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Queen receives virtual oath of allegiance from bishop in historic first

The monarch is Head of the Church of England and video-called the new Archbishop of York.

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The new Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell and the Queen (Arthur Edwards/PA)

The new Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell and the Queen (Arthur Edwards/PA)

The new Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell and the Queen (Arthur Edwards/PA)

The ancient tradition of new bishops paying homage to the sovereign has been carried out virtually for the first time in history.

The Queen received the oath of allegiance from the newly-appointed Archbishop of York during a video call on Tuesday, Buckingham Palace said.

Normally, new bishops pay homage to the Queen in person, before they begin their duties, but the coronavirus pandemic has meant the Queen has been carrying out some of her usual audiences online or on the phone.

Updating a 450-year-old custom, the Queen held a video-call from Windsor Castle with The Most Reverend and Rt Hon Stephen Cottrell to receive the oath.

The act of newly-appointed bishops paying homage to the sovereign dates back to the reign of Elizabeth I, and the Palace confirmed it is the first time this has happened virtually.

The oath acts as the bishop’s formal acknowledgement of allegiance to the monarch, who is the Supreme Governor of Church of England.

Archbishop Stephen was confirmed as Archbishop of York on July 9.

The 94-year-old monarch has been staying at Windsor in Berkshire for the past 18 weeks since before lockdown.

The royal family has adapted to an unprecedented change in royal duties during the coronavirus crisis.

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The Queen and the Princess Royal as they take part in a video call with carers (Buckingham Palace/PA)

The Queen and the Princess Royal as they take part in a video call with carers (Buckingham Palace/PA)

PA

The Queen and the Princess Royal as they take part in a video call with carers (Buckingham Palace/PA)

Public appearances were swapped for online video calls as the Windsors followed the rules and stayed at home.

Garden parties, investitures, state visits and foreign tours were put on hold as popular, traditional annual engagements drawing huge crowds, along with run-of-the-mill meet and greets and walkabouts, were deemed unsafe.

The Queen, who was joined at Windsor by the Duke of Edinburgh with a reduced household dubbed HMS Bubble, has delivered two rare televised addresses to the nation just weeks apart.

On June 4, she took part in her first official video conference call as part of her public duties, speaking to carers with the Princess Royal.

She has also been holding her Privy Council meetings by video link and her weekly audiences with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the phone.

The Queen was pictured holding an old-fashioned phone to her ear as she talked to Mr Johnson on March 25, surrounded by ornaments including a china corgi in a sitting room at her royal residence.

Last week, the Queen knighted Captain Sir Tom Moore in a special outdoor ceremony at the castle to honour the 100-year-old fundraising hero.

At the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, bishops swore to be “faithful and true” to the new sovereign.

Philip also pledged to be his wife’s “liege man of life and limb” during the ceremony and was the first layman to pay tender homage to the newly crowned monarch.

PA