Friday 16 September 2022

Coronation Chickens

By this time next week, expect the campaign to be in full flow to stop the performance of the Coronation by an institution, the Church of England, that was opposed to same-sex marriage.

Having resolved to kick the question of women bishops into the long grass forever, the Church of England decided to have them after all rather than lose its seats in the House of Lords, as David Cameron had made it crystal clear was going to happen.

And while there may not be the time to get everything in place by next spring or early summer, although do not bet against it, the prospect of being denied the Coronation of William V, and most monarchies gave up Coronations long ago, will well and truly give the lie to the first half of the old joke that the Church of England had the engine of a lawnmower but the brakes of a juggernaut.

Its fundamental connection to the monarchy has been liberalising the Church of England from day one. There was a reason why Martin Luther and William Tyndale supported Catherine of Aragon against Henry VIII. There was a reason why Tyndale went to his death rather than return to the England that Henry was by then creating. There was a reason why the robustly Protestant supporters of Lady Jane Grey sought to write Elizabeth as well as Mary out of the Succession. 

And there was a reason why, once anyone started to check in the middle of the nineteenth century, 50 per cent of Protestant churchgoers in England were found to be attending churches other than that by law Established. That proportion would be even higher now, although of course the absolute figure would be far lower.

An Archbishop of Canterbury will perform a same-sex marriage in this generation, because a member of the Royal Family will want one. In, of course, the unmistakable cadences of the Book of Common Prayer, since the Royal Family will have nothing else. It was written to give the Royal Family whatever marital arrangements they happened to want. All else, however real, is ultimately incidental.


  1. If the C of E can't perform the Coronation, why can it have seats in the Lords? Why can it have state funded schools? Why can the Catholic Church, which is never going to have SSM? NHS chaplains, Forces chaplains, get ready for the fight of our lives.

  2. This sounds suspiciously like the old Catholic propaganda version of British history. As a Catholic, Henry of course never sought a divorce but an annulment as was frequently given to favoured Monarchs by the corrupt Catholic Church of the time (Pope Alexander VI granted an annulment to Louis XII just so he could marry Anne of Brittany). The book Dissolving Royal Marriages showed just how “liberal” the Catholic Church was when it came to giving Europe’s Royal families what they wanted. Henry was only refused one for political reasons because Catherine’s nephew Emperor Charles V of Spain had laid siege to Rome.

    Henry’s break with Rome was ultimately pivotal to Britain becoming a sovereign independent nation as was Elizabeth’s defeat of the Pope-backed Spanish Armada.

    1. This is the only "version" that any serious person has ever taken seriously. It has always been the standard Protestant position. Luther supported Catherine of Aragon. Of course he did.

      The hardcore Protestant supporters of Lady Jane Grey wanted to write Elizabeth as well as Mary out of the Succession, since while Mary was a Catholic, it was Elizabeth who was a bastard. From the 1660s at the latest, there have always been at least as many English Protestants outside the Church of England as in it. Successive Protestant consorts maintained private chapels, staffed from back home, rather than join the Church of England. Protestant state churches abroad have always been a bit wary of it. And so on. Whatever else may be said of it, it springs from a tainted source.

      As everyone has always known. However badly Peter Hitchens may want the Ladybird Guides of his childhood to have been the last word, they simply are not. Nor were they then, when the facts of Henry VIII's first divorce were universally taught and known, as they always have been.

      The conduct of the Church of England in relation to the King's present marriage and in relation to his second son's only marriage makes it perfectly clear that it knows exactly what it is. Everyone always has. There will be a same-sex Royal Wedding conducted by an Archbishop of Canterbury within 10 years, and no one will bat an eyelid.

  3. “Henry VIII's first divorce”

    He never sought or obtained a divorce-it was an annulment he sought. As was given to other Monarchs and was only denied to him because the Pope was Emperor Charles V’s prisoner at the time. The Reformation Parliament however marked the start of centuries of British independence.