What would otherwise have been a typical damp Danish afternoon was instead bright with the warmth of expectation, as HM Queen Margrethe II joined the congregation of St Alban's Anglican Church on Sunday October 20.
The Evensong celebration was held in thanksgiving for the restoration of the historic structure, which was originally built with the assistance of Princess Alexandra.
Eight-year-old Daniel, waiting outside with the other children to greet the queen, admitted he was a bit nervous, though he wasn't quite sure why. With a broad smile, he presented Her Majesty with a bouquet and exchanged a quick handshake.
Inside, the procession was led by Junior Williams, who like so many other parishioners, is an immigrant to Denmark. Having arrived from Sierra Leone 13 years ago, Williams attends services every Sunday "which is good”, he says with a nod and a smile.
The restoration project began in 2012, when the church celebrated its 125th anniversary. The Victorian stained-glass windows and the Queen Alexandra Memorial are just part of the ambitious project, which includes some more practical items such as upgrades to heating, sound and drainage.
St. Albans receives no subsidy from the state or national Church, so the entire project was funded by donations and the hands-on effort of many parishioners –who could be found recently polishing pews, gardening and even raking leaves moments before the queen's arrival to assure her safe passage inside.
"I've heard that the queen is very astute in theology," said the Right Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Rowell, Diocesan Bishop, who flew in to give the sermon, and who wrote the words to one of the hymns sung by all.
Quoting the first reading, Rowell hoped those present would "keep this forever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people," referring to the generosity of those who funded the restoration and those who use both the building and the act of service to transform minds.
Archdeacon Jonathan LLoyd, the Chaplain, stepped back from the limelight, letting it shine instead on the many members of his flock who worked so hard on first the restoration and then the service. Having asked the parishioners to at least think about wearing hats for the occasion, he blushed a bit as he donned his own.
At the close of the service, LLoyd escorted the queen to view some of the projects more closely. Joining them was Vivien Life, the British Ambassador to Denmark.
The royal visit ended with her signing the Church registry and waiving at the crowd of on lookers who had gathered to wish her well.
To join in the continuing efforts to sustain the site contributions can be made to ‘St Albans Church’ Post Giro 7 09 00 24 or for UK tax payers by Gift Aid increasing the value of their gift by 25%. For more information, visit www.st-albans.dk.