A new BBC News poll shows that people in England overwhelming support Queen Elizabeth II’s role as “Defender of the Faith” and wish to see her continue to serve as head of the Church of England. From Alex Strangwayes-Booth of BBC News:
Almost 80% of people in England agree the Queen still has an important faith role, a BBC poll suggests.
In a poll by (the research firm) ComRes to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, 79% of respondents said the monarch’s religious role remained relevant.
Meanwhile, 73% said she should continue as supreme governor of the Church of England and keep the Defender of the Faith title first given to Henry VIII.
Comres polled 2,591 people about links between the Church and monarchy.
About 25% of those polled thought the Queen and future monarchs should not have any faith role.
The Queen’s first Jubilee engagement of the year was at a multi-faith reception at Lambeth Palace, where she defended the role of the Church of England. She said the Church was often misunderstood and under-appreciated.
“Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of all other religions, instead the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country,” she said.
A few weeks later she made her first Jubilee visit to Leicester, where she was greeted by Indian drummers, a Zimbabwean choir and a traditional brass band. …
Farooq Murad, the general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the Queen’s role in the Commonwealth meant other faith communities felt at home with her leadership of the Church of England.
“The largest Muslim countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, are part of the Commonwealth and (people) arrive here having heard of the British monarchy from their fathers and grandfathers to the extent that many of them fought for the British Empire – we feel strong Christian values are good for us, we are very much on the same grounds.”
But Graham Smith, from the campaign group Republic, which wants to get rid of the Monarchy, said it was discriminating against other religions.
“I don’t think that in a multicultural society we should be telling people that actually you are excluded from this,” he said….It becomes exclusive and it locks ordinary people out from the institutions and the ceremonies of state.” …
The poll for BBC local radio found opinion divided on the suggestion by Prince Charles that he might change the religious role of the monarchy.
He has called for greater understanding between people of different faiths and said he would personally rather see his role as Defender of Faith, not the faith.
When asked if Prince Charles should change his title if he becomes king, only half of the respondents thought that he should.