"Service in life, hope in death": Archbishop of Canterbury at Queen’s Funeral Service

Archbishop Justin Welby in Łódź, Poland, July 21, 2016. | Mazur/

In his sermon at the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II today, the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, praised the Christian faith and example of the late monarch.

After readings from St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians and St. John’s Gospel, Welby said: “Jesus — who in our reading does not tell his disciples how to follow, but who to follow — said: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’”

“Her Late Majesty’s example was not set through her position or her ambition, but through whom she followed.”

The funeral service was held in Westminster Abbey, the church in which Queen Elizabeth was married to Prince Philip in 1947 and in which her coronation was held in 1953.

“In 1953 the queen began her coronation with silent prayer, just there at the high altar. Her allegiance to God was given before any person gave allegiance to her.”

With world leaders among the 2,000 people gathered in the abbey, Welby said: “People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer. But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten.”

The queen’s immediate family members were gathered around her coffin during the service. Welby acknowledged their grief and offered them his prayers.

“We pray especially for all her family, grieving as every family at a funeral — including so many families round the world who have themselves lost someone recently — but in this family’s case, doing so in the brightest spotlight,” he said.

“May God heal their sorrow, may the gap left in their lives be marked with memories of joy and life.”

Welby drew his sermon to a close with a reflection on the queen’s broadcast to the nation and the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Her Late Majesty’s broadcast during the COVID lockdown ended with: ‘We will meet again,’ words of hope from a song [by] Vera Lynn. Christian hope means certain expectation of something not yet seen.”

“We will all face the merciful judgment of God. We can all share the queen’s hope which in life and death inspired her servant leadership,” he said.

He concluded: “Service in life, hope in death. All who follow the queen’s example and inspiration of trust and faith in God can with her say: ‘We will meet again.’”