Archbishop of Canterbury reflects on late Queen and King Charles’s ability to bring ‘healing’

·3-min read
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby at a special service at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Picture date: Sunday September 11, 2022. (PA Wire)
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby at a special service at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Picture date: Sunday September 11, 2022. (PA Wire)

The new King has the ability to bring “healing” to people just as his late mother did, the Archbishop of Canterbury said during a service on Sunday.

The Most Rev Justin Welby delivered a sermon at Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday morning, acknowledging that many people will be “navigating their way around the raw and ragged edges of grief”.

At the start of the service, which started about an hour after the Queen’s coffin left Balmoral to begin its journey to her final resting place, he said it is an “unexpectedly extraordinary Sunday”.

The service ended with a rendition of God Save The King.

During his sermon, the Archbishop said those who met the Queen were “always struck by her ability to make them feel as though they were the most important, the only person in the room, the only person in the street, in the crowd”.

He continued: “King Charles III has the same ability to see the value of each person as God sees them.

“That is his conscious understanding of people.”

Mr Welby recalled seeing Charles work his way around the Lady Chapel in Liverpool Cathedral, where there were families of police officers who had died.

He said Charles spoke to an officer’s young widow, adding: “By the time the then-prince of Wales – His Majesty – had done the rounds, he’d talked to everyone in that chapel and every person there, and I quote that young widow, felt they mattered uniquely and found healing.”

The Archbishop recalled the Queen inviting a Rwandan woman, who had escaped the genocide but lost almost her entire family, to sit next to her at the end of a lunch.

They spoke for at least 20 minutes while some of her staff “hovered, twitching”.

Reflecting on how the woman felt, Mr Welby told worshippers: “When I spoke to her later, she said there was healing.”

He added: “Both Her late Majesty and His Majesty treat others as special because, for both, their faith is built on the same rock – the rock of Christ.”

Mr Welby talked about grief and how this may be a difficult time for people mourning the loss of loved ones.

“We are not complete when one of us is lost,” he said.

“Many people will be navigating their way around the raw and ragged edges of grief today all because of the Queen.

“But many families, as well, will have lost loved ones or been reminded of the loss of loved ones this week.

“Their grief may well feel all the more painful during this time of national and international mourning, for loss is overwhelming to the person bereaved.”

Mr Welby referenced the Queen choosing to “extend the hand of friendship to Martin McGuinness despite their differences and painful history”.

The encounter between the former Irish Republican Army (IRA) commander and the Queen in 2012 was symbolic as the IRA murdered her second cousin-once-removed, Lord Mountbatten, who was also Philip’s uncle, in a bombing on his boat in Co Sligo in 1979.

Concluding his sermon, Mr Welby said: “This is a moment of deep grief, indeed. As Her Majesty said herself, grief is the price we pay for love.

“But that love has in it the reality of hope that can lift heavy hearts, heal wearied spirits, for it is love that originates in God.

“All that is lost will be found again, as surely as Christ Jesus was raised from the dead and defeated death.

“And he will gather us all together in heaven on the glorious day of resurrection, where in a different context, as Her late Majesty once said to us in difficult times, we will meet again.”