King tells faith leaders he has personal duty ‘to protect diversity of our country’

·3-min read

The King has said he has a personal “duty to protect the diversity of our country”.

Charles told more than 30 faith leaders from various religions at a reception in Buckingham Palace that as Sovereign he believes his work must include “protecting the space for faith itself” and the valued differences which people live by.

He said: “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.

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King Charles speaks to Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (Aaron Chown/PA)

“It is the duty to protect the diversity of our country, including by protecting the space for faith itself and its practise through the religions, cultures, traditions and beliefs to which our hearts and minds direct us as individuals.”

The King told the reception in the Bow Room at Buckingham Palace how much their words of condolence meant to him after the death of his mother the Queen last week.

He added: “I also wanted, before all of you today, to confirm my determination to carry out my responsibilities as Sovereign of all communities around this country and the Commonwealth and in a way which reflects the world in which we now live.”

Charles said his own Christian beliefs “have love at their very heart” and that they “bound” him to respect those following other religious paths.

He said: “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.

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Faith leaders during the reception (Aaron Chown/PA)

“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.”

The King described himself as a “committed Anglican Christian” who at his coronation will take an oath relating to the settlement of the Church of England.

He noted he has already “solemnly” given an oath at his accession ceremony which pledges to maintain and preserve the Protestant faith in Scotland.

There was a gentle ripple of applause as the King left the Bow Room at the palace, stopped for a second, waved and left.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, the Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev David Hoyle, and Rev Helen Cameron of the Free Churches Group, were among those who attended the reception.

Imam and Islamic scholar Dr Asim Yusuf and Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy were also among the guests.