Britain’s King Charles III has made a plea for religious tolerance and the importance of a multi-faith outlook as he mourned the loss of lives in times of international turmoil, an indirect reference to the Israel-Gaza conflict in the Middle East.
In a speech at Mansion House in the City of London on Wednesday evening, the 74-year-old monarch described the UK as a “community of communities” where shared values are the force holding it together and reminding that “there is far, far more that unites us than divides us”.
He stressed that British society was nurtured and enriched by citizens from the four corners of the globe, drawing upon deep wells filled with shared histories and experiences.
“One of my first acts as Sovereign, a little over a year ago, was to open the doors of Buckingham Palace to the leaders of the major faiths represented across these islands; to welcome them, with respect and indeed love, and to re-dedicate my life to protecting the space for faith itself within our shores,” said King Charles.
“Such understanding, both at home and overseas, is never more vital than at times of international turmoil and heartbreaking loss of life...Even in the most fractious times – when disagreements are polished, paraded and asserted – there is in our land a kind of muscle-memory that it does not have to be like this; that the temptation to turn ourselves into a shouting or recriminatory society must be resisted,” he said.
The King called for the moderating forces of "civility and tolerance, on which our political life and wider national conversation depend" and warned against the "rancour and acrimony" of social media.
In the wide-ranging speech, the monarch also reflected upon the advancement of science and the impact of artificial intelligence (AI). On a lighter note, he highlighted the importance of a healthy sense of humour that characterises British life.
“The British sense of humour is world-renowned. It is not what we do. It is who we are. Our ability to laugh at ourselves is one of our great national characteristics. Just as well, you may say, given some of the vicissitudes I have faced with frustratingly failing fountain pens this past year,” he said, with reference to a number of times when his pen malfunctioned while signing important documents in the past year.
The speech at Mansion House marks the symbolic arrival of a new monarch in the City of London, the financial hub of the UK capital. The ceremony dates as far back as the 14th century, in which the Pearl Sword is presented to the monarch who then returns it to the Lord Mayor of the City of London.
The sword is in a scabbard covered with 2,600 pearls and the ceremony is a symbolic show of mutual respect between two historical powerbases – the British monarchy and the City of London.
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