The new supreme governor of the Church of England has vowed to protect all faiths in the UK, not just Christianity.
During a reception of faith leaders at Buckingham Palace on Friday, King Charles III described himself as “a committed Anglican” but explained he has a duty to “protect the diversity of our country, including protecting the space for Faith itself”.
It had been previously reported the King would change the wording of his coronation from “Defender of the Faith” to make himself “Defender of Faith” or “Defender of the Faiths” but Buckingham Palace has now confirmed he will not do so.
Instead, the King has publicly said he will “respect those who follow other spiritual paths, as well as those who seek to live their lives in accordance with secular ideals”.
Speaking to more than 30 faith leaders, King Charles 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.
“It is the duty to protect the diversity of our country, including by protecting the space for Faith itself and its practice through the religions, cultures, traditions and beliefs to which our hearts and minds direct us as individuals.”
He continued: “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.”
The King hosted the event in the Bow Room at Buckingham Palace, where the Queen’s coffin had rested on Tuesday before being moved to Westminster Hall.
The King also told attendants: “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.”
Earlier on Friday, Muslim and Jewish leaders joined the host of church leaders giving prayers at a service of prayer and reflection for the Queen in Wales.
The service took place at Llandaff Cathderal with the King and the Queen Consort in attendance.