(RNS) Church-state ties on full display at royal wedding

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Prince William and Kate Middleton walk down the aisle at Westminster Abbey on Friday (April 29), Britain’s unique and historic ties between church and state will be on full display.

Some here think—even hope—it could also be the last powerful stroll for church and state in this increasingly secular country.

As the Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev. John Hall, and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams prepare to conduct and solemnize the wedding of the century, both Christians and prominent and powerful nonbelievers are raising their voices and demanding the disestablishment the Church of England that has dominated religious life here for 400 years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

24 Comments
Posted April 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Teatime2 wrote:

Well, this gloomy piece was written before the wedding. I don’t think that the wedding response bears it out.

April 29, 9:49 pm | [comment link]
2. Nikolaus wrote:

Gloomy?  What I see as gloomy is the incessant press to conform the church to secular society.  Tethered to Parliament as it is, the Church of England is utterly defenseless and incapable of fully proclaiming the Gospel.

April 29, 10:45 pm | [comment link]
3. Teatime2 wrote:

#2—They did quite a good job of proclaiming Christian beliefs and values at the wedding.

April 29, 10:49 pm | [comment link]
4. art wrote:

I agree teatime2.  Notable too was the older form of the wedding service according to 1662 BCP, where, among other things, the “ends of marriage” are boldly declared right up front!

April 30, 12:11 am | [comment link]
5. Teatime2 wrote:

Ah, was it the 1662 BCP then, art? The commentator I was listening to during the ceremony said it was the 1928 prayer book and that didn’t seem right to me.

I really appreciated the beautiful language. As I wrote on another thread, Prince Charles is a member of the Prayer Book Society and is very interested in the BCP and liturgical music. He, William and Kate (along with the bishops, I’d imagine) apparently spent a lot of time working on the service and were sending each other hymns and selections to review on their Ipods, according to a report I heard.

April 30, 1:28 am | [comment link]
6. Iohannes wrote:

#5—I had no idea Prince Charles was patron of the Prayer Book Society. Thanks for that tidbit. I watched the service with my 1662 BCP open and remember noticing a few differences, viz. lines omitted, and words changed, like “law” instead of “ordinance,” “honor” instead of “worship,” and no “obey.” The changes seemed to mirror the form in the Shorter Prayer Book, which I think was based on the proposed 1928 book, but am not sure.

April 30, 1:47 am | [comment link]
7. art wrote:

ah teatime 2; I stand corrected!  It was I suspect indeed the 1928 proposed “Alternative Form of Solemnization of Holy Matrimony”, which I now have open in front of me ...

April 30, 2:51 am | [comment link]
8. Teatime2 wrote:

Apparently, Prince Charles is a big fan of Alpha, too. I found this when looking for info on the prayer books.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7025412.ece
Here’s a bit about him and the Prayer Book Society.
http://www.christiantoday.com/article/prince.charles.praises.book.of.common.prayer/7655.htm

April 30, 3:33 am | [comment link]
9. kmh1 wrote:

#8: Ah, if only he could extend that enthusiasm to the Ten Commandments.

April 30, 3:58 am | [comment link]
10. TACit wrote:

Prince Charles is also the patron of the King James Bible Trust, and there was an article mentioning this could have led to an issue with James Middleton reading from the RSV, but they seem to have reached accord.  Thinking about the Church-state ties I realized it interests me even more to observe their human dimension, and it was a shame that Queen Sofia of Spain with her son and his wife didn’t rate more than a couple of quick views.  Sofia is a first cousin once removed of Prince Philip through the Greek royal family, and apparently also related to QE II through Victoria and others.  Her stand for orthodox Christian mores in society in Spain in the face of the Zapatero leftist politics and anti-Church campaign has been laudable and her presence at yesterday’s wedding should have encouraged those who know.

April 30, 4:39 am | [comment link]
11. Sarah wrote:

Prince Charles is also the same loony guy who has wanted his various oaths to include “defender of faiths” rather than “defender of the faith.”

April 30, 6:58 am | [comment link]
12. Jackson wrote:

Be mindful that the Prince is a patron to over 350 charities.

