Queen appoints first woman as Dean of Chapels in 707 years

Sarah Mullally, the bishop of London, will take over the role, which will see her officiate at royal weddings, from Lord Chartres (YUI MOK/AFP/Getty Images) (YUI MOK via Getty Images)

The Queen has broken with centuries of tradition and appointed a woman to be the Dean of Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal, the first to hold the largely ceremonial position since it was instituted in 1312.

Sarah Mullally, the bishop of London, will take over the role, which will see her officiate at royal weddings, from Lord Chartres, a close friend of Prince Charles, in July 2019.

The dean officiates at major church services attended by the royal family, such as jubilees, as well as taking part in some family occasions such as marriages and births.

The position has by tradition been held by the Bishop of London, which Lord Chartres handed over to Mullally in 2017.

However he stayed on as dean while his successor accustomed herself with her new role, and assisted at the baptism of Prince Louis in July 2018.

Bishop Sarah said; “It is an honour and a privilege to be appointed as Dean of the Chapels Royal. The role is one of great historical significance, playing an important role to this day, supporting Her Majesty and the Royal Family.”

Her predecessor said; “It has been a privilege to serve The Queen as Dean. I have hugely enjoyed the partnership with other members of the Royal Household and the superlative team in Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal.”

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, tweeted: “Prayers for @bishopSarahM as you prepare to become Dean of the Chapels Royal – may Christ walk with you, and guide you in love and service. Prayers of gratitude too for Bishop Richard, who has served so faithfully in this role for more than two decades.”