Accession Declaration Act 1910
The Accession Declaration Act 1910 is an Act which was passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom to alter the declaration that the Sovereign is required to make at his or her accession to the throne as first required by the Bill of Rights of 1689.[N 2] In it, he or she solemnly declares him or herself to be faithful to the Protestant faith. The altered declaration is as follows:
|Long title||An Act to alter the form of the Declaration required to be made by the Sovereign on Accession.|
|Citation||10 Edw. 7 & 1 Geo. 5 c. 29|
|Royal assent||3 August 1910|
Status: Current legislation
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
|Revised text of statute as amended|
"I [here insert the name of the Sovereign] do solemnly and sincerely in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare that I am a faithful Protestant, and that I will, according to the true intent of the enactments which secure the Protestant succession to the Throne of my Realm, uphold and maintain the said enactments to the best of my powers according to law."
This declaration differs from the original one in that it places emphasis on the sovereign as being a Protestant, whereas the previous wording placed emphasis on denunciation of Roman Catholicism. The declaration is usually made either at the opening of the first parliament of the new monarch's reign (i.e. during the State Opening of Parliament) or, as in the case of King George VI, at his coronation.
The Bill of Rights of 1689 required, among other things, that any monarch succeeding to the throne take the declaration as laid out by the Test Act of 1678;[N 3] Reiterated by section 2 of the Act of Settlement 1701. The form of the declaration was:
I, A. B., by the grace of God King (or Queen) of England, Scotland and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, do solemnly and sincerely in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do believe that in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper there is not any Transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever: and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other Saint, and the Sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous. And I do solemnly in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare that I do make this declaration, and every part thereof, in the plain and ordinary sense of the words read unto me, as they are commonly understood by English Protestants, without any such dispensation from any person or authority or person whatsoever, or without thinking that I am or can be acquitted before God or man, or absolved of this declaration or any part thereof, although the Pope, or any other person or persons, or power whatsoever, should dispense with or annul the same or declare that it was null and void from the beginning".
The declaration, in that form, was originally administered under the Test Acts to all civil and military officials of the Crown, including the monarch him- or herself (starting with William and Mary). Following Catholic Emancipation, the law was changed to require only the monarch (who remained Supreme Head of the Church of England) to take the oath. However, when Edward VII took the throne, he was unhappy at the pointedly anti-Catholic wording of the oath (viewing it as outdated and unnecessarily offensive to Catholics, of whom he had several in his private social circle), and wished to have it changed before the next succession. When he died in 1910, his successor, George V, who agreed with his father's sentiments, made it known that he would refuse to open parliament as long as he was obliged to make the declaration in its then-current form. Prime Minister H. H. Asquith agreed with the king, and the Act was passed through the then-sitting parliament before the new king was required to open the new parliament.
- Short title as conferred by s. 2 of the Act; the modern convention for the citation of short titles omits the comma after the word "Act".
- "...And that every King and Queene of this Realme who at any time hereafter shall come to and succeede in the Imperiall Crowne of this Kingdome shall on the first day of the meeting of the first Parlyament next after his or her comeing to the Crowne sitting in his or her Throne in the House of Peeres in the presence of the Lords and Commons therein assembled or at his or her Coronation before such person or persons who shall administer the Coronation Oath to him or her at the time of his or her takeing the said Oath (which shall first happen) make subscribe and audibly repeate the Declaration mentioned in the Statute made in the thirtyeth yeare of the Raigne of King Charles the Second Entituled An Act for the more effectuall Preserveing the Kings Person and Government by disableing Papists from sitting in either House of Parlyament..."
- Referred to in the bill as "...Act for the more effectuall Preserveing the Kings Person and Government by disableing Papists from sitting in either House of Parlyament..."
- Bill of Rights 1688 (1688 CHAPTER 2 1 Will and Mar Sess 2) legislation.gov.uk
- Callum G. Brown and Michael Snape, Secularisation in the Christian World, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2010, p. 62
- House of Commons Research Briefings: The Coronation Oath. see: "No. 34453". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 November 1953. p. 7054.
- Coronation of Their Majesties King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Cambridge University Press
- Act of Settlement 1701, section 2
- Thurston, Herbert, The Royal Declaration, Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912
- 'Charles II, 1678: (Stat. 2.) An Act for the more effectuall preserving the Kings Person and Government by disableing Papists from sitting in either House of Parlyament.', in Statutes of the Realm: Volume 5, 1628-80, ed. John Raithby (s.l, 1819), pp. 894-896. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/statutes-realm/vol5/pp894-896 [accessed 18 March 2016].