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George VI, or ‘Bertie’, upheld a tradition of Christian kingship that may die out with Prince Charles

Our future king thinks Christianity is just one of many faiths

By on Friday, 14 January 2011

George VI, or 'Bertie', is played by Colin Firth in The King's Speech

George VI, or 'Bertie', is played by Colin Firth in The King's Speech

I have just been to see the film, The King’s Speech. Leaving aside the historical inaccuracies which have been pointed out by others, it was a moving spectacle. Two things stood out: the warm relationship between the Duke of York, later King George VI, and Lionel Logue, his Australian speech therapist; and the King’s unflinching acceptance of his destiny.

“Bertie”, as he was known to his family (but not, incidentally, to Logue), was shy, unconfident, ill-educated, in delicate health and with a severe speech impediment. But he was also honourable, dutiful and courageous – qualities that more than compensated for his defects. With his very stable and happy family life, and his insistence on sharing in the country’s hardships (he had a line drawn around the inside of the baths at Buckingham Palace as an indication of the small amount of hot water to be used) he set exactly the example of kingship needed during the war.

He was also, like his daughter, our present Queen, whose sense of duty is so like her father’s, a Christian monarch. As “Defender of the faith”, in his speech of September 3 1939 at the outbreak of war, he was able to tell his people quite sincerely that we “reverently commit our cause to God” and that “with God’s help we shall prevail”, concluding “May He bless and keep us all.” In an equally memorable speech of December 25 1939, quoting the poem by Minnie Louise Haskins, he concluded with the words: “May that Almighty hand guide and uphold us all.”

I mention this because I have been reading a book entitled Harmony, written by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. All about the laws of Nature, ancient wisdom, the correspondences found “between the patterns made by the orbiting planets and the forms found in Nature”, Pythagoras, geometry, the Egyptian civilisation, the grammar of harmony, the music of the spheres and much else besides, the book is highly significant for one thing: there is nothing in it suggesting that the Christian faith is special, unique or any different from the spiritual wisdom of other faiths such as Buddhism or Islam.

Chartres cathedral, a magnificent statement of Catholic Christianity and dedicated to Our Lady, is discussed by HRH only in relation to the ancient architectural designs and patterns it has followed and because “like all great cathedrals, temples, mosques and holy places, it acts as a bridge between the world of Nature, human society and the domain of the spirit”.

Prince Charles is on record as saying that when he is king he would like to be known as “defender of faiths”. To be sensitive to the different faiths practised by your subjects is one thing; not to wish to uphold the Christian faith that has been the bedrock of your country for over 1,000 years is another.

HRH writes: “The Golden Thread of wisdom and the inner need to maintain harmony in the world… is not some wishy-washy, New Age invention of the late 20th century.”

Isn’t it?

  • http://prodicus.blogspot.com/ Prodicus

    If he will not, or in conscience cannot, honour the Protestant, Church of England, coronation oaths as set down in law and precedent, then in the opinion of this loyal (and Roman Catholic) subject of HM the Queen he must not take the throne. Further, given his mother’s advanced age, he owes it to the people to state his position in this matter without equivocation, and soon, and, if necessary, to stand aside in favour of another Crown Prince who can and will. There are plenty of princes available.

  • Ratbag

    Christianity is the world’s largest faith. Prince Charles should do well to remember that and uphold it for the majority of his subjects who are Christian.

  • Anonymous

    If he’s lapsed from the Faith of his childhood ? I blame the parents…

  • Marcus

    Sadly, both our countries (I live in the US) are experiencing a sharp decline in the spirituality of our leadership. It is hard for someone who believes that the sun rises and sets because of himself to think there might be a higher power involved; such a belief is a sign of weakness.

  • Christina

    And there I’ve been blaming it all on the Jesuits and the Christian Brothers who taught them both and who undermined my traditional religious silliness in the heady aftermath of Vat.II!

  • Neville DeVilliers

    I continue to read of Prince Charles having converted to Greek Orthodoxy, the original faith of his father, and that he maintains an Orthodox shrine at home. Can he be head of the Church of England and still remain Orthodox?
    The constitution forbids the monarch from being Roman Catholic, but I don’t think it says anything about being deprived of his office as head of the established church because he converted to Orthodoxy.

  • Bender

    Well, he will only be king if you let him. Being an agnostic or eastern mysticist or other non-Christian would seem to me to be a disqualification for the crown, which should lead you all to say to him, “Sorry, Charlie.” And simply pass the hat to William instead.

