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Cleric reveals how Queen Elizabeth II’s last days were faith-focused

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Cerith Gardiner - published on 09/08/23

On the one-year anniversary of her death, the Right Reverend Dr. Iain Greenshields shares some of his last moments with the late British sovereign.

It is incredible to think that it’s already been a year since Queen Elizabeth II passed away. And although her death saw the end of an era, it’s still interesting to read that towards the end of her 96 years, her faith was what dominated her thoughts.

In a recent article in the Daily Mail, the Right Reverend Dr. Iain Greenshields, who was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at the time of Elizabeth’s passing, shared his thoughts and conversations with the monarch in the days before she died.

As is customary, the senior clergyman was invited to Balmoral — the Queen’s home in Scotland — to spend a few days with her in the summer.

He revealed that in his time with the Queen, despite her frailty, she was still sharp and was discussing things close to her heart: primarily her faith, as well as her father’s, King George VI.

As he recollected:

It would be very normal for a Moderator to talk about matters of faith, but I was very interested in how much she wanted to talk about her own … She also mentioned her father — George VI — and the great influence his faith had on her.”

Dr. Greenshields further spoke about how he was surprised that his invitation had still been extended, considering the Queen’s fragile health. However, he explained that Elizabeth was determined to hear the sermon he was going to preach at Crathie Church.

Focus on faith

When reflecting on his time with the sovereign, the Scottish clergyman shared: “When she died, I thought of my mother and how she, too, had spoken about her faith just before she died and that normally she would never do so.”

“So, I do wonder if people, even subconsciously, are getting ready for the end. It’s also very common when people are dying to reflect on their parents, as the Queen did,” Dr. Greenshields reasoned.

He also shared that in one of his conversations the Queen mentioned an American religious leader who’d also had a great influence on her, although she didn’t name him. He surmised that it might have been Billy Graham, as she had met him previously.

The Queen’s deep faith is known to many, and it was the foundation for her reign, as she declared in her vows on her coronation day. And despite all her jewels and castles, a book of prayers collated by Geoffrey Fisher, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of her coronation in 1953, was one of her most prized possessions.

Those watching her funeral in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, might remember the poignant moment when the Queen’s regalia was taken off her coffin, so she could return to being a simple Christian soul — and there’s no doubt that that is just how she would have wanted it.

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