Emeritus Dean of the Chapel Royal recalls memorable tale of Her Majesty The Queen
Published on 15 September 2022 1 minute read
Very Rev Professor Iain Torrance, the Emeritus Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland, has shared with us his and his late father's, both former Moderators, personal reflections of meeting Her Majesty The Queen during her reign.
"The Very Rev Professor Thomas F Torrance was my father and he was Moderator in 1976-77," he said.
"He was a great theologian but not at his best making conversation with people who weren't theologians.
"He was also forgetful when he became engrossed in something else and on more than one occasion he lost the Moderator's ring.
"When one of the losses was rather prolonged (he did find it again), the Principal Clerk had another ring made. I seem to remember that the cairngorm gem was carved in a workshop in Basle in Switzerland.
"After that, as a rule, my father wore the modern copy ring.
"When my father was staying at Balmoral with The Queen he thought he would tell her that a new ring had been made. The Queen listened intently and then said, ‘And Professor Torrance, which ring are you wearing now?' My father said, ‘The modern copy, Ma'am'. The Queen said, ‘When would you wear the historic ring?' My father immediately said, ‘Oh, I keep that for special occasions, Ma'am'. The Queen just smiled.
"When I was Moderator and the guest of The Queen at Balmoral more than 25 years later in 2003, she still remembered that exchange and still smiled about it."
There are 10 Royal Chaplains in Scotland and each normally holds office until the age of 70.
The chaplains, along with a physician, a surgeon, an apothecary, a sculptor, an astronomer, an historiographer and some others form part of His Majesty's household.
The King is also served by his two domestic Royal Chaplains, the ministers of Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh and Crathie Kirk near Balmoral Castle.
It is today largely a ceremonial honour with members of the Chapel Royal taking part in formal state occasions and conducting services at significant national events. They may also serve His Majesty The King as his personal spiritual advisers when he is in Scotland.