Friday 16 September 2022
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.