An Irvine minister paid tribute to the Queen as he remembered how ‘privileged’ he was to be Her Majesty’s chaplain for a weekend.

The Rev Neil Urquhart recalled the ‘surreal’ experience he had after he was invited to preach for the late monarch back in September 2017.

The Fullarton Parish Church minister, speaking before his evening service on Sunday, said: “I was recommended to be the Queen’s Chaplain for that weekend.

“Ken MacKenzie, the minister at Crathie, who was the Chaplain to the Queen when she was there, is a good friend and I joined him to preach at Braemar and  then went to Crathie to take the service. 

“It was surreal in that I was spending time with Her Majesty. I arrived  at Balmoral on the Saturday at 6pm and was shown to her drawing room where she was playing Patience.

“She did a bit of research on me so she knew a lot about me. She knew a lot about Irvine as she had been here.

“We then had a barbecue on the hill and I was sitting in the car without safety belts as it’s her ground. I asked about some of the horses based there and had a great passion for them. She also spoke about her race horses – she had 20 seconds and 18 wins.

“I said grace at two meals and spoke to me, she was very chatty. She was interested in the Church of Scotland.

“When she talked to you, you were the only person who mattered.”

He added: “She was a very popular Queen, a devoted Queen, loyal, humble, down to earth and a remarkable lady and I was struck at how personable she was. She served right to the last.

“Hopefully people will be inspired by her qualities and values of faithfulness, loyalty, humility and courage.

“The national public had great esteem and affection for her.

“She described faith as her rock as her source of inspiration and strength many a time as she often said at Christmas.”

The Rev Neil also met the future King at Balmoral that weekend and was also struck with his common touch.

He said: “I met  Charles and Camilla at the morning service and he was very interesting as well. We spoke about Dumfries House, which is nearby.”