What Religion Is the Royal Family? Queen Elizabeth, Prince William, and Other Royal Family Members’ Religious Beliefs

It’s no secret that the royal family is religious. After all, they frequent Westminster Abbey, host church-centered events — including Prince Louis’ christening — and celebrate Christmas together. So, what religion is the royal family? The answer is a little more complicated (and has a long history) than merely saying “Catholic,” “Anglican,” or “Christian.”

In England, the monarch — aka, Queen Elizabeth II — is the head of the Church of England. Therefore, her family also belongs to the church. The Church of England is a Protestant Anglican church, and the royal family has practiced and involved themselves with the religion since the 1500s.

Queen Elizabeth with the Pope

Many believe the royal family is Catholic. | DAVE THOMPSON/AFP/Getty Images

The royal family’s role in the Church of England

Queen Elizabeth II is more than the Queen of England. She’s the Defender of the Faith and supreme governor of the Church of England, too. The monarch has served as the Defender of the Faith since 1534 when Pope Leo X gave King Henry VIII the noble title. However, Henry VIII refused the title and severed all relations with the Roman Catholic Church. Upon the decision, he named himself the supreme governor of the Church of England.

The royal family’s role in the Church of England can be a bit complicated. The monarch — aka, Queen Elizabeth II — is in charge of appointing archbishops, bishops, and deans of the Church of England with guidance from the Prime Minister. The Church Commision provides the Prime Minister with a list of prospects. Once chosen, archbishops and bishops swear allegiance to the queen and is not allowed to resign from the position without Royal authority.

When a monarch ascends the throne, they automatically have involvement with the Church of England. They are later anointed supreme governor by the Archbishop on their coronation day. At her coronation, the queen vowed to “maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England.”

The queen and Prince Philip

The royal family must follow certain religious rules. | JONATHAN BRADY/AFP/Getty Images

Royal family religious rules

In addition to the monarch, the royal family has close ties to the Church of England and follows strict religious rules. According to royal family protocol, a king or queen must be a member of the Church of England (and raised in the church). However, they no longer need to marry someone of the same faith. Before 2013, royals could not marry a person of Catholic or other religious faiths. Royals that married outside of the Church of England lost their spot in line to the throne. In 2013, that all changed and royal family members are allowed to marry any religious faith — so long as they still keep theirs in the Church of England.

Since she wasn’t a member of the Church of England, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle couldn’t have married before 2013. Meghan was allegedly baptized in the Church of England following the couple’s engagement. The royal couple said their “I do’s” at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle in May 2018.

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