In one of her first public engagements to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee year, which began on Feb. 6, Queen Elizabeth II attended a multi-faith reception at Lambeth Palace hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Her reign began in 1952 when her father died while she and Prince Philip were on an African tour.
At the reception, the supreme governor of the Church of England emphasized the church’s commitment to support the free practice of all religious faiths of the realm.
There the Queen met with Christian representatives as well as members of eight non-Christian religions from the Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Zoroastrian religious communities.
In her address to the ecumenical gathering, she clarified the duty of the U.K.’s established church. Calling it “occasionally misunderstood” and “under-appreciated,” she stressed that “its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.”
Continuing, Her Majesty said, “…gently and assuredly, the Church of England has created an environment for other faith communities and, indeed, people of no faith, to live freely. Woven into the fabric of this country, the church has helped to build a better society-more and more in active co-operation for the common good with those of other faiths.”
The Queen also reviewed a display of sacred objects selected for their significance to the faiths or practices of the religious communities represented and their lives in the U.K. The display included the ampulla of holy oil and the anointing spoon used in her coronation ceremony in 1953.
To view the display, go to www.archbishopofcanterbury.org and follow the links to the gallery of photos.