‘Deeply saddened’ Archbishop of Canterbury to miss Jubilee service after catching Covid

Lambeth Palace said the Most Reverend Justin Welby, 66, is also suffering with mild pneumonia. The Archbishop, 66, was going to preach at the service at St Paul’s Cathedral as part of the celebration for Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th year on the throne. He said he was “deeply saddened” to be missing it.

The service will feature Bible readings, prayers and hymns to express thankfulness for the Queen’s reign, as well as the ringing of England’s largest church bell, nicknamed “Great Paul”.

Mr Welby was diagnosed with pneumonia on Thursday last week, but was still well enough to continue working on a reduced schedule.

But his positive Covid test this morning meant he is now self-isolating at home. He has cancelled all his engagements for the rest of the week.

Mr Welby was also due to light a beacon at Lambeth Palace on Thursday.

In an emotional statement, the Archbishop praised the Queen’s “profound commitment to fostering unity and peace among all people”, and said he would be praying for her and “giving thanks for her extraordinary 70 years of service to us all.”

He said today: “I am deeply saddened to be missing the historic celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

“However, I will be praying for The Queen and giving thanks for her extraordinary 70 years of service to us all. I will also be praying for our nation at this time of celebration and thanksgiving. May The Queen’s example bring us together in unity and care for one another.

“For those attending Friday’s service at St Paul’s Cathedral, and the millions watching on television, I hope this joyful occasion will inspire us with The Queen’s profound commitment to fostering unity and peace among all people – and to promoting care for the natural world that God has given us.

“Led by the love of Jesus Christ, The Queen has lived her life for the benefit of others: l pray we find inspiration from Her Majesty over the Jubilee weekend and long into the future.

“Meanwhile as we continue to live with coronavirus, I pray too for all those who are still suffering and everyone who continues to mourn loved ones they have lost during the pandemic. May you each know the love and comfort of God.’

“As we prepare to celebrate the first Platinum Jubilee in our nation’s history, may God save The Queen, and bless her with the knowledge of our profound love and gratitude for her service to us all.”

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Last week, Mr Welby highlighted the findings of the Sue Gray report into workplace culture at No.10.

He said: “We need to be able to trust our national institutions’ in times of trouble.

“Sue Gray’s report shows that culture, behaviour and standards in public life really matter.”

He added: “Standards in public life are the glue that holds us together – we need to rediscover them and abide by them.”

The four-day celebration of the Queen’s 70 years on the throne will also include military parades, street parties across the country and a pop concert outside Buckingham Palace.