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Archbishop of Canterbury enthronement

21st March 2013

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall arrive at Canterbury Cathedral

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall arrive at Canterbury Cathedral

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall today attended the enthronement of the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev Justin Welby at Canterbury Cathedral.

A service attended by more than 2,000 guests marked the formal start of Mr Welby's public ministry as leader of the 77-million strong Anglican Communion as well as head of the Church of England.

The colourful ceremony featured Punjabi music, African dancers and drummers and an organ improvisation.

The Archbishop was then formally enthroned on the 13th Century marble chair of St Augustine by the Dean of Canterbury the Very Rev Robert Willis, symbolising his role as head of the Church of England and leader of the global Anglican Communion.

Earlier Mr Welby made a declaration of his loyalty to the Church of England and swore an oath of faithfulness on the Canterbury Gospels, brought to Britain by St Augustine in 597.

The start of the service saw Mr Welby striking the West Door of the cathedral three times with his pastoral staff before the doors were opened.

In his sermon, he highlighted the contribution of Christianity to British society through work such as food banks, homeless shelters and education.

The congregation included representatives from the major faiths including Islam, Judaism and the Sikh religions. Leaders of the orthodox churches were also present including Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain.

The most senior figures in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales were present including the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, leader of Catholics in England and Wales and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.

Guests included Labour leader Ed Miliband, Home Secretary Theresa May, Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow and Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling.

As the service finished, the cathedral bells rang and the Archbishop proceeded out of the West Door followed by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. 

The Royal couple spoke to him outside as the congregation remained standing.