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Her Majesty the Queen approves recommendations for Westminster Abbey

Monday, 9th February 2004

Her Majesty the Queen approves recommendations for Westminster Abbey

Recommendations put forward by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, for the organisation, management and accountability of the Royal Peculiars have today been approved by Her Majesty the Queen.

Royal Peculiars are churches that are independent from normal diocesan and provincial control and are answerable instead to a Visitor. In March 2001, the Lord Chancellor's Department published the Report of the Review Group on the Royal Peculiars of Westminster Abbey, St George's Chapel, Windsor, and the Chapels Royal at St James' Palace, Hampton Court and the Tower of London. This Report formed the basis for Lord Falconer's proposals.

Lord Falconer said:

I am very grateful to the members of the Review Group for the excellent and thorough report they completed on the Royal Peculiars. It has proved invaluable in enabling us to come to our conclusions, which will provide independent accountability should any grievances arise or mediation be required.

Westminster Abbey's response to the Lord Chancellor's report

The Dean and Chapter of Westminster warmly welcomed the findings of the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs as well as Her Majesty's approval of Lord Falconer's recommendations.

The Dean Of Westminster, Dr Wesley Carr, on behalf of the Dean and Chapter, said:

As part of our process of change and modernisation, which began seven years ago, we were grateful to Her Majesty for acceding to our request for a review. Since receiving the Review Group's Report, we have been diligently responding to the recommendations. They are an appropriate addition to the process of change and modernisation.
We welcome this input. It represents a most positive development in the life of the Abbey, and the Dean and Chapter is grateful to the Review Group, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and his colleagues for their work and recommendations.

Lord Hurd Of Westwell said:

As High Steward of Westminster Abbey, I know I speak for the High Bailiff, Sir Roy Strong, and the other lay members of the College, in welcoming the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affair's announcement today. Since my appointment in September 1999, I have been impressed by the way in which, both prior to and following publication of the Report of the Review Group, the Dean and Chapter and their colleagues have striven to maintain and reinforce the Abbey's spiritual task and to bring its management up-to-date. With Her Majesty's approval of Lord Falconer's proposals, another major step in the process is complete.
It says much for the Dean and Chapter that they had no hesitation in responding to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affair's with a request that these provisions be implemented as soon as practicable.

Background

1997: The Very Rev Dr Wesley Carr is appointed Dean of Westminster. The Dean and Chapter begin process of maintaining and reinforcing worship. They introduced 'Recovering the Calm', an innovative method of managing visitors to improve opportunities for worship and the modernisation of Westminster Abbey's organisation, management, procedures and protocols.

1998: Dismissal of the Abbey Organist for gross misconduct is upheld by Lord Jauncey. Discussions commence between the Deans of Windsor, Westminster and the Chapels Royal, over a Review of the Royal Peculiars in light of the proposed Cathedrals Measure.

1999: At the request of the Deans of the Royal Peculiars, Her Majesty the Queen appoints Professor Averil Cameron (Warden of Keble College, Oxford) to chair a review of the organisation, management and accountability of each. Other members were the (then) Dean of York, the Very Reverend Raymond Furnell, Sir Brian Jenkins, Chairman of Woolwich plc and the Rt Hon The Lord Lloyd of Berwick.

2001: The Review Group publishes its findings. It strongly endorses the independence of the Royal Peculiars and describes them as a 'beacon in modern society'. It recognises Westminster Abbey's prior achievements in internal management structures, the visitor experience and, above all, its main task of worship.

Late 2003: The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, Lord Falconer, makes recommendations to Her Majesty The Queen.

Feb 2004: Her Majesty The Queen approves the recommendations put to her by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, Lord Falconer.

See also release from the Lord Chancellor and Secretary For State For Constitutional Affairs dated 9 February 2004.

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