King Charles vows to protect the security of the Church of Scotland
Published on 10 September 2022 2 minutes read
King Charles III has vowed to uphold the Presbyterian system of Church governance in Scotland.
Signing an historic oath was His Royal Highness's first act after being officially proclaimed King this morning following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.
The oath read by King Charles at an Accession Council meeting at St James's Palace in London states:
"I, Charles III by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of My other Realms and Territories King, Defender of the Faith, do faithfully promise and swear that I shall inviolably maintain and preserve the Settlement of the true Protestant Religion as established by the Laws made in Scotland in prosecution of the Claim of Right and particularly by an Act intituled ‘An Act for securing the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government' and by the Acts passed in the Parliament of both Kingdoms for Union of the two Kingdoms, together with the Government, Worship, Discipline, Rights and Privileges of the Church of Scotland. So help me God."
The Accession Council meeting was attended by the Queen Consort, the new Prince of Wales, Prince William, and around 200 members of the Privvy Council including Lord Wallace, Moderator of the General Assembly 2021-22.
Both Royals signed the oath along with Alister Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, and Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland.
Jesus Christ is the head of the Church
British monarchs have sworn to uphold the Protestant religion in Scotland and maintain Presbyterian Church Government and the oath reflects the constitutional independence of the Church from the state.
The duty to "preserve the settlement of the true Protestant religion as established by the laws made in Scotland" was affirmed in the 1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth made this pledge at the first Privy Council meeting of her reign in February 1952.
The Queen's relationship with the Church of Scotland was symbolised by a Service of Dedication in St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh on 24 June 1953, three weeks after the Coronation.
During this ceremony, Her Majesty was blessed by the Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland and the Moderator of the General Assembly.
The Church of Scotland is a Presbyterian church and recognises only Jesus Christ as 'King and Head of the Church'.
King Charles, therefore, does not hold the title 'Supreme Governor' of the Church of Scotland and when attending Church services in Scotland His Majesty does so as an ordinary member.
The Church of Scotland is entirely self-governing and is managed on a local level by kirk sessions, at a regional district level by presbyteries, and at a national level by the General Assembly.
The Sovereign is represented at the General Assembly by the Lord High Commissioner, who attends as an observer and is appointed by the Sovereign.
The new Prince of Wales represented his grandmother in 2021 and made opening and closing addresses to the General Assembly and later reported the proceedings to Her Majesty.
The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, attended and addressed the General Assembly on a number of occasions, most recently in 2002.
King Charles addressed the General Assembly in 2000.