The Bishop of Gloucester pays tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

On 10th September 2022 the House of Lords met to hear tributes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whose death had been announced. The Bishop of Gloucester paid tribute:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, we have heard many wonderful tributes to Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Like others, I want to give thanks for her life of service, love and humility, rooted in her faith in Jesus Christ. I am delighted that the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York mentioned those jigsaws and those barbecues in winter. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, in a moving and poignant way, mentioned the experience of paying homage. I want to add one slightly amusing story to the wealth of tributes that relate to paying homage because, as has been said, our late Queen had an amazing smile and a great sense of humour.

As with all diocesan bishops, after I was announced as Bishop of Gloucester, I went to Buckingham Palace to pay homage. I was the first female diocesan bishop she had ever received and there was a certain amount of fluttering before the doors opened about whether I should curtsy or bow, wearing my robes. Just before we went in when, as usual, the Bible was being carried in on a cushion open at the verse I had chosen, I was told that I would be asked to kiss the Bible at the appropriate moment. There were a few moments of anxiety as I said, “I can’t possibly do that”, and some anxious glances as if there was some deep theological reason why I would not kiss this amazing Bible. I simply said, “I’m wearing lipstick”; that had never been experienced before. I was told simply to put my nose into it, which is what I did.

After the formalities of paying homage, she immediately put me at my ease and, as we chatted, spoke to me about being the first female diocesan bishop. Rather amusingly, she said that her husband Philip wondered what on earth my husband would do, and indeed what the husbands of other bishops would do. I found that rather amusing because I thought of all people in the country who should know what the husband of a bishop would do, one was the Duke of Edinburgh!

At this time of huge loss and mourning, I give such thanks to God for a life well lived—a life of faith and love. I recall the verse I chose that day of paying homage was from the Gospel of John, and it is one that the Queen lived. In Jesus Christ’s words to his followers: “Abide in me”. She did and she does. May she rest in peace and rise in glory. God save the King.


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