As the world mourns Queen Elizabeth, Anglican Priest Fr. John Emmanuel Kapambwe has been explaining the relationship between the Anglican Church and the British monarchy.
Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom’s longest-serving monarch died last Thursday at Balmoral aged 96, after reigning for 70 years. She died peacefully on Thursday afternoon at her Scottish estate, where she had spent much of the summer. The Queen came to the throne in 1952 and witnessed enormous social change.
In a lengthy comment, Fr. Kapambwe said the Queen or King of England is the figurehead of the Anglican Church while the Archbishop of Canterbury is the Spiritual Head of the Anglican Church.
The Mkushi-based Anglican Priest said the British monarch is considered the supreme governor of the Anglican Church.
“The Church of England, or Anglican Church, is the primary state church in England, where the concepts of church and state are linked. The Church of England is considered the original church of the Anglican Communion, which represents over 85 million people in more than 165 countries. While the Church upholds many of the customs of Roman Catholicism, it also embraces fundamental ideas adopted during the Protestant Reformation. The British monarch is considered the supreme governor of the Church. Among other privileges, he or she has the authority to approve the appointment of archbishops and other church leaders. In fact one to be the King or Queen of England must be an Anglican. The Church of England contends that the Bible is the principle foundation of all Christian faith and thought. Followers embrace the sacraments of baptism and holy communion,” Fr. Kapambwe said.
“The Church claims to be both Catholic and Reformed. It upholds teachings found in early Christian doctrines, such as the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. The Church also reveres 16th century Protestant Reformation ideas outlined in texts, such as the Thirty-Nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer. The Church of England sustains a traditional Catholic order system that includes ordained bishops, priests and deacons. The Church follows an Episcopal form of government. It’s divided into two provinces: Canterbury and York. Provinces are separated into dioceses, which are headed by bishops and include parishes. The Archbishop of Canterbury is thought to be the most senior cleric in the Church. The Church’s bishops play a lawmaking role in Britain. Twenty-six bishops sit in the House of Lords and are referred to as the “Lords Spiritual.”Generally, the Church embraces a way of thinking that includes scripture, tradition and reason,” he said.
Fr. Kapambwe continued:”The Church of England is sometimes referred to as the Anglican Church and is part of the Anglican Communion, which contains sects such as the Protestant Episcopal Church. Each year, about 9.4 million people visit a Church of England cathedral. The Church of England’s earliest origins date back to the Roman Catholic Church’s influence in Europe during the 2nd century. However, the church’s official formation and identity are typically thought to have started during the Reformation in England of the 16th century. King Henry VIII (famous for his many wives) is considered the founder of the Church of England. The British monarch is considered the supreme governor of the Church. Among other privileges, he or she has the authority to approve the appointment of archbishops and other church leaders.”
“In conclusion, suppose one argues that the Head of the Anglican Church is the Archbishop of Canterbury, what can be the response to help that person? The explanation I can give is; anyone who the Archbishop of Canterbury is the Head of the Anglican Church is right in some way and the one who says the Queen or the King of England is the Head is right in some-ways. Why do I respond in this way? My understanding is that the Queen or King of England is the Figurehead of the Anglican Church while the Archbishop of Canterbury is the Spiritual Head of the Anglican Church. May the Lord grant peaceful rest to the Queen,” Fr. Kapambwe said.
Queen Elizabeth is now lying in state in Westminster Hall – hundreds of thousands of people are expected to file past her coffin in the coming days.