A new report has suggested that the Coronation Oath should be replaced by an ‘oath to the people’ when Prince Charles becomes King. The report by UCL Constitution Unit, a respected think tank, has produced a whole host of recommendations for the planning of The Prince of Wales’s accession after Her Majesty The Queen passes.
When he ascends the throne, Prince Charles will inherit The Queen’s title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England but the substantial change in Britain’s religious and cultural outlook since Her Majesty became Queen in 1952 has caused many to question whether the next Monarch should hold the title Defender of the Faith.
The title of Defender of the Faith was conferred on King Henry VIII by Pope Leo X in 1521 before the Tudor King’s split from the Catholic Church.
There are three statutory oaths that a new Monarch must swear at their Coronation; the Scottish Oath – to uphold the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the Accession Declaration oath – to be a true and faithful Protestant and the Coronation Oath – which includes promising to uphold the rights and privileges of the Church of England.
The report from UCL Constitution Unit suggests that these oaths need revising and updating as they ‘reflect a period of history that is now over’ and ‘the nature of religious belief in the UK has changed greatly’.
Suggestions from Professor Robert Hazell and Dr. Bob Morris suggest that the Scottish Oath become an oath for the Union, the Accession Declaration become an oath to uphold the constitution and our laws and the Coronation Oath become an oath to the people.
Such a change to the Coronation would require MPs to pass a law before Her Majesty The Queen’s passing and the study admits that the change would be a major upheaval – ‘It may not be easy to reach consensus’.
Dr. Bob Morris conceded, “The UK is now a much more diverse, pluralist and secular society. The Coronation needs to reflect that greater diversity; it will define not just the monarchy, but the whole nation whom the monarch is to represent.”