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World News

‘You lifted my burden’: Former Archbishop of York shares private moment of prayer with Queen

by Kelly Valencia

Former Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu has shared a private personal moment of prayer he had with Her Majesty the Queen back in 2018.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme, Dr Sentamu said the Queen comforted him with prayer during their meeting in which he asked for permission to step down as Archbishop of York.

“I went with a huge burden of matters that one day may be revealed.

“And I knelt down and I said: ‘Your Majesty, please pray for me’. So I put my hands together and she put hers outside mine and we were silent for three minutes. And at the end she said, ‘Amen’.

“When I got up, the burden had lifted.”

Dr Sentamu also recalled a thank you letter he received from the Queen following Prince Philip’s funeral.

“The Queen wrote me a most wonderful letter, four weeks after the burial of Prince Philip, thanking me for the flowers, the prayers, and then ended by saying: ‘When you are grieving, someone you deeply love, It isn't easy when you're having to do it in public.

“So my thought would be to the new King, and the whole royal family. They are grieving publicly.”

The former Archbishop of York and life peer told of his involvement in preparing the funeral service for the last 17 years after he became a member of the Privy Council in 2005.

The service had been constantly reviewed in consultation with the Sovereign – the Queen didn’t want a “long, boring” funeral service, he said.

"You're not going to find boredom, but you're going to be lifted to glory as you hear the service", he said.

Dr Sentamu said mourners can expect a traditional service rooted in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

“What you’re going to expect is the best of funeral services, the prayer book service, the words which were an inspiration to Shakespeare.

“You’re going to hear this wonderful English at its best. Also you’re going to hear angelic voices of the choir of the abbey plus the Chapels Royal … voices that are singing to the glory of God.”

The Queen’s funeral is taking place on Monday 19th September with some 500 dignitaries from across the world among the 2,000 people in attendance.

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