Church of England: And All the Royal Family

Since the reign of James I, writes C. Leo Berry, members of the Royal House have been variously prayed for in the Services of the Church of England.

In 1840, at the time of Queen Victoria’s first pregnancy, Lady Lyttelton recorded the following conversation between a certain “Lord W” and the Queen’s husband, Prince Albert:

“Lord W asked if a prayer for the Queen’s peculiar circumstances should be added [to the Liturgy],

“Prince—No, no, you have one already in the Litany for ‘all women labouring with child’. You already pray five times for the Queen. It is too much.

Lord W—Can we pray too much for her Majesty?

“Prince—Not too heartily but too often."

Today it is recognised that the Prince was right. The Communion Collect for the Queen is unnecessary, as she is prayed for by name later in the same service. So far as other members of the Royal Family are concerned, no complaint of excessive frequency can be made. Church-goers today are in fact often annoyed at the unauthorised omission of a prayer lawfully prescribed in the Prayer Book, which has so interesting a history.

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