The Queen has recorded her first ever Easter message, drawing on her own personal faith to reassure the nation: “We know that coronavirus will not overcome us.”
Describing how churches up and down the country are closed due to coronavirus, she insists that “Easter isn’t cancelled” and that the message at the heart of holy week is more relevant than ever due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
She said: “This year, Easter will be different for many of us, but by keeping apart we keep others safe. But Easter isn’t cancelled; indeed, we need Easter as much as ever.
“The discovery of the risen Christ on the first Easter Day gave his followers new hope and fresh purpose, and we can all take heart from this.
“We know that coronavirus will not overcome us. As dark as death can be – particularly for those suffering with grief – light and life are greater. May the living flame of the Easter hope be a steady guide as we face the future.”
Her Majesty recorded the audio broadcast in the White Drawing room at Windsor Castle, the same room where she filmed her historic televised address which was shown last weekend.
It is the first time in her 68-year reign that she has ever recorded a message to mark Holy week.
Using the Easter story and the religious customs associated with it to reinforce her message she said: “Many religions have festivals which celebrate light overcoming darkness. Such occasions are often accompanied by the lighting of candles.
“They seem to speak to every culture, and appeal to people of all faiths, and of none. They are lit on birthday cakes and to mark family anniversaries, when we gather happily around a source of light. It unites us.
“As darkness falls on the Saturday before Easter Day, many Christians would normally light candles together. In church, one light would pass to another, spreading slowly and then more rapidly as more candles are lit. It’s a way of showing how the good news of Christ’s resurrection has been passed on from the first Easter by every generation until now.”
In the message which was posted on all the royal family social media channels, she goes on to wish everyone “of all faiths and denominations a blessed Easter”.
The message was recorded on Friday at Windsor Castle, with strict precautions taken to make sure there was no risk to the 93-year-old monarch.
As with the television broadcast, the equipment had been set up ahead of the recording and cleaned before the Queen came into contact with it. A sound recordist was in a room next door.
The Queen as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and Defender of Faith, has often spoken about the importance of her own personal faith, describing the life of Jesus Christ as “an inspiration and an anchor in my life”.
Her Easter message was released this evening because she didn’t want to overshadow traditional Easter messages delivered by religious leaders every year.
Her Majesty’s televised address last weekend was watched by an audience of 24 million people.
In the address she talked about how social distancing is challenging but has given some time for reflection, she said “though self-isolating may at times be hard, many people of all faiths, and of none, are discovering that it presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect, in prayer or meditation”.
Her Majesty said she was “deeply disappointed” that the annual Maundy Thursday service at Windsor Castle, where she hands out Maundy money to pensioners had to be cancelled due to the virus.
Churches, like all religious places of worship have been closed because of the restrictions on social gatherings.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have also told clergy not to enter churches even on their own to pray or stream services over Easter.
But clergy across the country have said more people do appear to be re-engaging with their faith, with huge numbers watching online sermons and services, compared to the normal size of congregations that physically go to church.
The shift to online services is acknowledged by Prince William in a message he has sent to the Church of Scotland, in his new role as Lord High Commissioner, which was announced in January this year.
In a letter to the Moderator of the Church of Scotland he said: “You have had to close your Churches at the very moment when you normally come together, and when your communities need you the most.
“It is heartening to see how the Church of Scotland, like so many other faith communities across the country, is re-inventing itself digitally to continue providing worship, support and guidance for your congregations.”
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