April 30, 7:35 am | [comment link]
13. Teatime2 wrote:

Sarah, I believe it was “defender of faith” he favored. That was what one of the articles I linked said. Makes sense on two levels—first, that Britain in multi-faith and multi-cultural now and defending “faith” is important for all to be able to worship freely. He hasn’t suggested eschewing the role as Supreme Governor of the C of E. Secondly, the defender of the faith title came from the Vatican. Considering that—and the fact that “the faith” in its original context would mean the RCC—it probably should have been changed to either the “reformed faith” or simply “faith” long ago.

Jackson, yes, he has many patronages. But if you Google him and the Prayer Book Society, you’ll see that he’s quite active in it and believes strongly in it.

Art, it looks like we’re both right! According to the Living Church article, the service they used has elements of both!

The couple chose the 1966 Series One liturgy, which closely resembles the 1662 Book of Common Prayer Liturgy, and a proposed Book of Common Prayer revision in 1928, though the bride did not undertake to “obey.”

I admittedly have a soft spot for Charles. He had an upbringing that didn’t nurture his sensitive nature and was most often left with the royal staff. And he always did love Camilla—she was his choice when he was young but the family didn’t feel she was suitable. And, of course, she didn’t wait to see if things could be worked out and she married Andrew Parker Bowles when Charles was away on military duty. Diana was chosen for him because of her aristocratic background, her youth and virginity. She was too young for him; they were ill-suited.

I obviously don’t condone his carryings-on with Camilla but, when you think about it, she was his one, real love and he stayed true to her. Marrying Diana was arranged and forced on him. Everyone focuses on Diana’s suffering and, yes, that was tragic but Charles suffered, too. Diana was a good mum (aside from drawing William into the drama) but Charles has been a good father to those boys, which is rarely ever acknowledged.

Thank goodness the House of Windsor learned big lessons from the tragedy of Diana and Charles. Prince Edward married a commoner and is very happy. I read that his wife, Sophie, is a favorite of the Queen because she is so down-to-Earth and even-tempered and the Queen really likes the new Duchess Catherine for the same reasons.

April 30, 4:29 pm | [comment link]
14. farstrider+ wrote:

Considering that—and the fact that “the faith” in its original context would mean the RCC—it probably should have been changed to either the “reformed faith” or simply “faith” long ago

This is where I (and others, no doubt) would beg to differ. From the Anglican perspective the Church of England is the Catholic Church in England, reformed. As such, it is entirely appropriate for the monarch to maintain the title “Defender of the Faith.” The Church of England is, to paraphrase Bishop Bramhall, “the same garden, but weeded.”

Don’t get me wrong. I know you won’t agree… Romans can’t accept this view, as (for them) “the faith” is intrinsically bound up with St Peter’s chair.

You’ll understand why we don’t take too kindly to Romans trying to determine for us whether or not the Faith embodied in (traditional) Anglicanism is the Faith of the Catholic Church, though.

April 30, 5:09 pm | [comment link]
15. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Makes sense on two levels—first, that Britain in multi-faith and multi-cultural now and defending “faith” is important for all to be able to worship freely.”

I don’t think that makes sense at all.  Britain is—constitutionally and canonically—established as a Christian nation and its monarch is to defend the Faith—that is, Christianity—by his vows.  The notion of defending “faiths”—or even worse, the even more generic “faith”—is just the sort of silly liberal tripe that Charles has consistently touted about any number of subjects.  I can well imagine KJS taking up the phrase asap, since it suits her as well.

There is no need for the monarch to defend the Islamic or Buddhist faith in England—freedom of religion is already allowed anyway under law.  But there are all sorts of reasons for the monarch to defend—and promote—the Faith, unless you’re opposed to a monarchy in general, and wish to move to a Republican form of government.  And in that case, I’m fine with having no pretensions at all to “defending faiths”—they can simply copy and paste our Constitution for their own.

But they have a monarch, and he is, constitutionally supposed to defend the Christian faith since that is the faith of the land [whether it is or not].

RE: “Secondly, the defender of the faith title came from the Vatican. Considering that—and the fact that “the faith” in its original context would mean the RCC—it probably should have been changed to either the “reformed faith” or simply “faith” long ago.”

Oh, I rather relish the co-opting of that term, as the RCs do not have a monopoly on “the faith” though some might fancy they do.  I’m extremely glad that they kept that title, since they were determined that Roman Catholicism has nothing exclusively to do with being the defender of *the Faith*.

April 30, 5:16 pm | [comment link]
16. Teatime2 wrote:

Very good comments, farstrider+ and Sarah. I see your points.
Farstrider+, I am not Roman, nor was I trying to promote the Roman point of view. Quite the contrary, actually, lol. But I understand what you say about catholicity and heartily agree.

