and joy she brought to every occasion. But most of all, it was the resolute reality of her faith that struck me powerfully.”

She “was not shy in speaking of her faith”, Archbishop Cottrell said. Her prayer in her first Christmas broadcast before her Coronation had been fulfilled: “that God would give her wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promise she would be making and to faithfully serve God and us all the days of her life”.

The Queen had left a remarkable legacy, he said. “Her service to our nation and Commonwealth has been exemplified by her devotion to her duty, which has always been offered with joy. Underpinning this has been her deep faith in God and in her we have witnessed God’s faithfulness at work.”

He ended by giving thanks to her “example, devotion and huge achievements”.

The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, and the Bench of Bishops, said in a statement that the news was received with great sadness. “We will all be mindful of the commitment she made on her twenty-first birthday in 1947, when she promised her whole life to the service of the people. It is a commitment from which she never flinched, and a service which she gave gladly. She endured through good times and bad, through celebrations and setbacks in the life of the nation.”

The Bishops were particularly thankful for her Christian witness. “She commended love for God and one’s neighbour, and her life was lived in a way which quietly prioritised a commitment to Christian worship on a Sunday, and a regime of daily prayer.

“Like so much of her life, this was performed without display, but sincerely and with great devotion. This is an example of faith which we will hold dear.”

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Mark Strange, remarked that the Queen was, for most people, the only monarch they had ever known. “The Queen came to the throne at a moment of great hope. A time of rebirth following the difficulties of war. She dedicated herself to the service of this country and she has honoured that pledge, especially so when things were difficult. She never wavered from her service.”

He, too, praised her steadfast and open faith, and of her fondness for Scotland. “Here in Scotland we know that the Queen found space to relax and to be amongst family and friends, we cherish the knowledge that she loved this place as much as we do. That knowledge brought a shared connection that many of us felt deeply. . .

“Her Majesty understood and believed in the promises of God. In her many statements over the years, she spoke always of moving forward, serving the country that she loved, and giving thanks to God for the life she lived.”

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Revd Dr Iain Greenshields, said that her “faith, service and dedication” had been the “hallmark of her long reign. She has been the steady constant in the life of our nation. . . Tireless in her duty, the Queen has demonstrated a life of selfless dedication. Her love for her family was mirrored in her love for our nation and the wider Commonwealth.

“The Church of Scotland has valued Her Late Majesty’s generous support, and seen in her private devotion someone for whom faith remained central throughout her long life. We send our heartfelt condolences to the King, and all members of the Royal Family, assuring them of our prayers and best wishes in the days ahead.”

The Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd John McDowell, said that little more could be said than the words written by Winston Churchill on hearing of the death of Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI.

“If the old statesman could claim that the young Queen was well known to her people then, how much more can we say so now, who have watched and admired as her steady hand, her searching eyes and her warm smile graced so many occasions of great significance in the life of the United Kingdom.”

All deaths were inevitable, he said, but few were as unimaginable as that of the Queen. “She has been on the throne and the stage of public life longer than any person, living or dead. The burden of such a life was rarely visible.”

The Queen had lived through the “unparalleled and unforgiving scrutiny” of the monarchy, which she had weathered “with unfailing dignity and cheerfulness”.

He spoke of her many visits to Northern Ireland and her affection, too, for Ireland as a whole. He thanked God for her faithfulness.

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