King Charles III has pledged to uphold the “additional duty” as a new monarch of protecting the diversity of the UK and be a sovereign of all communities around the country and the Commonwealth.
In an audience with leaders of multiple faiths at Buckingham Palace last week, the 73-year-old royal said he has always thought of Britain as a “community of communities”. Among those present at the gathering included representatives from Hindu, Sikh, Islamic and Buddhist organisations in the UK and also priests of the Catholic church, Greek Orthodox church, Church of Scotland as well as the Head Rabbi of London and a Zoroastrian priest.
Rajnish Kashyap, the General Secretary of Hindu Council UK who was among those present at the palace and also part of the multi-faith procession at the Queen’s state funeral this week, said: “It was an honour to pay our respects and offer condolences to the King on behalf of the Hindu community.
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“Just like his late mother the Queen, King Charles is committed to bringing all faiths of the country together.”
British Indian peer Lord Indrajit Singh, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO), was also among those at the faith gathering and the state funeral.
Lord Singh shared: “Because of the nature of the event, we had to get there early. Many of the security staff would have arrived very early in the morning, but they're all surprisingly good-natured. Faith leaders had to arrive more than an hour before joining the procession.
“We waited in the historic Jerusalem Chamber, where people of different faiths have met and formed firm friendships, and talked about how much our different faiths had in common.”
In his address to the faith leaders, King Charles – the new Head of the Church of England – said he believed in protecting the space for all faiths, building on the foundation laid by his “beloved mother”.
He said: “I have always thought of Britain as a community of communities. That has led me to understand that the sovereign has an additional duty – less formally recognised but to be no less diligently discharged. It is the duty to protect the diversity of our country, including by protecting the space for faith itself and its practise through the religions, cultures, traditions and beliefs to which our hearts and minds direct us as individuals. This diversity is not just enshrined in the laws of our country, it is enjoined by my own faith.
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“The beliefs that flourish in, and contribute to, our richly diverse society differ. They, and our society, can only thrive through a clear collective commitment to those vital principles of freedom of conscience, generosity of spirit and care for others which are, to me, the essence of our nationhood.
“I am determined, as King, to preserve and promote those principles across all communities, and for all beliefs, with all my heart.”