THE Queen has sent a poignant message about the "passage of time" – just days before her wedding anniversary to the late Prince Phillip.

The 95-year-old monarch's message was read by her son as she recovers from a sprained back. 

Addressing the opening session of the 11th General Synod of the Church of England, the Queen said: "It is hard to believe that it is over 50 years since Prince Philip and I attended the very first meeting of the General Synod.

"None of us can slow the passage of time, and while we often focus on all that has changed in the intervening years, much remains unchanged, including the Gospel of Christ and his teachings."

The Queen married Prince Philip on November 20, 1947, with the duke passing away after more than 70 years of marriage in April this year.

The Earl of Wessex read his mum's speech to bishops and clergy at Church House, the Westminster headquarters of the Church of England, in her absence after she sprained her back.

He also said the Queen "deeply regrets" not being able to attend in person.

It is the first time the monarch, who is Supreme Governor of the church, has missed her five-yearly visit to the Synod in its 51-year history.

The General Synod is the national assembly of the Church of England which passes legislation.

The Queen was also forced to pull out of the Remembrance Sunday service at the weekend due to the back injury.

Her Majesty has missed the event just six times during her reign – either when pregnant or away on tour.

Speaking today, Prince Edward told the General Synod "you probably understand why" the Queen was not present to deliver her address.

Edward, addressing the Church of England's national assembly on behalf of his mother in Westminster on Tuesday, said the Queen sends her "sincere and deep apologies that she cannot be here today".

He added: "I think you probably understand why, and she regrets that deeply."

In the speech, the Queen also described he coronavirus pandemic as a period "of anxiety, of grief, and of weariness".

Speaking on his mum's behalf Edward said: "Of course, in our richly diverse modern society, the well-being of the nation depends on the contribution of people of all faiths, and of none.

"But for people of faith, the last few years have been particularly hard, with unprecedented restrictions in accessing the comfort and reassurance of public worship.

"For many, it has been a time of anxiety, of grief, and of weariness.

"Yet the Gospel has brought hope, as it has done throughout the ages; and the Church has adapted and continued its ministry, often in new ways, such as digital forms of worship."

The 11th Synod was elected earlier this autumn for a five-year term, and will meet two or three times a year.

Members will discuss national issues including the gap between rich and poor in the UK as well as work to develop a new strategy for the Church of England, as part of the agenda in two days of speeches and debates.

In her speech, the Queen reminded the church of its "weighty responsibilities" in making "difficult decisions" about the future of the church.

Edward added: "In some areas, there will, of course, be differing views and my hope is that you will be strengthened with the certainty of the love of God, as you work together and draw on the Church's tradition of unity in fellowship for the tasks ahead."

The Queen's husband the Duke of Edinburgh died in April age 99.

Saturday marks their first wedding anniversary to pass since Philip died.

The Queen and the duke would have celebrated 74 years of marriage.

More to follow…

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