The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has paid tribute to the selfless dedication of the Queen, who he said had shown “a quality of joy in the happiness of others” throughout her 60-year reign.

In his sermon for the National Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee at St Paul's Cathedral, London, on Tuesday 5 June, Dr Williams said the focus of the service was “the simple statement of commitment made by a very young woman, away from home, suddenly and devastatingly bereaved, a statement that she would be there for those she governed, that she was dedicating herself to them”.

“… We are marking today the anniversary of one historic and very public act of dedication – a dedication that has endured faithfully, calmly and generously through most of the adult lives of most of us here,” the Archbishop said. “We are marking six decades of living proof that public service is possible and that it is a place where happiness can be found. To seek one’s own good and one’s own well-being in the health of the community is sacrificially hard work – but it is this search that is truly natural to the human heart. That’s why it is not a matter of tight-lipped duty or grudging compliance with someone else’s demands. Jesus himself says ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me’, and that’s what is at the heart of real dedication.”

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was the fifth jubilee to be celebrated at St Paul’s since the only other Diamond Jubilee in the history of the British monarchy – that of Queen Victoria in 1897, at which the then Sovereign’s frailty meant that only a brief service was held on the steps of St Paul’s while Victoria remained in her carriage.

Other jubilees at the Christopher Wren-designed seat of the Bishop of London were King George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935, at which the present Queen was present as a child at her grandfather’s milestone, and Elizabeth II’s own Silver (1977) and Golden (2002) anniversaries of her Accession to the Throne.

Read the transcript of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon here.

For information on the Diamond Jubilee, including the Order of Service, and previous jubilee celebrations at St Paul’s, click here.