Letter: The right to defend the faith

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The Independent Online
The right to defend the faith

Sir: There is really no cause for Rosemary Watson (Letters, 24 July) or anybody else to attack or defend a British monarch's right to call himself / herself Defender of the Faith.

The title was originally bestowed on Henry VIII by Pope Leo X on 11 October 1521 in recognition of Henry's pamphlet Assertio Septem Sacramentorum, which attacked Luther. After things changed somewhat (the nationalisation of the monasteries, etc), Pope Paul III deprived Henry of his designation but in 1544 the title was restored and confirmed to Henry by Act of Parliament, the implication being that he was the Defender of the True Faith, ie the one represented by the Church of England, of which he was now the head.

The right of British monarchs to call themselves Defender of the Faith is therefore totally correct and unchallengeable, so long as they and the rest of us acknowledge that this is a bestowal by Parliament, not Pope.


Ilminster, Somerset