Former Archbishop of Canterbury reveals late Queen told him: ‘I can’t resign’

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The late Queen told George Carey “I can’t resign” when the then-Archbishop of Canterbury announced he was stepping down, a new documentary reveals.

Lord Carey recounted his conversation with the monarch in The Real Crown: Inside the House of Windsor, a five-part ITV series, adding: “But she would never go anyway.”

He also describes how before Charles and Camilla married he arranged a secret meeting with the now Queen Consort, in the south-east London flat of his son, to get to know the future royal.

Queen Elizabeth II Lambeth Academy
Lord Carey spoke candidly about his conversation with the Queen (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Lord Carey, tells the final episode of the documentary series: “I remember going to see the Queen once to hand in my resignation and said: ‘Your Majesty the time has come.’

“And she looked at me, more or less she said: ‘You people come and go, I can’t resign, I can’t surrender – I’ve got to keep going’.

“And I said: ‘Well, the Lord tells me at the age of 70 I’ve got to go.’ But she would never go anyway.”

Lord Carey served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991-2002 and during his period in office took part in the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 and became the first Archbishop to ordain women to the priesthood.

Royal reception – The Reading Room anniversary
The Queen Consort had a secret meeting with the then Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey (Chris Jackson/PA)

He said: “She walked through the front door, we met and had coffee together and I was really struck by her.

“Very nice looking lady, very presentable, very intelligent, we had a really animated conversation.

“And we talked about her relationship with Charles, going way back to when they were teenagers and so on. And after she left, I said: ‘Well, there’s no way I could ever treat her as other than a really nice human being who’s deeply in love with Charles.’

“And that affected me in talking to other people behind the scenes and I hoped it had a way forward – I think it did.”

All five episodes of The Real Crown: Inside the House of Windsor are now available to screen on ITVX.

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