Queen Elizabeth was the “most wonderful example of Christian life and Christian death”, Most Rev Justin Welby said as he paid tribute to the monarch during the Sunday service in Canterbury.
“It has been said very often in the last few days, but it bears repeating that in her life and her example, God graciously gave us the most wonderful example of a Christian life and a Christian death.”
Archbishop Justin joined hundreds of churches across the nation in holding services of prayer and remembrance for Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III.
He said her late Majesty “taught as much, if not more about God and grace, both in words and the actions that reinforced them, than any other contemporary figure”.
“We remember her not for what she had, but for what she gave.
“What a precious blessing. How precious she was therefore to us, and how keenly we feel her loss.”
Following his reading from a passage in Luke, Welby reflected on the loss and grief people might be feeling at this time, especially those who have lost loved ones recently.
“Many people will be navigating their way around the raw and ragged edges of grief today, all because of the Queen, but many families 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.”
He continued: “This time is being spoken of by many as a moment of uncertainty for the nation as a result of the passing of someone who felt like a near eternal point of stability. That fear relies for its strength on leaving God out of our thinking. Nothing is lost to God.”
Archbishop Justin also recalled occasions where he had witnessed both the Queen and King Charles' compassion and ability to make people feel special, attributes which he linked to their Christian faith.
“King Charles III has the same ability, to see the value of each person as God sees them. And that is his conscious understanding of people,” Welby continued.
“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. It is a rock on which we too can stand. There is room on that rock for every human being, however important or unimportant.
“Our sure hope comes from the fact the monarchy is not in a person, it is in God’s loving grace that he poured upon the Queen and pours upon the King – ‘Thy choicest gifts in store, on him be pleased to pour.”
The 15-minute sermon ended with the congregation joining in one voice to sing the national anthem, God Save the King.
Church of England congregations were encouraged to say special prayers for Her late Majesty during Sunday services.