The Daily Telegraph

‘No fear of death’ Welby’s parting impression of Her Majesty

- Gabriella Swerling

Queen Elizabeth II had “no fear of death”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said, as he recalled their final meeting.

The Most Rev Justin Welby met the late Queen, who was the Supreme Head of the Church of England and a devout Christian, for the last time in June. The pair met on a number of occasions, with the last time being in June when she was presented with a special Canterbury Cross for her “unstinting service” to the Church of England over the last 70 years. Her Majesty held a face-to-face audience with the Archbishop at Windsor Castle.

Recalling that time, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “I came away thinking, there is someone who has no fear of death, has hope in the future, knows the rock on which she stands, and that gives her the strength, as it gives His Majesty the strength, to be that sense of permanence, and of continuity.”

He added: “You felt that history was in front of you, but it was history with those piercingly blue eyes twinkling, that extraordin­ary smile and the relishing of a quick, dry comment.” Her attitude was “It’s not about me; it’s about what I have been called … by God to do.”

As the monarch, the position of the late Queen of supreme governor of the Church of England now passes to the King. The Archbishop said that churches and cathedrals around the country would open their doors during the period of national mourning and invite people to sign books of condolence and light a candle, and that from noon on Friday, church bells will ring in commemorat­ion of her. Meanwhile, at Windsor Castle, the Sebastopol bell will toll once a minute from midday to mark the 96 years of the Queen’s life.

Tributes to Her Majesty have continued to be paid by religious leaders after she died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands, aged 96, on Thursday.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminste­r, is leading a service in honour of the Queen at 5.30pm today at Westminste­r Cathedral.

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