Faith woven into the start of King Charles III reign

Image credit: The Royal Family

King Charles III has formally taken on the duties of the monarchy in an accession ceremony,  with proclamations delivered in all nations within the UK.

He becomes the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and churches and cathedrals are closely involved in the ceremonies that signal his new role. The Association of English Cathedrals represents 42 places which are always open during this period of transition and mourning, offering places of remembrance throughout the nation. It issued a special prayer: “Everlasting God, we pray for our new King. Bless his reign and the life of our nation. Help us to work together so that truth and justice, harmony and fairness flourish among us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”.

Defender of the Faith

At the start of his reign, the King gave an emphatic commitment to defending the faith. 

This was a live issue because in 1994 he floated the idea that his title should be “Defender of Faith”, not “the faith”, in order to reflect the multi faith nature of British society.  In 2015 he said this had been frequently misinterpreted and “Defender of the Faith”  was compatible with being a “protector of faiths” more generally.

In a declaration to the accession council on Saturday, King Charles III took the oath to defend the security of the Presbyterian government of the Church of Scotland. The words included the commitment to “defend the faith”. The Monarch’s duty to “preserve the settlement of the true Protestant religion as established by the laws made in Scotland” was affirmed in the 1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland. The Church of Scotland  explains that it is a Presbyterian church and recognises only Jesus Christ as ‘King and Head of the Church’. King Charles, therefore, does not hold the title ‘Supreme Governor’ of the Church of Scotland and when attending Church services in Scotland His Majesty does so as an ordinary member.

The full wording is here: “I, Charles the Third, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of My other Realms and Territories, King, Defender of the Faith, do faithfully promise and swear that I shall inviolably maintain and preserve the Settlement of the true Protestant Religion as established by the Laws made in Scotland in prosecution of the Claim of Right and particularly by an Act intituled “An Act for securing the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government” and by the Acts passed in the Parliament of both Kingdoms for Union of the two Kingdoms, together with the Government, Worship, Discipline, Rights and Privileges of the Church of Scotland”.

The proclamation read in towns and cities throughout the land

”Whereas it has pleased almighty God to call to his mercy our late Sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth II of blessed and glorious memory, by whose decease the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is solely and rightfully come to the Prince Charles Philip Arthur George. We, therefore, the lords spiritual and temporal of this realm, and members of the House of Commons, together with other members of Her late Majesty’s Privy Council, and representatives of the realms and territories, aldermen, and citizens of London and others, do now hereby, with one voice and consent of tongue and heart, publish and proclaim that the Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, is now, by the death of our late Sovereign of happy memory, become our only lawful and rightful liege lord, Charles III, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, and of his other realms and territories, King, head of the Commonwealth, defender of the faith, to whom we do acknowledge all faith and obedience with humble affection, beseeching God, by whom kings and queens do reign, to bless His Majesty with long and happy years to reign over us.”

King Charles III: “deep roots of faith within the Church of England

In a recorded address to the nation delivered at the start of a service of remembrance for the Queen, he said:  “The role and the duties of monarchy also remain, as does the Sovereign’s particular relationship and responsibility towards the Church of England — the Church in which my own faith is so deeply rooted. In that faith, and the values it inspires, I have been brought up to cherish a sense of duty to others, and to hold in the greatest respect the precious traditions, freedoms, and responsibilities of our unique history and our system of parliamentary government.”

The King on a visit to Cambridge: “There’s a lot of sense in the Quran”

Abdal Hakim Murad, otherwise known as Dr Tim Winter, a theologian and Islamic scholar, who is Shaykh Zayed Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge, revealed that King Charles had learned Arabic to understand the Quran. In a film posted on social media by Cambridge Central Mosque,  he said:  “He has gone out of his way to make positive remarks about Islam. Everybody knows this. He likes Islamic gardens, art and textiles. When he came to Cambridge years ago – not on an official visit – he wanted to talk about the Quran. ‘There’s a lot of sense in the Quran’,  I heard him say. He could have talked about anything else in the university but that was what was interesting to him. God has taken him on this particular journey that overcomes this stupid binary east and west, Muslim and non-Muslim, immigrant and all of that. He wants to overcome it and that deserves some credit”.

Audience for the Archbishop of Canterbury

On Saturday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, met the King and Queen Consort, during a series of audiences which included the Prime Minister and Members of the Cabinet, and Opposition Party Leaders. In Parliament, he and other senior members of the House of Lords, took the oath and swore allegiance to the King.

Archbishop of York: May he reign with wisdom

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, tweeted: “Pray for our new King proclaimed this morning. May he reign with wisdom and integrity after the example of his mother of blessed memory”.

Pope Francis: an abundance of divine blessings

Pope Francis sent a message to the King: “Commending her noble soul to the merciful goodness of our Heavenly Father, I assure Your Majesty of my prayers that Almighty God will sustain you with his unfailing grace as you now take up your high responsibilities as King. Upon you and all who cherish the memory of your late mother, I invoke an abundance of divine blessings as a pledge of comfort and strength in the Lord”.

Cardinal Nichols: the regard and affection of Catholics

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, leader of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wells, issued a statement thanking Pope Francis for his “gracious message to our new Sovereign,” and assured the new King “of the regard and affection and prayer of the Catholics of this country and of many, many other people too.”

King Charles III greeted with acclaim by Jewish community

Rabbi Jonathan Romain, from the Reformed tradition and the synagogue in Maidenhead, welcomed Charles as king . In an article in the Jewish Chronicle he said King Charles’ accession to the throne had been greeted with acclaim by our community: “Unlike Elizabeth II, he has visited Israel and has a strong sense of its achievements… In Britain, he has visited numerous Jewish institutions and is patron of organisations such as World Jewish Relief and the Jewish Lads’ and Girls’ Brigade. He has also shown acute awareness of horrors of the Holocaust and often met survivors…  More generally, it is clear that Prince Charles holds an inclusive attitude to British society at large … there is little doubt that the Coronation ceremony itself will have representatives from other faiths either present or having a role in the ceremony. It will still be a Church of England service, but it will reflect the multi-faith nature of the country over which he is to reign”.


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