New reports call for more secular coronation for Prince Charles

By agency reporter
May 25, 2018

Two new reports published by University College London’s The Constitution Unit think tank have proposed that the swearing of royal oaths and coronation ceremony accompanying the accession of Prince Charles to the throne should remove most religious elements to better reflect "a more secular and diverse society and a more decentralised Union state". Humanists UK, which campaigns for the disestablishment of the Churches of England and Scotland, and for the removal of religious privileges from communal institutions, has welcomed these proposals.

In the first report, which focuses on the swearing of royal oaths, Professor Robert Hazell and Dr Bob Morris propose replacing the oath to be a faithful Protestant and preserve the privileges of the Church of England with an oath to preserve the Union of the United Kingdom and to uphold our laws and constitution.

Professor Hazell commented, "The three statutory oaths which the new monarch must swear date originally from 1688-1707, when Catholic Europe was seen as an existential threat. In our more secular and pluralist society, they need to be revised and updated. But any significant revision would require fresh legislation. To be in time for the next accession, legislation would need to be passed during the present reign." 

The second report calls for coronation and accession ceremonies that better reflects religious and belief diversity. The Executive Summary states, "the UK is a much more diverse, pluralist and secular society compared with 1952. Half the population have no religious affiliation. Only six per cent attend religious services, with only one-two per cent being attending Anglicans. Eleven per cent are from ethnic minorities." The ceremony would focus more on civil society than religious observance with representatives of non-Anglican religions and those of non-religious beliefs participating.  

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Polic,y Richy Thompso,n commented: "We very much support the findings of these two reports. We are committed to the principle of secularism – that in an open and democratic society our shared institutions, such as the office of the head of state, should treat all citizens on equal terms. This means that one set of religious beliefs, such as Anglicanism, should not be privileged over any other. Reform of the accession and coronation ceremonies has become all the more needed as the composition of the UK has become increasingly secular and diverse in its beliefs. It is also time that these changes are reflected in state ceremonies including the National Remembrance Service."

* Read Swearing in the new King: The Accession Declarations and Coronation Oaths here

* Read Inaugurating a new reign: Planning for Accession and Coronation here

* Humanists UK


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