Prince Charles has been keen to study various types of religions.
The Prince of Wales is known for his passion for the environment, architecture, the arts and education. Many may not know, Prince Charles also has a keen interest in religion.
I think Prince Charles surprised us all, when in accepting the World Islamic Economic Forum’s invitation to speak he opened his speech with: ‘As-salamu alaykum’, which in Arabic means ‘peace be with you.’
“The Prince coming here is a positive event, [It] is a time when everybody is trying to create schisms,” Egyptian architect, Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil was noted as commenting in The Telegraph.
For the past 20 years, Charles has been the patron of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. In 1993, his speech ‘Islam and the West‘ was printed throughout the Middle Eastern newspapers and was met with great fanfare.
Farham Nizami, Centre director has known Charles for 20 years. “He makes all British citizens feel they are part of the grand historical narrative, I don’t think there is another major figure in the western world who has as high a standing as he has in the Muslim world. I would describe him as a friend of Muslims,” commented Nizami.
Will Charles map a slightly different course when he becomes the Supreme Governor of the Church of England? Some believe he might. “He is an individual who wants to chart new territory, and that will be very interesting indeed,” commented former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey. “He is very outspoken.”
While studying a Cambridge, he corresponded with the Bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood. Stockwood was considered a radical theologian at the time.
South African born explorer and author, Laurens Van der Post intrigues Charles in his late twenties. It was Van der Post’s mysticism, spirituality and stories of the Kalahari Desert bushman, that Charles spent a week up in the Kenyan Aberdare Mountain. Strong impression was made then as Van der Post is also one of Prince William’s godparents.
With Charles study of Islam and Judaism; he finds a commonality with Christianity. “The future surely lies in rediscovering the universal truths that dwell at the heart of these religions,” quoted Charles in The Telegraph. “All I have ever wanted to do is build bridges that span these chasms,” he concluded.
The same may be said for ‘bridge building’ within the Catholic Church. When he is visiting Westminster Cathedral, Charles “seems thoroughly at home,” says The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster. “I don’t sense any discomfort when he is in a Catholic Church,” The Archbishop commented. “I am told occasionally when he is abroad he happily goes to Mass, and is at peace with that.”
“[Faith] is so often under threat in our day,” Charles has said. “The whole concept of faith itself or anything beyond this existence, beyond life itself, is considered almost old-fashioned and irrelevant.”
Perhaps his coronation will show some of what he believes. Although it is said it would never be an interfaith type of coronation and Charles of course will have the Archbishop anoint him as sovereign, many believe there will be some break in the 1000 years of tradition. The break may be small, but nevertheless might intersperse a part for other faiths to play in the ceremony.
The link between his family and The Orthodox Church also plays a role in Charles life. Princess Alice, his grandmother and mother of the Prince Philip was an Orthodox nun. Charles has visited the monasteries on Mount Athos in Greece as well. The trips are not open for comment and it has been stated the Charles “is interested in the architecture and spirituality of Mount Athos,” according to his spokesman.
People may question Charles spirituality or religious views. People may ask why Charles is not more forthright in his views as the future ‘Defender of the Faith.’ At the end of the day it is a man and his faith.
Former Bishop of Liverpool, Reverend James Jones posed the question: “Why are people not aware of his spirituality?” Jones then summed it up brilliantly, “Because he is a humble person. He would never dream of trumpeting the fact that he prays and cares for people in a pastoral way. He sees this as his calling.”