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The Queen with Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

The Queen with Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. Dr. Williams is the 104th incumbent of the post, the first being St. Augustine in 597 AD
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The Sovereign holds the title 'Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England'.

The Church of England, and the monarch's relation to it, was established through a series of Parliamentary Acts in the 1530s, which brought about the English Reformation.

Henry VIII broke from the Roman Catholic Church by denying papal claims to ecclesiastical or any other jurisdiction, and by declaring himself rather than the Pope as Supreme Head of the Church in England.

There are many examples of the relationship between the established Church and the State.

Archbishops and bishops are appointed by The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, who considers the names selected by a Church Commission. They take an oath of allegiance to The Queen on appointment and may not resign without Royal authority.

The connection between Church and State is also symbolised by the fact that the 'Lords Spiritual' (consisting of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and 24 diocesan bishops) sit in the House of Lords. Parish priests also take an oath of allegiance to The Queen.

The General Synod (including the bishops, elected representatives from the clergy and the laity) is the supreme authority of the Church of England. The Queen opens the Synod after the elections in the dioceses every five years.

Since 1919, the Synod (formerly called the Church Assembly) has had the power to pass Measures on any matter concerning the Church of England.

Following acceptance of the Measures by both Houses of Parliament (which cannot amend them), they are submitted for Royal Assent and become law.

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Did you know?

The Preface to the 39 Articles of the Church of England describes the monarch as 'being by God's Ordinance, according to Our just Title, Defender of the Faith and ... Supreme Governor of the Church of England'.

In addition to legislating for the Church by Measure, the General Synod has the power to legislate by Canon in its own domestic affairs such as worship and doctrine, but The Queen's assent is required for the promulgation of such Canons. Such assent is given on the Home Secretary's advice.

In his or her coronation oath, the Sovereign promises to maintain the Church.

The Sovereign must be in communion with the Church of England, that is, a full, confirmed member.

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