What Religion Is the Royal Family? Queen Elizabeth II's Church of England Beliefs

·2 min read
What Religion Is the Royal Family? Queen Elizabeth II's Church of England Beliefs

The world is bidding farewell to Queen Elizabeth II. After Britain's longest-reigning monarch died at the age of 96 on September 8, a series of events unfolded honoring her incredible legacy. Following a journey from Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where she died, Queen Elizabeth's funeral was held at Windsor Castle in England.

Apart from people asking where Queen Elizabeth will be buried, many are wondering what religion the royal family practices. Before King Charles III ascended to the throne, Queen Elizabeth was the Supreme Governor and Defender of the Faith of the Church of England, the state church of England that broke with Roman Catholicism in the 16th century.

According to the royal family’s website, these titles date back to King Henry VIII’s reign when he was given the title “Defender of the Faith” by Pope Leo X in 1521. However, when the pope refused to annul Henry VIII’s marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, after she failed to produce a male heir to the throne, the king renounced the Papacy’s authority in 1534 and divorced her.

Photo credit: Samir Hussein - Getty Images
Photo credit: Samir Hussein - Getty Images

After this historical break with Rome, Henry VIII established himself as the "the only supreme head of the Church of England called Anglicana Ecclesia,” according to the BBC.

While Mary I tried to restore Roman Catholicism in England, her sister Elizabeth I declared herself the “Supreme Governor” of the Church of England when she took over the crown in 1558. Since then, the royal family has practiced Anglicanism, a form of Christianity.

Following in Queen Elizabeth's footsteps, King Charles is now acknowledged as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Even so, the Archbishop of Canterbury is the head cleric of the church.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

At the Queen’s 1953 coronation, the Archbishop of Canterbury anointed her and she took an oath to "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.”

As the Church of England spread throughout the world, it took on different names in different countries. This group of separate churches are known as the Anglican Communion, but the mother church is still the Church of England with the Archbishop of Canterbury as the united head of the communion.

For Prince Louis's christening in July 2018, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, performed the ceremony at The Royal Chapel at St. James's Palace in London. Welby also officiated Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding in May earlier that year and baptized Meghan into the Church of England in March.

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