The Duke of Cambridge has praised how the Church of Scotland has “reinvented itself” in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
William was due to be at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland next month having been appointed Lord High Commissioner by The Queen in January.
But the week-long event, which was due to open in Edinburgh on May 16, has been cancelled as part of the social restrictions to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Churches across the country have also closed their doors and tried finding new ways to reach parishioners including holding services online.
Ahead of Easter Sunday the Duke wrote to the Right Reverend Colin Sinclair, the outgoing moderator of the Assembly, praising the work of the Kirk in “this extremely challenging time”.
In his letter he says: “As we approach Easter, I wanted to acknowledge how difficult a time this must be for the Church of Scotland and your Ministries.
“You have had to close your churches at the very moment when you normally come together, and when your communities need you the most.
“It is heartening to see how the Church of Scotland, like so many other faith communities across the country, is re-inventing itself digitally to continue providing worship, support and guidance for your congregations.
“I have no doubt that this support, as well as other means of offering help, is hugely appreciated at this extremely challenging time, particularly by the elderly, vulnerable, those economically affected and of course those who have so tragically lost family and friends.
“I am sure that this continuing connection and support will be particularly welcomed this Easter weekend.”
Had the Assembly gone ahead the Duke – known as the Earl of Strathearn when in Scotland – would have made opening and closing addresses before hundreds of attendees as well as meeting Rev Sinclair and his successor, moderator-designate Rev Dr Martin Fair.
The Lord High Commissioner role was established in the 1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland, and the Queen pledged to continue it during the first Privy Council meeting of her reign in 1952.
William also writes: “It is sad but understandable that the pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
“As you know, I was very much looking forward to spending a week in Scotland this May as Lord High Commissioner.
“I know how much work goes into preparing for the General Assembly week, and I wanted to pass on my thanks to all involved.
“Please pass on my warmest wishes to all Ministers, Elders and Members of the Church of Scotland, who I know are working tirelessly to serve their communities in the most difficult of circumstances.”
Rev Sinclair said: “As we approach Easter I was delighted to receive as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland a letter from Prince William, the Earl of Strathearn.
“His Royal Highness was due to be Lord High Commissioner at this year’s General Assembly, before it had to be cancelled because of Covid 19.
“The Church of Scotland is sorry not to be able to welcome him back to Scotland, where he went to University, but we appreciate him taking time to write to us and are grateful for his interest, concern and support.”