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Could Prince William become the first British monarch in five centuries to break official ties with the Church of England? That’s the claim being made in a new biography on King Charles, by acclaimed royal writer Robert Hardman.

The book is being serialised in the Daily Mail newspaper, which says that according to Hardman there is already talk about whether William will want to take on the title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England when he eventually accedes to the throne.  The title was invented by Henry VIII when he famously distanced his kingdom from Rome in 1531, after the Pope refused to allow him to divorce his first wife.

The monarch has been head of the Church of England ever since, but the religious landscape of Britain has changed dramatically in recent years, and Hardman says that while the Prince admires and respects the Church, and enjoys attending services at significant times of the year, such as Christmas and Easter, he is not, according to the author, a “regular worshipper”.

According to the Daily Mail, Hardman says of William: “In royal circles, it is no secret that he does not share the King’s sense of the spiritual, let alone the late Queen’s unshakeable devotion to the Anglican church.”

In the latter years of her life, the devout Christian faith of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II became an increasingly dominant feature of her speeches on Christmas Day.  The late Queen attended church on a weekly basis, and was known to often slip in to her local church in Balmoral through a side door, away from the cameras, simply to pray.

The paper quotes a senior Palace figure, revealing that the King’s faith is stronger than his eldest son’s: “His father is very spiritual and happy to talk about faith but the Prince is not. He doesn’t go to church every Sunday, but then nor do the large majority of the country. He might go at Christmas and Easter but that’s it.

“He very much respects the institutions but he is not instinctively comfortable in a faith environment.”

William, who’s 41, was confirmed in 1997, aged 14.  Catherine, Princess of Wales was confirmed into the Church of England during the couple’s courtship.

In his Coronation last year, held in Westminster Abbey, King Charles promised to “maintain the Church”, as part of his role as ‘Supreme Governor’.  But William has already indicated, according to Hardman, that he wants his own coronation to be shorter, ‘more discreet’, and less ‘spiritual’.

Lord Jesus,
We pray for the future of the church in the UK.
We ask for your blessing on leaders around the world, of nations and of denominations.
In this ‘Week of Christian Unity’ may your Church be one, as you prayed.
May the Church never shy away from presenting the brilliance of the gospel, and its power to bring all people back into friendship with their loving Heavenly Father.

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Date published: 23/01/2024
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