Tuesday 2 May 2023

Defender of the Faith


I will not be watching the coronation of King Charles III. This is partly because last year I decided to cease paying the TV licence and therefore no longer watch TV at all. I don’t miss it. I watch films sometimes on DVD and get all the rest of my information for free online.

But I could no doubt watch the coronation somewhere else. Perhaps there are pubs that will be broadcasting it like they sometimes do football matches. At this point you may cheer. At this point you may pledge allegiance. At this point you may sing along to the national anthem. But I won’t.

I am a monarchist. There is every chance that Charles III will be a good king. But I am uninterested in the monarchy.

I began to tire of the gossip as long ago as when Charles was married to Diana. I didn’t want to know who was sleeping with whom, what she was wearing or why she was sitting alone in front of the Taj Mahal. I didn’t also want to know about Fergie’s toe sucking or indeed why she continues to live with her ex-husband. I certainly did not want to know about Andrew’s friends or whether or not he slept with teenage prostitutes and whether those prostitutes were willing participants or had been in some way coerced.

My lack of interest and wish to avoid the whole story however peaked with Harry’s marriage and his simultaneous attempt to both take advantage of being the son of the king and take revenge on the whole family.

I remain a monarchist while wishing to see, read and hear as little as possible about the gossip, because the monarchy is something that Britain has had for many centuries. It is absolutely essential to the nature of our country, which could scarcely be imagined without it. Our history is the history of the various monarchs who have ruled. It is the reason we are a United Kingdom. It is the reason why Scotland merged with England first when a Scottish King became the heir to the English throne and second when that merger was formalised politically.

The monarchy is not therefore one king, one queen or indeed one family. It matters very little indeed what this king does or does not do. The actions of most kings are as soon forgotten as are the actions of most prime ministers.

But what I dislike most about the little that I have read about the coronation is the attempt to modernise it and make it multi-faith and multicultural.

It is absolutely the case that Charles III should be king of everyone who is British, wherever their family came from and whatever their religious beliefs or lack of them. But Queen Elizabeth II was that despite having a coronation which was exclusively Christian and where everyone attending was white. Queen Victoria was the Queen of Hindus and Muslims and Jews and Jains and Zoroastrians and atheists. But she didn’t change one word of her coronation to account for this. She didn’t need to.

She didn’t need to have that lady from Playschool anymore than she needed Hamble or Little Ted. The essence of monarchy is to not be inclusive. Only the son of Queen Elizabeth II can be king. To pretend that it is inclusive is to pretend that it is something that it is not.

I am quite happy for people of every faith and race in Britain to attend the coronation so long as I don’t have to. Let them enjoy the inclusivity of watching someone born to be king crowned. In egalitarian multicultural multifaith Britain I too could be king. Except you couldn’t and nor could any of us.

But I profoundly object to treating Christianity as one among many faiths. For the simple reason that I believe Christianity to be true and so ought Charles III otherwise he ought not to be king.

It is the RE approach to religion that I object to. Here are these Hindus and they believe in gods that look like elephants and gods that have many hands and they do these odd things on these holy days. Here are these Jews, they wear these funny clothes, and they believe these strange things and don’t eat this and don’t eat that. Here are these Christians, can you believe it they think that God became man and was born of a virgin and was killed but didn’t die. Isn’t it all just a lot of bunk that some poor gullible people believe.

Muslims ought to believe that the Quran is the word of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad received revelations from the Angel Jibril and these in time were collected to form the Quran. But Christians cannot believe this.

Muslims believe that Jesus was not the son of God. They don’t believe he died on the cross and they don’t believe that he was resurrected. Jews don’t believe this either, nor do Zoroastrians and nor do Hindus.

If Christianity is true, then all of the other religions that have been invited to the coronation are false. Christians don’t believe that there is a god called Krishna who is blue. We must think that the Jews were waiting for the Messiah but somehow missed him. We must disagree about the nature of the Quran and the Prophet.

This is not to insult anyone. I may admire Judaism and Islam and find Hinduism fascinating, without myself being Jewish a Muslim or a Hindu. Each follower of every religion ought to be allowed to believe that his religion is true and the other religions false. Atheists may believe that all religions are lies and nonsense. Agnostics may sit on the fence and say they just don’t know.

 But to present all religions as equal and to do so while pretending to be defender of the faith is nonsensical. Charles III would prefer no doubt to be defender of faith. But what value does faith in itself have if what the person who has it believes something that is false. If Christianity is not true, I would rather not be a Christian.

But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.


The point is exactly the same for the devout Hindu, Muslim and Jew. I am not arrogantly saying that I know the truth and you don’t. I merely have faith, but my faith is in something that I believe and hope to be true. For all I know the atheist might be right or alternatively someone from another religion might have the truth and I might be living in falsity. But in that case my faith would be vain and in vain.

The British monarchy is intimately connected with Christianity and in particular with Protestantism. If that were not the case then we would have a different monarch on the throne one descended from James II and it would not be Charles at the coronation, but someone else. Being defender of the faith is not some accidental historical oddity due to Henry VIII, it is the reason we have a king rather a president.

If Charles III thinks that all religions are equally lies and nonsense, which I strongly suspect he does, then his oath is founded on a pretence. Why should I watch someone lying even if he is unaware of the lie that he is telling because he thinks that everyone tells the truth even atheists?