The Queen stood without a walking stick as she was awarded a special Canterbury Cross for her ‘unstinting service’ to the Church of England.
The 96-year-old head of state received the honour during a face-to-face audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Windsor Castle.
The Most Rev Justin Welby gave the Queen the small silver cross, inspired by a 9th century Saxon brooch.
it incorporates a triquetra pattern, as a ‘heartfelt symbol’ of the church’s ‘love, loyalty and affection’.
It was a tribute to her outstanding service to the Church of England and in honour of her Platinum Jubilee.
The Queen, who has faced mobility issues, wore a cream dress decorated with a pattern of large pink flowers and was photographed smiling and standing without an aid as she greeted Rev Welby.
Presented in a vivid red box and attached to a blue ribbon, the cross was specially crafted for its royal recipient with platinum inserts in recognition of her milestone 70 years on the throne.
The Queen, who has a deep Christian faith, is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and Defender of the Faith.
In the citation for the cross, which was also given to the Queen as a framed piece of calligraphy, the archbishop praised the monarch and hailed ‘her care for the unity of her people and the welfare of the least fortunate’ as a ‘constant inspiration to the whole church’.
The Queen’s life was ‘an example of a Christian life well led,’ he said.
The citation read: ‘Throughout her reign, Her Majesty has duly upheld both the Christian religion and the Church of England in her roles as Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
‘Whether in the formality of opening sessions of General Synod or the more intimate context of her personal addresses to the nation and Commonwealth at Christmas, Her Majesty has made manifest her own deep faith and its relevance to all that she undertakes.
‘Her subtle understanding of the changing position of the Established Church in England has sustained and encouraged laity and clergy alike.
‘Her care for the unity of her people and the welfare of the least fortunate have been a constant inspiration to the whole Church. Hers is an example of the Christian life well led.
‘This presentation of the Canterbury Cross is a heartfelt symbol of the love, loyalty and affection in which the Church of England holds Her Majesty and it represents the recognition and gratitude of her whole Church for her seventy years of unstinting service. God Save The Queen!’
The Canterbury Cross is presented each year as part of the annual Lambeth Awards to a small number of recipients who have shown outstanding service to the church.
The cross’s design is inspired by a Saxon brooch which was found in Canterbury in 1867 and dates from around 850AD.
It incorporates the motif of a triquetra pattern: a three-cornered knot, symbolising the Christian Trinity, on each of its four curved arms.
The tips of the arms suggest arcs of a single circle, giving the overall effect of a round wheel.
The calligraphic citation was produced by Margot Riordan-Eva, Lambeth Palace’s calligrapher, who was taught calligraphy by Benedictine nuns at school.
Rev Welby had been due to take the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral as part of the Platinum Jubilee weekend but was forced to miss the event after testing positive for Covid.
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