Platinum Jubilee: Queen confirmed to miss St Paul’s service
It has been announced that the Queen will not be in attendance at today’s Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral. The monarch made the decision to pull out of the service “with great reluctance”, having experienced “some discomfort” during her Trooping the Colour appearances on Thursday. Buckingham Palace issued a statement, which read: “The Queen greatly enjoyed today’s Birthday Parade and flypast but did experience some discomfort.
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“Taking into account the journey and activity required to participate in tomorrow’s national service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, Her Majesty with great reluctance has concluded that she will not attend.”
If she had attended, Her Majesty was expected to lead the nation and the congregation of key workers, charity volunteers and members of the Armed Forces, in a prayer to mark her Jubilee.
Bible readings, hymns and prayers to express gratitude for the Queen’s reign, faith and service will also be heard by the congregation as the nation marks the monarch’s 70 years on the throne.
Faith is extremely important to the monarch and holds great significance in the celebration of Jubilees.
As monarch, the Queen is Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
The Queen appeared on the Palace balcony on Thursday.
A Jubilee year is proclaimed after seven cycles of seven years, when slaves are set free and debts cancelled.
The concept was first appropriated by the British monarchy for George III’s Golden Jubilee in 1809, and has evolved into landmarks at 25, 50, 60 and now 70 years.
But one expert believes it is “often overlooked” in modern day celebrations.
Professor Philip Williamson from Durham University is a historian who specialises in religion and the monarchy in modern Britain.
Queen Elizabeth II is the first monarch to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee.
He said: “A leading feature of royal jubilees is often overlooked.
“They are religious occasions, with not only national thanksgiving services in London, but also innumerable thanksgivings in regional and local places of worship across the nation.”
He continued: “Jubilees are not only concerned with the monarchy, nor are they just occasions for holidays, processions, concerts, parties and memorabilia.
“They have been opportunities to express patriotic sentiments, celebrate national values and institutions, inspire good causes and promote social inclusion.”
Accession to the throne meant that the Queen became the supreme governor of the Church of England, and since then her public life has been inextricably shaped by religious occasions.
Perhaps most notable are her annual Christmas broadcasts, which have involved a more personal tone over the past two decades, specifically in reference to her own faith.
Her broadcast in 2000 was devoted to an account of Christ’s life and teaching which, she said, “provide a framework in which I try to lead my life”.
This first-hand commentary has continued ever since, with her broadcast last year including a nod to her religious devotion, with the monarch speaking about the birth of Jesus as a “new beginning”.
Her Majesty often references her own personal faith in her annual Christmas broadcasts.
Over the seven decades of the Queen’s reign, Britain has evolved from an overwhelmingly Christian society to a both multi-faith and secular one.
Her Majesty’s recent messages have referred to Britons of other faiths too, and in a landmark speech at the beginning of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the monarch described the Church of England as, in effect, an umbrella under which other faiths could shelter.
Professor Williamson claimed that the Jubilees of royal history have provided “a record of how the monarchy has responded to changes in the British nation.”
He said: “From being largely associated with the established churches, Jubilee thanksgivings have become inter-denominational and inter-faith occasions, involving not just the various Christian denominations but also the non-Christian faiths of Britain and the Commonwealth.
The Queen and Philip at St Paul’s Cathedral during celebrations for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
“In this, Jubilees have expressed the development of a more diverse and multicultural society.
“The monarchy has taken an important part in seeking to improve inter-faith relations, as part of its modern functions, to represent the communities of the nation and Commonwealth and to encourage closer social cohesion.”
Today’s Service of Thanksgiving will be broadcast live on BBC One and BBC iPlayer at 9.15am.