  • Ratbag

    If that is the case re Prince Charles converting to Greek Orthodoxy, perhaps the ‘future’ King Charles III might become head of a ‘British’ Orthodox Church.

    One could be a canary-worshiping monk or nun and still have no bar to marrying into the Royal Family… but one cannot be a Roman Catholic and have a place in the line of succession. It is something to dine out on if you are, say, 50th in line but you have a fat chance of wearing the bling, so to speak…

    No small loss…

  • Fr Ashley Beck

    But George VI was a Freemason!

  • Schuhj

    So was George Washington. So have been many sincere Christians, even though at some level they have to make a choice between Christ and another faith.

  • Ratbag

    Like his father before him… strange, isn’t it?

  • Climacus

    I don’t think it’s any secret any longer that Prince Charles and many other lesser public figures of the House of Windsor have long worked tirelessly to promote a new world order and one world religion. Should the need for the de-Christianization of Europe and the world come as any surprise as a necessity in meeting this goal?

  • http://twitter.com/YO8102 Yorky

    I don’t know if it’s officially on the record, but apparently HRH would rather be George VII than Charles III.

  • guest

    But he would have been farmed out to public school at an early age, so his parents would have rarely seen him. I blame the teachers. And the fact that he’s a bit daft, bless him.

  • RobThom

    Don’t be mistaken, Charles is an ardent Christian – also an ardent Anglican. He has some bizarre aristocratic eccentricities. You cannot detect his Faith from his gardening, architectural, ecological, inter-faith musings. At least he does not kill many thousands of game birds and other animals in a few hours of “sport” in an afternoon’s shooting like eg his great grandfather GR V and great great grandfather ER VII. His grandfather GR VI was also fond of shooting God’s creation dead in the name of sport.

  • Climacus

    It’s interesting what some accept as ardent Christianity today. It’s all just relative and since I’m not his confessor who am I to judge anyway?

  • Rob Thom

    The article is based on judging Charles as a failed Christian. Therefore, the whole discussion and thread contributions are, in your perspective, all relative. So why bother?

  • Ratbag

    Oh, yes, you’re right, Yorky! His last Christian name is George, isn’t it?

    Isn’t it a tradition that, upon accession to the throne, the new king/queen is asked what name they wished to be known as (like our popes)?

    Albert, Duke of York, chose George over his first name and became King George VI (something to do with Queen Victoria’s thing with names, or else he would have been known as Albert I).

    The present Queen, when asked, answered “Why, Elizabeth, of course!”

    But the question is: Will there be a George VII after all … or William V?

  • Ratbag

    Didn’t some of those birds end up on the dinner table?

    Then again, Charles’s forebears shot the inedible… like elephants and tigers…

  • Ratbag

    I read somewhere that Charles has a rosary beads on his bedside table which was given to him by the (soon to be Blessed) John Paul II. Diana, Princess of Wales, was buried with a rosary given to her by Blessed Mother Teresa.

    The rosary is not exclusive to Roman Catholics, of course, or the Orthodox Church…

  • Marypettifor

    Owning rosary beads does not signify faith – praying with them does.

  • Ratbag

    I agree, Marypettifor. Oh, how I agree with you!

    On the other hand, Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, might have had a go at praying on them from time to time…

    …which is more than some of those Z-listers do when they disrespect the rosary by slinging them round their necks. If they had the slightest idea of what the Holy Rosary is about, they’d think twice about using them as jewellery!

  • Anonymous

    There seems to be an awful lot of hypocrisy around this subject which makes sensible debate somewhat difficult.

  • Phillip Turnbull

    It is reported, and I for one firmly believe it (because it’s a good story) that when William was enrolling officially at Eton he had to sign a Register and note his religion. He hesitated and looked at his mother and father and asked, “What religion are we?” “Church of England” came a sharp reply like a crack across the knuckles with a wooden ruler, from his papa, the future head of that denomination. It is well known that the primary teachers of faith to children are their parents.
    Bring on Disestablishment soon.

  • Athanasius

    In what way did they have to make a choice between Christ and another faith? Some of the strongest and most faithful Christians I know are Masons. Yes, I also know some Masons who are not strong Christians.

  • Anonymous

    He’s quite allowed to be an Orthodox Christian, or anything else for that matter. The only reason that the monarch is not allowed to be a Catholic was so that, when the Stuarts were deposed for being Catholics, the monarchy could establish absolute power without the Church to hold it back. It was hunger for that created the Church of England and interestingly the English monarch’s title of “protector of the faith” actually comes from the Pope who conveyed it upon Henry VIII in the days when he was still a devout Catholic. In other words he is technically the protector of the Catholic faith.