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Her Majesty was given the Canterbury Cross to recognise her contribution to the Church of England over her long reign. The 96-year-old head of state held a face-to-face audience with Justin Welby at Windsor Castle today to receive the award.

It comes after she skipped the public procession during Garter Day and did not make any appearances at Royal Ascot last week due to her ongoing mobility issues.

During the presentation today, the Most Rev Justin Welby gave the Queen the small silver cross, inspired by a 9th century Saxon brooch and incorporating a triquetra pattern, as a “heartfelt symbol” of the church’s “love, loyalty and affection”.

The monarch has been facing ongoing mobility issues and has been seen with a stick or sat down during recent public appearances.

However, she managed to go without a walking aid as she shook hands with the Archbishop as he entered the Oak Room sitting room at Windsor.

The citation on the cross said: “Throughout her reign, Her Majesty has duly upheld both the Christian religion and the Church of England in her roles as Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

“Whether in the formality of opening sessions of General Synod or the more intimate context of her personal addresses to the nation and Commonwealth at Christmas, Her Majesty has made manifest her own deep faith and its relevance to all that she undertakes.

“Her subtle understanding of the changing position of the Established Church in England has sustained and encouraged laity and clergy alike.

“Her care for the unity of her people and the welfare of the least fortunate have been a constant inspiration to the whole Church. Hers is an example of the Christian life well led.

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