Every time I suggest on social media that the Queen is Britain’s most inspiring Christian leader, there’s a chorus of agreement – with Catholic voices among the loudest, interestingly. Churchgoers in this country have noticed that Her Majesty is quietly uncompromising about her beliefs; her Christmas message doesn’t skate over the teaching that the infant Jesus is God incarnate: typically, it affirms it without qualification.
But, as of this month, the Queen has been reigning for 65 years. Attention is inevitably focussing on the next Supreme Governor of the Church of England, presumably Prince Charles. And here the same people who recognise his mother as a Christian exemplar tend to roll their eyes. As I suggest in this week’s Holy Smoke podcast, the Prince of Wales practises what David Starkey calls ‘English Shinto’ – the English worshipping themselves. Or, in this case, HRH worshipping himself, with the just-retired Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, dancing attendance.
I’m joined by Harry Mount, the new editor of The Oldie magazine, who has some witty and undiplomatic things to say about the heir to the throne and certain toadying Anglican bishops. He also brilliantly captures the essence of the Queen’s religious authority, which does not involve showing off – a weakness of other Christian leaders from Pope Francis to Desmond Tutu. If you think journalists show too much deference to professional holy men, you’ll enjoy our conversation…
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