The 96-year-old head of state held a face-to-face audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Windsor Castle yesterday.
The Most Rev Justin Welby gave the Queen the small silver cross, inspired by a ninth century Saxon brooch and incorporating a triquetra pattern, as a “heartfelt symbol” of the church’s “love, loyalty and affection”.
It was a tribute to her outstanding service to the Church of England, and in honour of her Platinum Jubilee.
The Queen was photographed standing as she was shown the cross.
The monarch, who is facing ongoing mobility issues, shook hands with the archbishop as he entered the Oak Room sitting room in the Berkshire castle.
Presented in a vivid red box and attached to a blue ribbon, the cross was specially crafted for its royal recipient with platinum inserts in recognition of her milestone 70 years on the throne.
The Queen, who has a deep Christian faith, is supreme governor of the Church of England and dDefender of the Faith.
In the citation for the cross, which was also given to the Queen as a framed piece of calligraphy, the archbishop praised the monarch and hailed “her care for the unity of her people and the welfare of the least fortunate” as a “constant inspiration to the whole church”.
The Queen’s life was “an example of a Christian life well led,” he said.
The Canterbury Cross is presented each year as part of the annual Lambeth Awards to a small number of recipients who have shown outstanding service to the church.