The Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell lauds Her Majesty’s dedication to “duty and service” and how “the Christian faith is her anchor”.
And he also highlights the importance of “knowing and doing what is right” – and “especially those of us in public life”.
The eighth Archbishop of York during the Queen’s 70-year reign, the last remark will be interpreted as a veiled criticism of Boris Johnson’s response to the ‘partygate’ scandal.
Most notably, the Queen sat in solitary isolation at Prince Philip’s funeral last April, observing strict Covid rules on social distancing, just hours after a raucous staff party at Downing Street that is one of 12 gatherings being probed by the police.
The 95-year-old is staying at Sandringham where she traditionally marks the anniversary of her accession to the throne. It is where her father, King George VI, died peacefully on February 6, 1952.
Tomorrow’s landmark will be tinged with even more poignancy because Philip, her husband of 73 years, was invariably at his happiest when staying at the Norfolk estate.
And the Royal residence inspired the Archbishop’s special tribute. “A few years ago, I had the slightly scary, but hugely enjoyable, honour of staying with Her Majesty the Queen at Sandringham,” he writes in The Yorkshure Post.
“On Sunday morning she went to church, as she always does. I preached the sermon, which was then discussed over lunch.
“We also talked about family. Hers and mine. And hobbies. For her, horses, a subject about which she knows a great deal and I knew very little indeed. A bit of a one-sided conversation, that one! In the evening, after another lovely dinner, we watched television and did a jigsaw together.”
The Archbishop says the occasion helped him to better understand the Queen’s enduring qualities. “There were others there, too, but over the course of the weekend I had the privilege of beginning to get to know the Queen as a person and what matters to her and what makes her tick,” he continues.
“This is what I found. First, like all of us, family matters. Friends matter. But also, faith matters and the values that flow from it.
“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.
“Duty and service are sometimes referred to as old-fashioned values. I’m not sure this is helpful. It lets us off the hook, as if they belong to another age and can be left behind. We think this at our peril. All of us should live lives that serve the common good.”
He concludes: “All of us should demonstrate a proper sense of duty: knowing and doing what is right. Especially those of us in public life. As we enter the 70th year of the Queen’s reign, it is worth remembering this. And giving thanks.”
Locally, a service of Choral Evensong will be held at Bradford Cathedral tomorrow at 3.30pm to mark the historic occasion. City centre buildings will also be lit up blue.
Meanwhile nation’s faith leaders have voiced their support for beacons which will be lit in tribute on the Platinum Jubilee weekend.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the fires, which will light up the night sky across the UK and Commonwealth on June 2, will remind everyone of “our common bond under the Crown”.
His words were echoed by senior clerics from eight faith communities – Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Zoroastrian and Bahai – who all congratulated the monarch as she reaches her 70-year reign milestone.
Leeds iman Qari Asim, chair of the Mosque and Imams National Advisory Board, said: “Her Majesty the Queen has been a wonderful beacon of hope, integrity, stability and unity for our country and beyond. May the Lord allow this momentous occasion of the Platinum Jubilee to provide unity, peace and hope across our wonderful nation.”
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