King Charles III has pledged to uphold the “additional duty” as a new monarch of protecting the diversity of the UK and be a sovereign of all communities around the Commonwealth.
Addressing a group of faith leaders on Friday evening in the Bow Room at Buckingham Palace, where just days before his mother Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin lay in rest before its final journey to Westminster Hall, the 73-year-old royal said he has always thought of Britain as a “community of communities”.
As a committed Anglican Christian, Charles said he believed in protecting the space for all faiths, building on the foundation laid by his “beloved mother”.
“I have always thought of Britain as a community of communities,” the King said in an address to around 30 faith leaders invited to the palace.
“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 practise through the religions, cultures, traditions, and beliefs to which our hearts and minds direct us as individuals,” he said.
“This diversity is not just enshrined in the laws of our country, it is enjoined by my own faith,” he said.
The King noted that at his coronation, expected next year, he will take an oath relating to the “settlement of the Church of England” and on his accession, he has already followed in the footsteps of other monarchs in history by taking an oath which pledges to maintain and preserve the Protestant faith in Scotland.
However, as a member of the Church of England, he said his Christian beliefs have love at their very heart and he feels 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,” he said.
“I am determined, as King, to preserve and promote those principles across all communities, and for all beliefs, with all my heart,” he added.
Among those present at the gathering included priests of the Catholic church, Greek Orthodox church, and Church of Scotland as well as the Head Rabbi of London and a Zoroastrian priest.
Soon after the reception, Charles made his way to observe a vigil by the coffin of the late Queen, who is Lying-in-State at Westminster Hall in London until her state funeral on Monday. At the vigil, he was joined by his younger siblings – Princess Anne and Princes Andrew and Edward.