The Queen’s role as “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England”, was both an important element of her role as Monarch and a deeply personal part of her life. Her Majesty spoke openly on many occasions of the strength she took from her Christian faith, and often turned to the teachings of the Bible at difficult moments in her own life and the life of the Nation. She respected all faiths, seeing them as a force for good in the world, and a way of bringing communities together. (


Following the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II last month, churches across the Diocese of Southwark responded to this major event in the life of our nation by living out Her Late Majesty’s belief in faith as a way of bringing communities together and, in doing so, both honouring her life and ministering to their parishes.


Parishes along the Southbank of the River Thames, now temporarily home to The Queue and, by extension, a huge number of visitors, found themselves with unique opportunity to provide support. Revd Canon Gary Jenkins, Vicar of St James, Bermondsey, said ‘With so many people passing through the parish it seemed important to go and meet some of them. We were taken aback with the response from the people in The Queue who were delighted that people from the local church were there to meet them.’ Gary also wrote a post on his blog, which you can read at


As The Queue progressed along the river it passed Southwark Cathedral which provided, in the words of The Dean, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, ‘somewhere quiet to go, somewhere reflective’. The Bishop of Southwark, The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun was able to support The Queue’s Chaplaincy Service each day as it passed the Cathedral.

Bishop Christopher, when asked on BBC News about the opportunity for a time of national reflection noted ‘It brings to the surface all our loss. The price of love is grief, as The Queen herself said, and there is a deep sense of national loss.’ Watch the full piece below

The days following The Queen’s death also gave the opportunity to fondly remember the moments which gave us a glimpse into Her Late Majesty’s character and sense of humour, as Bishop Christopher highlighted when telling the BBC’s Sally Nugent about The Queen encountering a sleeping Southwark Cathedral cat when she visited to view the window installed to mark her Diamond Jubilee.


A little further along the Southbank, Christ Church, Blackfriars took the opportunity, like the Cathedral, to provide a space for reflection.

Pioneer Rector at Christ Church, Revd Ian Mobsby, also joined the multi-faith chaplaincy team, organised by Lambeth Palace.

‘Christ Church and its parish on the river Thames had been part of Operation London Bridge to support the many queuing to pay their respects on the death of the Monarch and the Lying in State. We never imagined that there would be so many people needing support, with tens of thousands of people queuing for very long hours passing through the parish. Both John Henry, Curate and I as the Interim Pioneer Rector felt it was only right to support and encourage these committed queuers with being part of a multi-faith chaplaincy to The Queue to practice presence and support as a key commitment to being parish priests. Additionally, we kept the church open to give people room to process their emotions spiritually. Personally, I think British people process their emotions at national moments like this, and many grieved their sense of loss of continuity of the Monarch with the traumas of Covid-19, bereavements and now the cost of living crisis. Supporting people in times of deep national lament are important.’


Away from The Queue we saw parishes finding other ways to encourage togetherness and provide support.

Revd Betsy Blatchley, Pioneer Minister in the Arts in Nine Elms, said: “Nine Elms Arts Ministry is a Fresh Expression of Church with no physical building. We wanted to offer residents in Nine Elms who might not go into a church or civic building or travel to Buckingham Palace, the chance to mark the momentous moment of the Queen’s death in a simple and accessible way. We set up a pop-up space outside Battersea Power Station tube, which is also a busy thoroughfare for those using the cafes and bars at BPS, and provided small cards and pens and simply invited people to write a message in relation to the Queen’s death or the name of someone else they had lost. Then to light a (battery) Tea Light as a moment of quiet reflection. The installation that developed was very moving and it offered a space for people to gather and ‘be community’ at a key moment, in an area with very limited space for such gathering.”


Many churches, like St Mark, Surbiton, took the opportunity to provide a space for the funeral to be live-streamed.

In Kew, Vicar of St Luke’s Revd Melanie Harrington led a prayer service at a local care home, and spoke of the residents’ desire that the Queen was ‘remembered and recognised’.


In keeping with centuries old tradition, many churches rang muffled bells following the announcement of Her Late Majesty’s death, and before the funeral.

While St Mary, Putney’s tower captain Paula (and faithful tally counter and husband Neil) took on the responsibility in their church, at St Catherine, Hatcham, the church and community gathered to share in the task. Vicar of St Catherine, Revd Sheridan James, said “Telegraph Hill is a very diverse community, so response to the death of the Queen was varied. We looked for ways to engage everyone from card-carrying royalists to those simply interested in marking an historic moment. Tolling the bell seemed the perfect vehicle and in the end 30 people gathered to have a go, half from the church congregation and half from the local community. It was a wonderfully diverse group of people in terms of age, backgrounds and nationalities represented – from South African to Welsh! Being together, physically, still feels special after the Covid years and we all talked and shared memories and emotions. Some were about the Queen, some were about our connection to St Catherine’s, some were reflections on life. It was fun, holy and healing. It felt like we were building bonds of peace. Something HM the Late Queen would be proud of I think.”


Further south in The Diocese of Southwark, The Bishop of Croydon, Rt Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett, signed Croydon’s book of condolence and attended a Civic Service of Commemoration & Thanksgiving, which processed to Croydon Clocktower – opened as an arts and museum complex by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994.



“I know just how much I rely on my own faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning, I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God.

Like others of you who draw inspiration from your own faith, I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel.” Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Christmas broadcast 2002


We hope that, like Her Late Majesty, you too can find strength in the Gospel message of hope.