On the 9th September 2015 the Bishop of Peterborough the Rt Revd. Donald Allister joined the other parts of the House of Lords in paying tribute to Her Majesty the Queen upon the occasion of her becoming the longest-reigning monarch. Bishop Donald spoke of his personal experience of meeting the Queen and about the importance her faith has been as she goes about her public duties in the UK and the wider Commonwealth.
The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, 1952 was a good year: Her Majesty the Queen acceded to the Throne in February and I was born in August. That puts me in the majority of people in this country—although, I suggest, perhaps not in your Lordships’ House—whose whole lives have been lived in her reign. Those 63 years, coming up to 64, have seen immense change and an immense pace of change. Institutions and authority figures have become more accountable and often less trusted. The monarchy and the Royal Family have been through difficulties, but the Queen has come through as completely trusted and deeply loved. This is not because of the institution of the monarchy but because of her personal character and integrity.
One of the privileges of diocesan bishops in the Church of England is that we spend time meeting the Queen one-to-one when we make our oath of allegiance. It was potentially a terrifying moment for me, five and a half years ago, but in reality a joy. As many others have testified, she was completely natural, put me at my ease and talked easily about Chester where I had come from and Peterborough where I was going. Further down the line an even more daunting privilege loomed, as I was invited to spend a weekend at Sandringham with the Queen, some of her family and other guests. This included preaching before the Royal Family, more one-to-one conversations and a private dinner with the Queen and Prince Philip, to whom we also must pay tribute, after the other guests had left. Once again she put me at my ease in a variety of ways, talking of families and everyday matters, relaxing and laughing. She surprised me with a dry sense of humour and confirmed all that I had heard about her encyclopaedic knowledge. She was apparently unguarded at times but with no sign at all of malice or ill will. I had a delightful weekend.
For Christians, and I think for many others, the Queen’s Christmas messages to the Commonwealth have been hugely encouraging. She talks about her own situation, about people she has met and places she has visited, and she is open about her own faith and its importance to her. Many of us are deeply grateful for that example of faith and witness in the public square. On behalf of the Bench of Bishops of the Church of England, and I trust of all people of any faith or none, I gladly pay tribute, offer deep thanks and pledge continued loyalty to Her Majesty.