King Charles III met with 30 faith leaders from various religions at a reception in Buckingham Palace on September 16 and vowed to protect the multiple faiths in Britain.
As he take his new role as supreme governor of the Church of England, the King said he believes that his responsibilities must include “protecting the space for faith itself” and defending the “religions, cultures, traditions and beliefs to which our hearts and minds direct us as individuals.” He announced his personal commitment to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and other religions in one of his first public audiences since his accession to the throne, reports The Guardian.
I am determined, as King, to preserve and promote those principles across all communities, and for all beliefs, with all my heart. —King Charles III
In his address to the faith leaders, he said, “I am a committed Anglican Christian, and at my coronation I will take an oath relating to the settlement of the Church of England. At my accession, I have already solemnly given – as has every sovereign over the last 300 years – an oath which pledges to maintain and preserve the Protestant faith in Scotland.”
The King said he always sees Britain as a “community of communities” and he is determined “to preserve and promote those principles across all communities, and for all beliefs, with all my heart.”
He continued, “It is the duty to protect the diversity of our country, including by protecting the space for Faith itself and its practice through the religions, cultures, traditions and beliefs to which our hearts and minds direct us as individuals.”
Commentators noted that the King’s meeting with faith leaders early in his reign marks the importance he puts on faith and his personal spiritual journey, according to Religion Media Center.
Previous reports speculated that the King would change the wording of his coronation to “Defender of Faith” or “Defender of the Faiths” in recognition of his advocacy of promoting interfaith dialogue. It was during an interview in 1994 when he floated this idea to reflect the nature of British society. However, he retained and pledged to be the “Defender of the Faith.”
Lord Singh of Wimbledon who has known King Charles for years disclosed that the King “sees faith more broadly than looking through it from one perspective of one religion. Faith really refers to commitment to an ultimate real reality. And that cannot be accommodated by any one religion. No one religion has a monopoly of truth. And I believe that is the way King Charles really sees it.”
Journalist and author Catherine Pepinster said the King’s statement would influence Christian leaders to follow suit. “The church will have to find a way to celebrate traditionalism yet find space for other denominations and religions. The coronation will be a real test both for him and the Church of England.”
Faith leaders who attended the meeting included the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby; the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell; the Dean of Westminster, David Hoyle; the Rev Helen Cameron of the Free Churches Group; Islamic scholar Dr Asim Yusuf; Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy; and Lord Singh of Wimbledon.