The Presbyterian Queen

There was a reference in The Daily Telegraph on 3 September to the connection between the Royal Family and Crathie Kirk, near Balmoral which Queen Victoria started in 1848. In a letter published on 6 September, Alistair Lexden explained how she became an ardent Presbyterian, but did not quite come up to scratch in every respect.


SIR-- Queen Victoria’s delight in Crathie Kirk, the church in Aberdeenshire (“Reign Gauge”, September 3), was not shared by all her ministers.

Lord Clarendon, foreign secretary in 1856 and a frostbite victim at chilly Balmoral, told his wife: “There is a good deal of singing (very bad) but there is no kneeling, and they never say the Lord’s Prayer.”

From 1873 Victoria regularly took Communion among the “simple good people” on her Scottish estate, to the horror of her Anglican household who kept her Presbyterianism out of the court circular.

But she was found wanting by one dour visiting minister who gave a sermon on damnation. When told afterwards that “the Queen does not altogether believe in the Devil”, the preacher sighed, “Puir body.”

Lord Lexden
London SW1