The Crown and the Cross: Royal families and their religion [Video]


September 27, 2011. ( There are ten royal families in Europe. But aside from the crown, they also have religion in common. All of them are Christian, although of different denominations. In fact, symbolically, some of them are the highest religious authority in their country.

Half of European monarchies are Catholic. When visiting the pope, so called “Catholic Queens” can wear white instead of the traditional black clothing.

In Spain, the royal family is Catholic. It’s headed by king Juan Carlos and queen Sofia of Bourbon, who originally is from the Greek royal family. Before getting married, the queen was Orthodox. When she converted to Catholicism, she renounced all rights to the throne of Greece.

In Belgium, queen Paola and king Albert II are also Catholic. In 1990, his predecessor, king Baudouin, relinquished the throne temporarily, so he wouldn’t have to sign an abortion law into effect.

The Dukes of Luxembourg, Henri and Maria Teresa took part in papal ceremonies last Holy Week. They’ve also given their children a Catholic education.

The Royal House of Monaco is also traditionally Catholic. Prince Albert has visited the pope once.

In the coming months, he’s planning on visiting Rome once again, to introduce his wife to the pope

Last but not least, the princes of Liechtenstein, Hans Adam II and heir Alois, are also Catholic. The prince recently said he would veto an abortion law if it was approved by a referendum.

The three royal families of Northern Central Europe are Lutheran and many of them are symbolically, the main religious authority in their country.

For example, King Harald V of Norway is the supreme authority of the Norwegian Lutheran Church. It’s mostly symbolic, though, since he delegates its responsibilities to the Department of Church and Culture. It’s a similar situation in Denmark, where queen Margarethe II is the main authority of the national Church.

The list of Protestants includes Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and king Carl Gustaf of Sweden. They, for example, play no official religious role in their countries.

The queen of England holds the title of “Supreme Governor of the Church of England,” which is key for the Anglican Church. Even though the title is mostly symbolic, she does have the authority to appoint senior members of the Church. In doing so, she must consider the advice of the Prime Minister, who in turn is advised by other religious leaders from the Church of England.

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