Thursday, November 13, 2008

Prince Charles at 60 (5)

The Telegraph reports, without any real evidence, that King Charles III will be known as "Defender of Faith" rather than "Defender of the [Anglican] Faith." I wonder what such tinkering would accomplish; after all, the original Latin (Fidei Defensor) would be unaffected.

I've never understood the idea that explicitly identifying the British monarch with Anglicanism is offensive to non-Anglicans. While it is true that I now attend an Episcopal church, I was once a very secular sort of a monarchist, and then for 2-3 years felt more or less aligned with Roman Catholicism; during neither of those periods did it ever occur to me that this particular title of Elizabeth II's would have somehow excluded me from the benefits of being one of her subjects, had I been lucky enough to be one. It seems to me that religious people of all faiths benefit from a monarchy that acknowledges a spiritual dimension and is committed to the defense of its own religious tradition, since one cannot truly defend them all. Even an atheist or agnostic ought to be able to acknowledge the special relationship that Christianity in general and Anglicanism in particular had with the development of British culture. The fact is that Britain for some time (especially since the 1829 Catholic Emancipation) has had a deserved reputation as a land tolerant of various faiths, and of secularism, for rather longer than many European countries, and the monarch's status as "Defender of the Faith" has not interfered with that. So why get rid of it now?

Additionally, it might be reasonably objected that changing the title to "Defender of Faith" implies a new and unnecessary opposition between the monarchy and modern Britain's many non-religious people, in a way that simply leaving it as it is does not.

An alert member of my forum pointed out that the Telegraph article's list of royal guests is rather remarkable in its errors. "Prince Mary" of Denmark should of course be "[Crown] Princess Mary," and "Felipe" and "Matilda" of Belgium should be "Philippe" and "Mathilde."


lotte said...

Additionally, I believe Frederik is spelled without the "c"

Theodore Harvey said...