Anglicans’ real views on Prince Charles and the coronation oath | Letters

Rt Rev Richard Atkinson questions the National Secular Society’s assertion that Prince Charles adopting the title ‘defender of faith’ would antagonise Anglicans; John Haigh says the Latin title fidei defensor would satisfy everybody

The National Secular Society must speak for its own members, estimated at 7,000–10,000. They don’t disclose figures themselves, but this number would fill two or three of our 42 cathedrals.

Their claim to speak for members of the Church of England when they say that Prince Charles adopting the title “defender of faith” on his coronation would antagonise many of our supporters is a mite presumptuous (Charles’s coronation could ‘open debate on church-state relationship’, 11 December). Prince Charles has held this view for nearly two decades and expressed it both in his words and actions. I would suggest that many Anglicans are familiar with the church’s neighbourliness to people of other faiths and in some places it is already embedded in their DNA.

In my own diocese of St Albans, as in many others, parishes enjoy warm contact and a shared commitment to acting for the common good. 

Perhaps the National Secular Society, rather than speaking for the Church of England, would like to share some of our concerns at this time of year for bringing care and cheer to the lonely, the poor and homeless, the hungry, the forgotten and all those including many of the foregoing who wish to celebrate the message of peace on Earth and goodwill to all, still so clearly needed in many places and hearts.
Rt Rev Richard Atkinson
Bishop of Bedford

• There is a simple solution for the coronation oath for Charles: he should use Latin, which had no definite or indefinite article, so that fidei defensor has the constructive ambiguity to mean either defender of the faith or simply defender of faith.
John Haigh

• Join the debate – email

• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit


The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Prince Charles to attend Cardinal Newman canonisation
Newman will be first English person born since 17th century to be declared a saint

Harriet Sherwood

11, Oct, 2019 @8:30 AM

Article image
Prince Charles accession 'could trigger debate on disestablishment'
National Secular Society report says Charles’s coronation could throw up questions about relationship between Church of England and state

Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent

10, Dec, 2017 @4:42 PM

Article image
Prince Charles rued 'monstrous wrongs' against bishop later convicted of abuse
Child abuse inquiry hears prince told Peter Ball in 1995: ‘I wish I could do more’

Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent

27, Jul, 2018 @12:06 PM

Article image
Prince Charles to give evidence on bishop to child abuse inquiry
Written submission will be read at hearing into how C of E handled case of Peter Ball

Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent

19, Jul, 2018 @10:47 AM

Article image
King Charles coronation oil is consecrated in Jerusalem
Oil has been created using olives from two groves on Mount of Olives, and a formula dating back centuries

Nadeem Badshah

03, Mar, 2023 @10:00 PM

Article image
Friendship with Prince Charles made paedophile bishop Peter Ball 'impregnable'
BBC2 documentary shows how establishment figures rallied round cleric

Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent

14, Jan, 2020 @11:13 AM

Article image
King Charles to be Defender of the Faith but also a defender of faiths
The King shares his mother’s religious devotion and has also shown great interest in non-Christian faiths

Harriet Sherwood

09, Sep, 2022 @3:20 PM

Article image
As Charles is bestowed with mystical powers, so much for a secular coronation | Catherine Bennett
The Church of England is doing its best to turn the new king and queen into latter-day deities

Catherine Bennett

16, Apr, 2023 @6:31 AM

Article image
Defender of all faiths? Coronation puts focus on King Charles’s beliefs
The crowning ceremony will be a deeply Christian affair. Will it be at odds with king’s desire to reflect UK’s religious diversity?

Harriet Sherwood

04, May, 2023 @3:00 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on Anglicans and gay clergy: stop listening, start leading | Editorial
Editorial: A whole generation of gay and lesbian Christians have been denied their place in the rituals of their faith


12, Feb, 2017 @8:06 PM