The Queen visits St Mary’s Church in Upper Street for special Scripture Union service
PUBLISHED: 16:31 06 December 2017 | UPDATED: 18:40 06 December 2017
The Queen this afternoon made her first ever visit to St Mary’s Church in Upper Street.
Just after 3pm, Her Majesty arrived at Islington’s “mother church” to excitable whoops from dozens of people who had gathered outside.
She was in town for the 150th anniversary service of the Scripture Union. Though it’s today a national movement supporting young people, it started in Essex Road in 1867 – making St Mary’s an appropriate location for the service.
The Rev Simon Harvey, who welcomed the Queen on arrival, told the Gazette: “It’s very exciting. It’s a unique occasion as I don’t know anyone who can remember a reigning monarch ever coming to St Mary’s – and we have been here a long time.
“It’s a thrill because the Queen is a Christian and very clear about her faith. She worshipped with us – she wasn’t just a guest at a presentation.
“You could feel the excitement beforehand, the wonderful anticipation of something special about to happen.
“But it’s not just about her being in the building. It’s about the Scripture Union and its 150-year history, starting with a handful of young people here in Islington.”
With five minutes to go before the Queen’s arrival, much of the congregation inside the church had been turned round, staring at the doorway in anticipation of the monarch’s arrival.
Singer Katherine Jenkins, a guest as part of a BBC Songs of Praise recording during the service, could be seen engaging in polite small talk with a minister.
Outside, meanwhile, a crowd had been gathering behind railings over an hour before the Queen’s arrival. As her car pulled up, other people had camped outside Islington Square across the road in the hope of getting a better glimpse.
When she got out the car, members of the crowd could be heard whooping and screaming: “We love you!”
The service, which was attended by people from across the country, heard about the origins of the Scripture Union at 309 Essex Road, as well as its continued relevance in 2017.
Pupils from St Mary’s Primary School, in Fowler Road, also sang a joyous, uplifting version of “Your Love Will Last Forever”. A live feed of the performance was beamed on TV screens around the church. The camera briefly panned across Her Majesty. Unfortunately, at that particular moment, she looked miserable.
The Queen exited, to a round of applause, as soon as the service ended just after 4.10pm.
There was a rapturous crowd as she got into her car outside, with one woman singing: “We love you Queenie, we do!”
However, there were also dissenters, with one man screaming “SCUMBAG!”