The Queen had “no fear of death” and drew strength from the rock on which she stood, the archbishop of Canterbury has said.
Justin Welby, who last saw the Queen in June, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I came away thinking there is someone who has no fear of death, has hope in the future, knows the rock on which she stands and that gives her strength.”
He said: “You felt that history was in front of you, but it was history with those piercingly blue eyes twinkling, that extraordinary smile and the relishing of a quick dry comment.”
Her attitude was “it’s not about me, it’s about what I have been called … by God to do”.
As the monarch, the Queen was the supreme governor of the Church of England. That position now passes to King Charles III.
Welby said churches and cathedrals all over the country would open their doors during the period of national mourning to provide “a physical space … in which people can express their sorrow and find hope and abundant life”.
Church bells will ring from noon on Friday in commemoration of the Queen, and many churches will invite people to sign books of condolences and light a candle.
At Windsor Castle, the Sebastopol Bell will toll once a minute from midday to mark the 96 years of the Queen’s life.
A service of prayer and reflection on the Queen’s death will be held in St Paul’s Cathedral at 6pm on Friday. Two thousand seats will be allocated to the public on a first come, first served basis, and the service will be broadcast live on BBC One.
Leaders of all the main faiths in the UK have paid tribute to the Queen and offered condolences in the hours since her death was announced.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, said her faith “so often and so eloquently proclaimed in her public messages, has been an inspiration to me, and I am sure to many”.
He added: “The wisdom, stability and service which she consistently embodied, often in circumstances of extreme difficulty, are a shining legacy and testament to her faith.”