It is with deep sadness that we, your bishops, received the news that our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth died yesterday afternoon. It is taking time to sink in that the monarch most of us have trusted and relied on all our lives has been promoted to glory.

For us as Christians she has fulfilled her role as Defender of the Faith, offering the most effective Christian witness in public life around the world through her Christmas broadcasts and in the manner of her life. She unashamedly lived her life in and for Christ our Lord. To those who pray, we invite prayer and thanksgiving for one who gave her whole life, be it long or short, in our service because of her anointed vocation to serve God. It was that simple for her. Latterly, as she has relied on a shepherd’s stick to remain mobile, we have seen clearly the one who has been a shepherd of nations for Jesus’s sake.

Others are better placed than us to extol her merits as the key figure of the unity of our constituent parts as the United Kingdom. We can say with conviction and knowledge that Elizabeth II provided the moral compass which all public leadership should emulate, not only in the United Kingdom but throughout the other nations where she has been head of state and head of the Commonwealth. We know how loved and respected she has been by the people of Greater Lincolnshire and particularly by those who had the huge privilege of meeting her personally in her visits to the county, most recently in 2012 during her Diamond Jubilee.

King Charles, as the Prince of Wales, addressed Queen Elizabeth in the celebration of her Platinum Jubilee and thanked Mummy for living up to her promise to serve her people for her whole life. We praise God for her seventy years on the throne and for the previous years of service as a princess in war and peace. We give thanks for her reunion with Prince Philip and all her departed loved ones.

It is also our duty and our joy to pray for Charles our new King, and for The Queen Consort Camilla and all the Royal Family, as they take on fresh responsibilities. We pray for a grieving family, for the King and his loved ones, for children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A reign has ended, and a new reign has begun. We give thanks for one Sovereign and pray God’s blessing upon King Charles III. We must take time to mourn; but we say already, ‘God save the King’.

We pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our new monarch. Long may he reign over us.

You will be receiving details of the period of mourning, parish guidance, and a link to Church of England worship resources. Please ensure that your churches are open wherever possible and that there is a book of condolence and guided opportunities for prayer.

Let us pray:

Gracious God, we give thanks for the life of your servant Queen Elizabeth, for her faith and dedication to duty. Bless our nation as we mourn her death, and may her example continue to inspire us as we pray for her repose in your glory; through Jesus Christ her Lord and ours. Amen.

We pray for our new monarch, Charles III and for The Queen Consort, Camilla. Pour out your blessing upon them as they mourn the loss of the Queen and as he, supported by his consort and the whole Royal Family, learns from her service the nature of the calling to which he now responds; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.