King Charles III has spoken out about his determination to “protect the diversity of our country”.
Speaking to faith leaders at a reception at Buckingham Palace, the King emphasised his own strong Christian faith. Queen Elizabeth II became more outspoken during her later life about the importance of her own faith.
As Prince of Wales, the King had made it clear that he wished to be regarded as defender of faith as well as Defender of the Faith.
The meeting was moved from 6pm to 5pm to allow Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to attend and leave in time to get home before Shabbat began at 7pm this evening.
Among those present was Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who afterwards tweeted: “Earlier today I was privileged to be part of an audience with King Charles. In my conversation with him, I assured him that Catholics had continued in heartfelt prayer for his mother. He expressed his gratitude and asked me to ensure that Catholics know of his thanks and gratitude.”
Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby earlier joined the chaplaincy faith team walking alongside the queue of those waiting to pay their respects to the late Queen at the Lying in State in the Palace of Westminster.
King Charles told more than 30 leaders from different faiths, at the reception in the Bow Room at the palace: “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.
“I have always thought of Britain as a ‘community of communities’. That has led me to understand that the sovereign has an additional duty – less formally recognised but to be no less diligently discharged.
“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. This diversity is not just enshrined in the laws of our country, it is enjoined by my own faith.
“As a member of the Church of England, my Christian beliefs have love at their very heart. By my most profound convictions, therefore – as well as by my position as sovereign – I hold myself bound to respect those who follow other spiritual paths, as well as those who seek to live their lives in accordance with secular ideals.
“The beliefs that flourish in, and contribute to, our richly diverse society differ. They, and our society, can only thrive through a clear collective commitment to those vital principles of freedom of conscience, generosity of spirit and care for others which are, to me, the essence of our nationhood.
“I am determined, as King, to preserve and promote those principles across all communities, and for all beliefs, with all my heart.
“This conviction was the foundation of everything my beloved mother did for our country, over her years as our Queen. It has been the foundation of my own work as Prince of Wales. It will continue to be the foundation of all my work as King.”