St Paul’s jubilee service a ‘slightly terrifying gig’, says Archbishop of York

Archbishop Stephen Cottrell said he is sad the Queen is unable to be at the cathedral in person.

03 June 2022

The Archbishop of York has said delivering the sermon at the service of thanksgiving to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is a “slightly terrifying gig”.

The Most Rev Stephen Cottrell has had to step in at the 11th hour after the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, contracted Covid 19.

Speaking before the service at St Paul’s Cathedral, Archbishop Cottrell said he was trying to treat it as just “another sermon”.

The Queen arrives to symbolically lead the lighting of the principal Jubilee beacon at Windsor Castle
The Queen arrives to symbolically lead the lighting of the principal jubilee beacon at Windsor Castle (Steve Parsons/PA)

“Obviously that’s my job, speaking about the Christian faith, preaching sermons,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Although this is a slightly terrifying gig I’ve been offered at short notice, from my knowledge of the Queen and when I’ve been with her before, indeed when I’ve preached in church when she’s there, the one thing I’m very confident of is she wants to hear about the Christian faith which is what has motivated her and sustained her throughout her life, throughout her reign.

“So I am just treating it as another sermon.

“It is slightly terrifying but it is a great honour.”

Archbishop Cottrell expressed disappointment the Queen would not be present after experiencing some “discomfort” following Thursday’s celebrations but said he was confident she would be following proceedings.

“I am really sad she is not here because I want to say some personal things to her, thanksgiving for what she has given to our nation, but I am sure she will be watching on the telly,” he said.

Mr Cottrell said that throughout her reign, the Queen was someone whose life was shaped by her Christian faith.

“The Queen doesn’t wear her faith on her sleeve, she wears it in her heart which is actually the best place to wear it. I see in the Queen somebody who lives out her faith each day, not necessarily talks about it all the time,” he said.

“I think what I have seen in the Queen is somebody who is so shaped by her Christian faith that, in small ways and large ways, she has simply tried to live that out.

“I think that has been a hugely impressive example right at the heart of our national life for 70 years.”

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