The minister of St Giles’ Cathedral in Scotland has said it was a “great honour” to speak “on behalf of the nation” at the Queen’s thanksgiving service.
The Rev Calum MacLeod told of his pride in playing a role in recognising Elizabeth II’s 70 years of service at the ancient cathedral in Edinburgh on Monday.
Members of the royal family, including King Charles III and the Queen Consort, gathered at the remembrance service in Scotland’s capital after the Queen’s coffin travelled up the Royal Mile to St Giles’ Cathedral following her death last week, aged 96.
Mr MacLeod told the mourners the ceremony was “Scotland’s farewell to our late monarch, whose life of service to the nation and the world we celebrate and whose love for Scotland was legendary”.
Speaking after the thanksgiving service, he said: “It was poignant, meaningful and a great honour to be the person who gets this chance to say a few words on behalf of the nation with thanksgiving for the Queen’s life and service.”
Mr MacLeod, who met the Queen on a number of occasions, including at preachings at St Giles’ and Crathie Kirk near Balmoral, said the public response had taken people’s breaths away, with crowds eight-deep on the Royal Mile prior to the service.
Thousands of people queued to pay their respects in the cathedral as the Queen lay in rest for 24 hours.
Mr MacLeod said: “The people of Scotland have come out to pay their respects and that has been a lovely thing to be a part of.
“It is a great honour for us to host the vigil for the Queen and welcome so many people from around the world into the cathedral.”
He has been a minister at St Giles’ since 2014 and said he had worked very closely with the Dean of the Chapel Royal, Professor David Fergusson, the Queen’s chief chaplain in Scotland, on the Scottish nature of the service.
It included the Gaelic psalm sung by Karen Matheson, best known as the lead singer of the folk group Capercaillie.
Mr MacLeod said: “It was very much our sense that we wanted to reflect the tradition of the Church of Scotland in the service because we all know the Queen loved Scotland so much and was a member of the Church of Scotland.”