A Reflection from the Dean of the Chapel Royal
Published on 10 September 2022 3 minutes read
Very Rev Prof David Fergusson, Dean of the Chapel Royal, offers us this reflection on the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
It is with deep sadness that we have received news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and our first reaction is to offer prayers of thanksgiving for her life and reign and to offer prayers of comfort for those of the close family whose loss will be both personal and profound.
Coming to the throne, following the premature death of her father King George VI, the Princess Elizabeth was catapulted into an office which, from that moment on, she felt was a divine vocation embodying both duty to and responsibility for her people. From such an early age, no one could have taken the role more seriously and no one could have given more in a reign which has become the longest in the history of the British monarchy.
Much will be written of the highs and lows of Her Majesty's reign but those of us in the Church of Scotland who knew something of her life and responsibilities will remember most particularly that it was as a woman of deep conviction and Christian faith that she tackled the challenges of the changing times through which she lived.
Hers was a remarkable life which spanned her experience as a mechanic during the Second World War, her coronation, and subsequent reign. Living her life within the public gaze, she was the epitome of discretion, integrity and dignity, qualities that were universally recognised and admired across the nation, the Commonwealth, and the world.
In the Church of Scotland, we are particularly grateful for her commitment to the life of our Church both locally and nationally. On two occasions (1969 and 2002) Her Majesty graced the General Assembly with her presence. Every Sunday spent in Scotland, throughout her reign, she would be found in her pew at Canongate Kirk or more often in Crathie Kirk during her summers at Balmoral. Moderators and ministers, invited as guest preachers at Crathie, were welcomed as weekend guests at the Castle and made to feel like members of the family.
Queen Elizabeth II, however, was more than a generous host; well briefed about her guests she took a personal interest in their stories, put her guests at ease and well-remembered their concerns.
The Queen may have been the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, but she considered herself fully a member of the Church of Scotland when she was resident in Scotland and her interest in the life of the Kirk never diminished. Her annual letters addressed to the General Assembly revealed her detailed knowledge of the work which was being done within the Church and of its wider influence in society.
Year on year, she acknowledged, with gratitude to God, the Church's steadfast witness to the Christian faith and its services to the people of Scotland and in many lands overseas. Coming from the heart of one whose own faith was genuine, her communications were never formulaic but were offered sincerely; indeed, it was that same faith which sustained her throughout her time on the throne and which contributed so much to the steadfast qualities of her years as our Queen.
We rejoice in her life and in her reign and we give thanks for all that she has been to our Church and our nation. Today our prayers are with all of her children and their families, who with so many others mourn her passing.
In particular we hold in our prayers King Charles who ascends the throne and assumes the mantle so impeccably upheld by his mother.
A Book of Condolences is available on the Royal family website.