Exeter Cathedral is to hold a special Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving for Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
More than a thousand people are expected to attend the service, which takes place at 3pm on Sunday 18 September, with hundreds more expected to watch from home as it is live-streamed on the Cathedral’s Facebook page.
Among those taking part in the service will be David Fursdon, His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Devon; The Right Revd Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter; The Very Revd Jonathan Greener, Dean of Exeter; and Exeter-based Chaplain to His Majesty The King, The Revd Prebendary Nigel Guthrie. The service also includes a reading by Lucy Ashton of the RNLI, representing one of the many charities supported by the late Queen as Patron.
As Dean Jonathan explains, preparations for the service follow several intense days of ceremonies, services and tributes at the cathedral:
“One of the jobs of a cathedral is to be a place where people gather for major national events, and we have been understandably busy over the past few days, because Elizabeth II was loved by so many people here in Devon. Hundreds of candles have been lit by visitors as they’ve offered up their prayers, and the comments left in our Books of Condolence are very personal and deeply moving. People have come here to find comfort from one another, and to seek peace and consolation from God, and it has been a great privilege to welcome them all.
“Sunday’s Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving takes place just ten days after we first lowered the cathedral’s North Tower flag to half-mast. In that time, we have witnessed a huge outpouring of public feeling – huge sadness at the death of Her Late Majesty, but also widespread joy at the Proclamation of our new King.”
As the King’s representative for Devon, Lord-Lieutenant Mr Fursdon is also very conscious of the impact that Elizabeth II has had on the local community:
“I am pleased to be holding a service at Exeter Cathedral for the people of Devon to give thanks for the life and service of Her Late Majesty and for us to be marking her death in an appropriate manner.
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II touched the lives of so many, particularly those who have been lucky enough to have her as their Patron, and I am sure that many will want to attend this special service of commemoration on Sunday.
“I am also delighted that there will be many young people attending from our uniformed youth groups, with prayers being led by cadets from Devon.”
The Right Revd Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter, added:
“The reign of Queen Elizabeth II has been a glorious example of Christian faith lived out among the people of our nation and across the Commonwealth. So we look forward to the people of Devon coming together here on Sunday, to give thanks for her life and leadership.”
The death of the Queen and Proclamation of the new monarch has created an extraordinarily busy schedule for the young Choristers at Exeter Cathedral, who have been called on to provide music for the cathedral’s services and ceremonies throughout the period of mourning. Reflecting on the historic events, 10-year-old Hannah, a Chorister from Exeter Cathedral School, concludes:
“I feel very proud that I get to be in this moment – this one amazing, massively important fragment in all of history. I think that everyone is going to remember this changeover from Queen to King.
The Queen has made many changes for the better, throughout the lives of many, many people and will always be remembered.”