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The Queen has been presented in person with a special Canterbury Cross for her “unstinting service” to the Church of England over the last 70 years.
The 96-year-old head of state held a face-to-face audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Windsor Castle on Tuesday.
The Most Rev Justin Welby gave the Queen the small silver cross, inspired by a 9th century Saxon brooch and incorporating a triquetra pattern, as a “heartfelt symbol” of the church’s “love, loyalty and affection”.
It was a tribute to her outstanding service to the Church of England, and in honour of her Platinum Jubilee.
The Queen, wearing her glasses and dressed in a cream dress decorated with a pattern of large pink flowers, was photographed standing as she was shown the cross.
The monarch, who is facing ongoing mobility issues, shook hands with the archbishop, who wore purple clerical robes, as he entered the Oak Room sitting room in the Berkshire castle.
Presented in a vivid red box and attached to a blue ribbon, the cross was specially crafted for its royal recipient with platinum inserts in recognition of her milestone 70 years on the throne.
The Queen, who has a deep Christian faith, is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and Defender of the Faith.
In the citation for the cross, which was also given to the Queen as a framed piece of calligraphy, the archbishop praised the monarch and hailed “her care for the unity of her people and the welfare of the least fortunate” as a “constant inspiration to the whole church”.
The Queen’s life was “an example of a Christian life well led,” he said.
The citation read: “Throughout her reign, Her Majesty has duly upheld both the Christian religion and the Church of England in her roles as Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
“Whether in the formality of opening sessions of General Synod or the more intimate context of her personal addresses to the nation and Commonwealth at Christmas, Her Majesty has made manifest her own deep faith and its relevance to all that she undertakes.
“Her subtle understanding of the changing position of the Established Church in England has sustained and encouraged laity and clergy alike.
“Her care for the unity of her people and the welfare of the least fortunate have been a constant inspiration to the whole Church. Hers is an example of the Christian life well led.
“This presentation of the Canterbury Cross is a heartfelt symbol of the love, loyalty and affection in which the Church of England holds Her Majesty and it represents the recognition and gratitude of her whole Church for her seventy years of unstinting service. God Save The Queen!”
The Canterbury Cross is presented each year as part of the annual Lambeth Awards to a small number of recipients who have shown outstanding service to the church.
The cross’s design is inspired by a Saxon brooch which was found in Canterbury in 1867 and dates from around 850AD.
It incorporates the motif of a triquetra pattern: a three-cornered knot, symbolising the Christian Trinity, on each of its four curved arms.
The tips of the arms suggest arcs of a single circle, giving the overall effect of a round wheel.
The calligraphic citation was produced by Margot Riordan-Eva, Lambeth Palace’s calligrapher, who was taught calligraphy by Benedictine nuns at school.
The Queen had a busy start to June as the nation celebrated her jubilee during a four-day weekend of festivities.