This is a moment of profound sadness for all of us in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe, who have held Her Majesty The Queen in our hearts and prayers, in many cases for the whole of our lives.

Queen Elizabeth’s reign has been unprecedented in its longevity. On her 21st birthday, long before many of us were born, the young Princess Elizabeth pledged that her whole life – whether it be long or short – would be devoted to our service. She was faithful to that promise throughout the 70 years of her reign.

While no one could question her commitment to her people, she displayed equal fidelity to an even greater responsibility – her divine calling. Seventy years ago, on the eve of her coronation, she asked that God would give her wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises she would be making, and prayed that she would faithfully serve Him and her people all the days of her life.

Those prayers were answered in abundance. Who of us can doubt that the words from Matthew’s Gospel have not already been said: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’?

Our prayers are with the King, the Queen Consort, and all the Royal Family.

God save The King.