Changes to King’s coronation oath ‘not ambitious’, says expert

- Advertisement -

The King’s coronation oath is to be updated to reflect the change in realms over which the British sovereign is monarch, but there appears to be no suggestion of the addition of a multi-faith or religious tolerance element.

The full text of Charles’s oath, which is a key part of his May 6 ceremony, has yet to be revealed.

But the Government confirmed in a written statement to Parliament that some of the wording will be amended because the number of Commonwealth realms has “evolved” since 1953.

The Coronation Oath Act of 1688 requires the King to declare during his crowning ceremony that he will maintain the established Anglican Protestant Church, rule according to laws agreed in Parliament, and cause law, justice and mercy to be executed in his judgment.

But Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden said on Wednesday: “Some updating to the wording of the oath is required to reflect the current position as regards the realms and territories, whose number has evolved since the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and who will be referred to collectively.”

He added that legislation was not being used to update the oath, emulating the approach explained by Sir Winston Churchill for the late Queen’s coronation in 1953.

Constitutional expert Dr Bob Morris said the changes were not “anything ambitious” and the decision had been taken not to give themselves enough time to make major changes.

He suggested any mention of religious tolerance or multi-faith would have required a change to the Act.

Dr Morris, of the Constitution Unit at University College London, said: “They’ve chosen not to give themselves enough time to review the oath because they could have done had they wished to do so.

“Amending the oath by statute is a very serious matter. You get all sorts of people coming out of the woodwork.”

He added: “They’re not doing anything ambitious. They explain the only alterations they are making are because of developments elsewhere.”

The Constitution Unit of UCL suggested possible amendments to the oath in the wake of the Queen’s death.

They included the proposed: “Will you to your power maintain tolerance and freedom, including religious tolerance; and will you seek to uphold the rights of all your Peoples to observe their different religions and beliefs without fear of persecution?”

The King has long been a passionate advocate of religious tolerance and caused controversy in 1994 when he spoke of his desire to become “Defender of Faith” rather than “Defender of the Faith” as monarch – raising the prospect of a major change in the ancient relationship between the Church of England and the monarchy.

Jonathan Dimbleby, in his 1994 official biography of Charles, wrote how advisers believed the oath could be modified to meet the prince’s vision of his spiritual role.

Dimbleby also suggested others thought it would be possible to include a supplementary declaration at the coronation affirming Charles’s belief in the divinity of other religions.

Charles said in 2015 that he believed it was possible to be “Defender of the Faith” as well as being a protector of faiths, and he was proclaimed Defender of the Faith at his Accession Council in September.

In a reception for faith leaders after the Queen’s death, he described himself as a “committed Anglican Christian”, saying he would take “an oath at his coronation relating to the settlement of the Church of England”.

But he said he believed the sovereign has a less formally recognised additional 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”.

ROYAL Coronation Poll
(PA Graphics)

Having answered the three parts, he will kiss a Bible and declare: “The things which I have here before promised I will perform and keep so help me God.”

Elizabeth II’s oath included a pledge to govern the people of South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon – now Sri Lanka – but all three countries have since become republics.

Charles is monarch of the UK and 14 Commonwealth realms but the monarchy’s future role in some of the nations looks set to change, with Jamaica, Belize and Antigua and Barbuda raising the prospect of becoming republics.

Mr Dowden said the realms would be referred to “collectively” rather than being listed in full.

If the King uses the wording of the late Queen’s oath regarding the Protestant religion, he will be asked in this third section: “Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law?

“Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England?

“And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?”

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.