Queen Elizabeth II and the Church of England: The late monarch’s religious beliefs

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Queen Elizabeth II will be buried at a state funeral at Westminster Abbey in London on Monday September 19, 2022.

The Queen died on September 8, 2022, aged 96, at her Scottish castle, Balmoral.

Queen Elizabeth II was a member of the Church of England.

Sometimes called the Anglican Church, the Church of England is part of the Anglican Communion, which itself contains different branches of Christianity, such as the Protestant Episcopal Church, according to History.com.

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The Church of England is the “principal state church” in England and claims to be both Catholic and Reformed, the same source notes.

The church “supports the teachings found in early Christian doctrines, such as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed”, and “also venerates the ideas of the 16th century Protestant Reformation described in texts, such as the Thirty- Nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer”. it notes too.

Queen Elizabeth II was a member of the Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church.
(Photo by James Whatling – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Jonathan Neil-Smith, former secretary of the Commission on Dioceses and the House of Clergy, as well as secretary of the House of Bishops, told Fox News Digital via email that all monarchs must “either be a member of the Church of England” or “of a Church in communion with her”.

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Neil-Smith, who is from Surrey, England, also said: “We have been richly blessed to have had a monarch in the person of the late Queen Elizabeth who shared in the life of the Church of England and exposition of the teachings of Jesus Christ, referring to them regularly in his annual Christmas broadcasts.”

“The Christian belief meant a lot to the Queen”

The Queen’s passing is “the end of an era, a major shift,” Professor Murray Pittock, a Scottish historian and Bradley Professor of Literature at the University of Glasgow in Glasgow, Scotland, told Fox News Digital during from a recent telephone interview.

“The Queen has led a long life” and she has “spent herself very well”, he said.

Bishop of Derby Right Rev.  Libby Lane (right, foreground) sings during a celebratory service to mark the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women into the Church of England, at Lambeth Palace, London.

Bishop of Derby Right Rev. Libby Lane (right, foreground) sings during a celebratory service to mark the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women into the Church of England, at Lambeth Palace, London.
(Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)

“She had this general sense of duty at the expense of personal pleasure, which is not very common these days,” he added.

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“Christian belief meant a lot to the Queen,” Pittock said.

“And it seems to me that means a lot to King Charles as well.”

In 1977, as part of her Silver Jubilee, “Her late Majesty visited Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral,” Neil-Smith said.

“This was the first visit to a Roman Catholic cathedral by an English monarch since the Reformation.”

Passers-by and traffic are seen in front of Westminster Abbey.  On September 19, the Queen's funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey.

Passers-by and traffic are seen in front of Westminster Abbey. On September 19, the Queen’s funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey.
(Photo by Christian Charisius/Picture Alliance via Getty Images)

He continued: “In 1961, Her late Majesty met Pope John XXIII in Rome. She also received Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI during their visits to the UK, in 1982 and 2010, respectively. .”

He added: “Through these highly symbolic actions, Her Majesty has played her part in healing the historic rift between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.”

“[The Queen] had this all-encompassing, overriding sense of duty at the expense of personal enjoyment; something that is not very common these days.”

Neil-Smith said “the new king is also known to take his faith seriously, and we pray that he will be strengthened in his new role.”

“Creation of the English Monarchy”

The Church of England is itself “a creation of the English monarchy”, Pittock said, due to “the requirement that bishops of the Catholic Church of England observe royal supremacy”.

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This creation began with Henry VIII, in 1534, because he “essentially wanted the right to divorce Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn”, notes Pittock.

Queen Elizabeth II receives Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at Windsor Castle.  He presented her with a special gift

Queen Elizabeth II receives Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at Windsor Castle. He presented her with a special “Canterbury Cross” for her service to the Church of England and a Citation for the Cross, which was presented as a framed calligraphy on June 21, 2022.
(Photo by Andrew Matthews – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

(His marriage to Catherine has been annulled.)

“There is a struggle and then the king becomes the head of the Church of England – which is really the idea that the monarch is supreme over the pope in matters of church appointments and governance” , explained Pittock.

“And in 1558, when Elizabeth [Queen Elizabeth I] ascends the throne, she adopts the title of supreme governor. This is the title the Crown still holds to the Church of England,” he continued.

“Interestingly, King Charles is also a member of the Church of Scotland while in Scotland, as is the Queen.”

As Supreme Governor, the monarch “formally appoints high-ranking members of the church on the advice of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom”, who is, in turn, “advised by church leaders, such as the Spiritual Lords”. Notes .com.

“It’s a role that doesn’t quite make sense – a detached role,” Pittock said.

“This means that the appointment of bishops, who are effectively the Crown nominees, are in effect a bit like parliamentary legislators, now effectively signed off by the parliamentary executive and accepted by the monarch.”

On September 17, 2022, members of the public walk past Westminster Abbey, where Queen Elizabeth II's funeral will take place in London on Monday.

On September 17, 2022, members of the public walk past Westminster Abbey, where Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral will take place in London on Monday.
(BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Neil-Smith explained the coronation of monarchs as it relates to the church.

“English monarchs have been crowned at a church service which an English bishop – normally the Archbishop of Canterbury – has presided over since [King] Edgar’s coronation in 973,” he said.

“In this deeply religious service,” he continued, “which bears many similarities to the ordination of a priest or bishop, the monarch is both crowned and anointed. As part of the anointing ceremony, prayers are recited asking the Holy Spirit to sanctify the monarch.”

“The new king is also known to take his faith seriously, and we pray that he will be strengthened in his new role.”

Church bishops play a legislative role in Britain, according to History.com.

Twenty-six bishops sit in the House of Lords, they note, and are called “Lords Spiritual”.

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“Interestingly, King Charles is also a member of the Church of Scotland while in Scotland, as is the Queen,” Pittock added.

“They are both Anglican and Presbyterian when in Scotland,” he said.

The guard is changed as members of the public file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial Crown of State and the Sovereign's Orb and Scepter, lying in state on the catafalque of Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster in London, September 17, 2022.

The guard is changed as members of the public file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped in the Royal Standard with the Imperial Crown of State and the Sovereign’s Orb and Scepter, lying in state on the catafalque of Westminster Hall, at the Palace of Westminster in London, September 17, 2022.
((Yui Mok/Pool photo via AP))

“Interestingly, the American Episcopal Church, which of course is part of the Anglican Communion, was actually not founded by the Church of England but by the Episcopal Church of Scotland – because this church did not at that time [in history] recognize the monarchy,” he said.

Church of England beliefs

The church upholds many Roman Catholic customs, but it also embraces fundamental ideas adopted during the Protestant Reformation, according to History.com.

Other facts the site conveys about the Church of England:

The Church of England maintains a traditional Catholic order system which includes ordained bishops, priests and deacons.

The church follows an episcopal form of government, divided into two provinces: Canterbury and York. The provinces are separated into dioceses, which are headed by bishops and include parishes.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury is believed to be the most senior cleric in the church.

Each year around 9.4 million people visit a Church of England cathedral.

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