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I was aware of the privilege being offered when I received an invitation to attend the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey on Monday. The sense of privilege was corporate as I was invited to represent the Methodist people in an event that had not happened for over seventy years – the funeral of a monarch. I just hoped that I wouldn’t trip up or do anything to cause embarrassment!

The invitation included a request to attend a rehearsal in the Abbey on Saturday afternoon. As this was within hours of the audience with the King Charles III my wife and I abandoned our plans for the weekend and accepted the hospitality of generous friends in London.

The rehearsal was a fascinating experience as Faith Leaders were admitted to various parts of the Abbey. Some of us had met for the first time the day before and friendships were now being forged.

The security requirements meant that, on Monday, I had to be up and on my way whilst it was still dark. Dawn had broken by the time I got to Victoria Tower Gardens and queued with others in order to gain access before 8a.m. There was then a lot of sitting around and opportunity for more conversation.

At 10.10a.m. we began making our way into the Abbey and were seated before the high altar. We were able to see and hear all that was happening. What an experience it was!

When it was all over, I was asked if I had been moved by the experience. My immediate reply was that I hadn’t because there was much to focus on and care to be taken. And yet, the more I think about it, the more emotional I feel. I am moved that:

  • the Methodist Church was invited to be represented and I just happen to be the President of Conference this year.
  • we were surrounded by the Royal Family, Heads of State and foreign dignitaries who were there to honour our Queen.
  • the whole occasion was enveloped in prayer.
  • the Archbishop of Canterbury preached a short but powerful sermon.
  • the music was both meticulous and marvellous.
  • we were able to sing ‘Love divine, all loves excelling’ and express the joy of resurrection hope.
  • the skill and care of the pall bearers.
  • people thanked us for ‘turning up’!

More than anything, I was (and am still) moved by the playing of a lament on the bagpipes at the end of the service. It confirmed that the Queen has left us. Also that, one day, we will do the same, for not even those of royal estate can escape an earthly death. But, like the Queen, we are invited to receive the gift of eternal life if we will put our trust in Jesus our Saviour. This is what our sister Elizabeth did. We should do the same.


Loving God, we thank you for the life, faith and example of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We thank you that she put her faith in you through Jesus who lived, died and rose again for love of us all. As we remember and give thanks, grant each of us the gift of faith that we too might know the joy of resurrection hope. We ask this in Name of Jesus our Saviour. Amen.

The Revd Graham Thompson, President of the Methodist Conference, 2022-2023