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Her Majesty the Queen has appointed a former parish minister as the next Dean of the Chapel Royal and Dean of the Order of the Thistle.

The position is mainly ceremonial and the new dean will take part in formal state occasions and will conduct national services.

Rev Professor David Fergusson retired from his role as Principal at the University of Edinburgh’s New College last year.

Professor Fergusson, who has been a Royal Chaplain since 2015, said: “I am very pleased to be succeeding Professor Iain Torrance as Dean of the Chapel Royal and Dean of the Order of the Thistle, both of which are distinguished Scottish institutions.

“It is an honour to serve the Queen and her family in this capacity, and I look forward to the time ahead.”

The new Dean will convene all 10 Royal Chaplains based in Scotland and he will take part in the annual ceremony of the Order of the Thistle at St Giles.

Professor Fergusson, who is from Glasgow, studied in his home city as well as at the universities of Edinburgh and Oxford, before being ordained as a Church of Scotland minister.

In 1990, he was appointed Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Aberdeen, and became Professor of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh a decade later.

Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, said “I am truly delighted, but not surprised, that Her Majesty The Queen has appointed Professor David Fergusson as Dean of the Chapel Royal.

“He is a superlative academic theologian of whom the University is justly proud, and he also cares deeply about the Church, regularly preaches, mentors students, and recently led the decisive Special Commission.

“To the role of Dean he will bring a sharp mind and also outstanding human qualities of reliability, faithfulness, approachability and efficiency.

“As Dean of the Thistle, he is a successor of his own teacher John McIntyre, another distinguished Principal of New College and I hope this gives him much satisfaction.”

Rev Prof David Fergusson PHOTO Andrew O’Brien