NSS asks PM for a more secular and inclusive coronation

The National Secular Society has written to prime minister Rishi Sunak calling for a more secular and inclusive coronation for King Charles.

In a letter sent on Tuesday, the NSS said the “overwhelmingly Anglican” coronation traditions would be “deeply incongruent with the increasingly pluralist and secular society that is 21st century Britain”.

It said the coronation is a “primarily religious ceremony”, highlighting that the King will swear an oath to the Church of England, be anointed with holy oil and partake in holy communion.

It said this is an “inapt way to inaugurate a head of state” as the UK now has a nonreligious majority and a significant proportion of citizens who follow non-Christian religions.

The UK is the only country in Europe which crowns its monarch in a religious ceremony.

According to NatCen’s 2019 British Social Attitudes survey, 52% of British people have no religion and just 12% of Britons are affiliated to the Church of England.

The Church of England’s own 2019 report found that less than one percent of the population attends CofE services on a Sunday.

The fact that the prime minister’s Hindu observance has proved no obstacle in assuming the nation’s top political job only serves to highlight “the outdated and inequitable nature of our constitutional monarchy”, the NSS said.

The NSS’s letter comes after the UCL Constitution Unit recently suggested a separate secular event be held in Westminster Hall to mark the coronation. They also proposed a less expressly Anglican coronation oath.

National Secular Society comment


NSS chief executive Stephen Evans said:

“A religious coronation is a bizarre way to inaugurate a head of state in one of the world’s least religious countries. 


“The UK’s religious landscape has changed out of all recognition since the last coronation. The government must therefore to find ways to ensure forthcoming coronation marks the nation’s diversity and affirms all its citizens equally.”


“Ultimately, the role of head of state in a modern democracy that aspires to be a beacon of equality and freedom should have no constitutional ties to religion.”