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BISHOP MARK STRANGE: 'To walk in procession into Westminster Abbey was humbling and deeply emotional,' says Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and Bishop Of Moray, Ross and Caithness as he reflects on the Queen's funeral

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Bishop Mark Strange at the service of thanksgiving for the life of The Queen held at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh and attended by members of the royal family including King Charles III.
Bishop Mark Strange at the service of thanksgiving for the life of The Queen held at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh and attended by members of the royal family including King Charles III.

On Thursday 8th September, life in this country changed, we began to discover what life would be like without Queen Elizabeth.

The news that Her Majesty had died was initially greeted by a people who reported being stunned.

I was putting the finishing touches to a wedding in the Cathedral when it became clear that things would suddenly have to change in a way that most in this country have never experienced.

Like many of you I was brought up with Queen Elizabeth on the throne: as a boy brought up on the outskirts of Aberdeen the queen always seemed to be around. Taking the train past our house then driving past or landing at Aberdeen harbour as she arrived aboard Britannia. We waved and we cheered as she headed to her holiday home and all was well.

In my later life as Bishop, the presence of the Queen in my life changed: royal events, invitations to Westminster Abbey and meetings at which members of the royal family were present.

The excitement that the arrival of an invitation to a garden party or to an event at which the Queen was present brought joy to so many people. I have often been regaled with anecdotes of people’s experiences of seeing the Queen, and the excitement is always evident.

Pictures: Remembering the Queen as she touched the hearts of thousands

Last week as the news began to spread, there was a real sense of people not really knowing what to do. It is at that moment that the importance of the rituals and ceremonies we are rightly proud of in this country come into their own.

The books of remembrance arrived at the Cathedral, King Charles was proclaimed at the Town House and all the while a slow procession through the national capital gave people a chance to pay respects.

Each hour of each day following her death something memorable happened that allowed people to grieve and to gather and offer words of comfort to each other.

I was overwhelmed to receive a request to read one of the passages in the service at St Giles, but even more overwhelmed by the crowds.

The good will of the people standing on the Royal Mile was palpable, the questions and the offers of prayer and then the silence as the coffin arrived at the Cathedral, the people of Scotland in mourning.

The Cathedral was a quiet place even with so many people inside, it wasn’t until the final moment as the coffin left on Tuesday afternoon that the silence was broken and people began to applaud as they said a final farewell to their Queen.

The funeral service was all we have learnt to expect, ritual, splendour and sadness. So many world leaders, so many people whose lives our Queen had touched. To walk in procession into the Abbey was humbling and deeply emotional.

Now Queen Elizabeth has laid down her crown as she desired: laid it down at the feet of God, the God that sustained her.

Am I sad? Yes she is no longer with us. Can I smile? Of course. For I believe she has gone home to be with the ones she loved and the God she served.

Thank you Your Majesty. My prayers are with your son. God save the King.

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