Princess Anne has addressed the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland as she praised it as a place of “reasoned debate.”
The Princess Royal was addressing the Church of Scotland as she serves as the Lord High Commissioner; she represents the monarch during Church of Scotland business.
The Lord High Commissioner is treated as if they were a regent during the General Assembly. The Lord High Commissioner is always addressed as “Your Grace” and is met with a bow or curtesy. The role reflects the Sovereign’s role as a protector and member of the church, as well as the Church’s role as the national church of Scotland.
Princess Anne praised the General Assembly as a place that promoted “reasoned and civilised debate.” She noted that the numbers of worshippers in the church was falling, but stated: “There is still a need for spiritual leadership, and in fact, that need is greater than never.”
She continued: “The importance of the General Assembly has been reasoned debate, and that reasoned debate is in quite short supply at the moment.”
The General Assembly meets annually for a week of debate and deliberation in May. More than 800 commissioners gather to decide the law of the Church of Scotland, for example, whether same-sex marriages can be undertaken in churches.
The Princess Royal noted that churches in Scotland have a “major role to play in welcoming strangers.” She emphasised that she believed that the open and welcoming nature was “stronger in Scotland than in many other parts of the world.”
Princess Anne is the first member of the Royal Family to take on the role of Lord High Commissioner for the second time. She first served in the position in 1996.
Last Friday, Princess Anne took part in the Ceremony of Keys at Holyrood Palace where she resumed her duties by taking part in the ceremonial procession to open the General Assembly.