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Dr Wesley Carr, Dean of Westminster
Dr Wesley Carr, Dean of Westminster
APRIL 7th, 2002

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: And now I'm joined by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr Wesley Carr who is of course going to be conducting the service.

WESLEY CARR: Good morning.

DAVID FROST: Good morning, how are you?

WESLEY CARR: Fine thank you.

DAVID FROST: Good, good, good. Does an event like this, conducting an event like this, as you did indeed with the funeral of Diana, Princess Diana, does it produce awe in you, are you nervous like an actor before he goes on stage or are you just exhilarated to be asked to do it?

WESLEY CARR: I think the answer is yes to all of those, obviously there is exhilaration, the Abbey is always a remarkable place and when it becomes, as it does for a state funeral, only more remarkable place and the team work of the people involved is always magnificent, so it's very impressive in that but awe-inspiring at the same time.

DAVID FROST: And in this case we have a situation, the Queen Mother, everybody says was not, was not just a, a church goer as it were, but you are actually conducting a funeral of someone to whom faith meant a great deal┐is that your perception?

WESLEY CARR: That's absolutely right and I think you'll find that written right through the service and those participating as well as the words.

DAVID FROST: Right, and the service itself, was it indeed okayed by the Queen Mother some years ago?

WESLEY CARR: I think the structure was, there has been of course a version around and successive Deans have looked at it and I think we've got the same basic structure as she approved of some time ago.

DAVID FROST: Right and the two hymns, Immortal Invisible God Only Wise and Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer, I'm glad to see with the tune┐because sometimes they do the wrong tune to that, but were they, were they her favourites do you think?

WESLEY CARR: I don't know one way or the other but the news has come from the Palace that those are the hymns that were approved.

DAVID FROST: And what would you seek as the response to people around the world who will be watching this service in their billions, would you hope in addition to, in addition to what it says to them about the Queen Mother, really it says something about the nature of faith as well?

WESLEY CARR: I would say that very much, I hope it will say something about the Queen Mother, I hope it'll say something about faith and also we find of course these great occasions of mourning very often help people with their own local mourning as well. So I hope it will help the people as well as interest them.

DAVID FROST: It will be, obviously the outpouring of feeling, not the same as with the death obviously of a young Princess, like Princess Diana, was that more of an ordeal for you than this will be?

WESLEY CARR: Well it was more of a surprise because I'd only been there six months and, but, and it was different because it wasn't in a sense prepared, it wasn't expected. But you put the same effort and energy into any great occasion like this.

DAVID FROST: And Princess Margaret's service too?

WESLEY CARR: That we have all ready, as it were, ready for the 19th, just afterwards.

DAVID FROST: Yes and so all of these different events bring something else to you in the process?

WESLEY CARR: Oh very much and I mean it's what we're there for and it reaffirms the Abbey very much.

DAVID FROST: In the time we're talking about, going back to as we've been comparing with the death of George VI, how much has Britain changed in terms of its attitude to faith, to God, to church-going, I mean you're, you're the established church but I mean it's not as big as it was then?

WESLEY CARR: No that's true and there has been a definite decline in numbers in some regard although on these great occasions we notice and of course Easter just before this funeral vast numbers of people in the Abbey, we have noticed a return to church-going to some extent but I think it's a more private church-going than a sort of public social one that it was.

DAVID FROST: Yes more private.

WESLEY CARR: I think it's more individuals deciding what they will do.

DAVID FROST: Yes the monarchy too has to change with the times and the church has to change with the times. So we've been talking about a slimmed down monarchy, maybe there'll also be a slimmed down Church of England?

WESLEY CARR: Well it is already but I think it's in very good shape for the next phase of its mission.

DAVID FROST: Very good and so you, what preparation will you do now, between now and Tuesday, I mean you know the words?

WESLEY CARR: Yes well we were all up at five o'clock this morning for the preparation and the Abbey was getting ready. We have a full day today of bits and pieces, rehearsals, a complete rehearsal tomorrow, tidy up any pieces in the afternoon, hope to have a good night's sleep and then do the service on Tuesday.

DAVID FROST: Because he was singing new words at the Diana funeral, Elton John on this couch the next morning said that because he was singing new words to, well he knew Candle in the Wind already with other words, but he did play safe by having an autocue there with the lyrics on. Do the people who take part in this service, yourself or the Archbishop of Canterbury, do, do, do you have an autocue?

WESLEY CARR: No, no we rely upon the books in our hands and of course it's, the service is natural and the television makes what it will of it, it doesn't actually control it in the same way.

DAVID FROST: No, this is an event to which television comes along to eavesdrop at this great time. Well thank you very much indeed for being with us, we're, we're very grateful. What shall we say? God bless you I suppose.

WESLEY CARR: That's very appropriate, thank you very much.

DAVID FROST: Thank you for being with us this morning.


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