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Writers and religious leaders used the occasion to reflect on how Britain has changed over the queen’s reign, from a war-scarred imperial power to a middle-sized power with oversized cultural clout.

Bishop of London Richard Chartres said the queen’s steadfast presence had helped the country adjust to rapid change.

“The quiet dignity of the queen and the way in which she and her family have reached out to include newly established British communities has provided a focus for continuing but expanding national self-respect and so has assisted the peaceful transformation of our national identity,” he wrote in a jubilee pamphlet.