April 30, 6:14 pm | [comment link]
17. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

“And, of course, she didn’t wait to see if things could be worked out and she married Andrew Parker Bowles when Charles was away on military duty. Diana was chosen for him because of her aristocratic background, her youth and virginity. She was too young for him; they were ill-suited”.

Ill-suited is an accurate phrase, but I wouldn’t necessarily knock the age difference.  One of my friends(and she is British, although that has nothing to do with this) is married to a man 25 years her senior, and they have always been madly in love, with a long-term, faithful marriage to show for it.

April 30, 6:16 pm | [comment link]
18. farstrider+ wrote:

Re: I am not Roman, nor was I trying to promote the Roman point of
view.

My apologies—that’s what comes of not reading carefully. The lines I quoted above just stood out to me and I felt the need to respond.

April 30, 6:17 pm | [comment link]
19. Teatime2 wrote:

#17 Bookworm,
Oh, I agree. But I said “she was too young for him” instead of “he was too old for her” for a reason. Diana was VERY young for her years—naive, very shy, awkward, emotional, feeling unloved and very much alone in this world, poor girl. One of her brides maids this week said it struck her that Diana always came to the dress fittings and planning alone. Her mother and her sisters never came to help her or support her in any way. So sad!

I think that she might have believed marrying a prince and becoming a royal would give her stability and fix things. Instead, it highlighted how woefully unprepared and naive she was, how incompatible she and Charles were, and how difficult it truly is to be “royal.”

I wish they’d quit comparing Kate Middleton to Diana. They’re not remotely the same type of woman. Kate (Catherine) looked so happy, poised, confident walking down the aisle. She and her new husband beamed at each other. One TV journalist a few days ago said that William chose the “anti-Diana” for his wife—someone confident and strong, no drama.

As much as he loved his mother, he was really upset by her, too; she leaned on that boy far too much and he was reportedly very hurt and angry when she went public with all of their dirty laundry in that famous interview. He needed to know that Kate would be supportive, emotionally healthy, loyal and discreet. She is all of those things, and beautiful and loving, besides.

April 30, 7:54 pm | [comment link]
20. Nikolaus wrote:

We were wondering why, when asked “who gives this bride” Mr. Middleton simply transfered Catherine’s hand to the archbishop’s without speaking a word (unless we missed it) and why did he remain with the couple throughout the vows and did not take his seat with his wife?

April 30, 10:21 pm | [comment link]
21. recchip wrote:

#20 Nikolaus,

The reason that Mr. Middleton did not say anything in answer to the question “who gives this bride” is that HE WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO!!!  Officially there is NO ANSWER to that question. (Except in Hollywood-GRIN).

Just like there is no “you may now kiss the bride” in proper Anglican worship!!  (It’s not even in the 1979 Book that is not the Prayer Book)

May 1, 12:27 am | [comment link]
22. TACit wrote:

recchip, your answer surprised me so I had to go look in my 1979 and 1928 BCPs.  I distinctly remembered at my own wedding which was celebrated by an Episcopal priest (almost 25 years ago) and based mainly on the 1979 BCP by him, my father gave an answer, which the 1979 book suggests.  But as you said, in the 1928 BCP it’s an instruction that follows the question “Who giveth this Woman….?”, not a prescribed answer.  And this instruction was just what occurred at the royal wedding:  Then shall they give their troth to each other in this manner.  The Minister, receiving the Woman at her father’s or friend’s hands, shall cause the Man with his right hand to take the Woman by her right hand, and to say after him as followeth: Etc., etc.
There isn’t anything about the wrapping with the stole, which seemed to me reminiscent of ‘handfasting’ though I have never seen a handfasting ceremony carried out.

May 1, 1:05 am | [comment link]
23. art wrote:

The wrapping of the couple’s joined right hands with a stole (which I too was taught years ago as a curate in a moderately high-Anglo setting) is one of the non-rubric items I still perform: and folk seem to get it!  For what any of that is worth!
Happy to be a mixed form of service, teatime2!

May 1, 6:55 pm | [comment link]
24. Nikolaus wrote:

THANK YOU recchip for your REPLY.  I’m glad you SET ME STRAIGHT.

May 1, 7:14 pm | [comment link]
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