What religion is the royal family and what year was the Chuch of England established?

EVERY year, on Christmas Day, the royal family is pictured walking to church in Sandringham.

But are they Protestant or Catholic, and what's the history of the Church of England? Here's everything you need to know.

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What religion is the royal family?

Every member of the royal family is Christened into the Church of England, which is a Protestant strain of Christianity.

The reigning monarch, who's currently the Queen, holds the title of Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

During her 1953 Coronation, Her Majesty was anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and took an oath to "maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England".

As part of her role as the Defender of the Faith, the Queen helps the Prime Minister appoint archbishops, bishops and deans of the Church of England.

Prince Charles has previously said that, when he becomes King, he will be known as Defender of Faith – to avoid excluding all the other religions practised in Britain today.

Can the royals marry outside the Church of England?

Because the royal family is so tied to the Church of England, there are very strict rules regarding religion.

Until very recently, it was against the law for a royal to marry a Roman Catholic – unless they wanted to lose their spot in line for the throne.

New rules on royal succession were brought into play in 2015, which disregarded male bias and said a future leader could marry a Catholic.

However, the monarch him or herself must still have been raised under the Church of England.

The rules were rushed through Parliament in 2013, ahead of Prince George's birth, but didn't take effect for another two years.

Meghan Markle will study to become a British Citizen, as well as being baptised and confirmed, ahead of her May marriage to Prince Harry – at St George's Chapel, Windsor.

When was the Church of England established?

The Church of England was established by Henry VIII in 1534, over a row with the Pope about his divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon.

Henry wanted the Pope to grant him an annulment, on the grounds that the marriage was illegal and incestuous because Catherine was the widow of his dead brother Arthur.

After several failed attempts to persuade him, Henry split from Rome and made himself the head of a new church.

But the transition was far from smooth. When Henry's first born Mary I took to the throne, following her younger brother Edward VI's six-year reign, she was determined to make Britain Catholic again.

In just three years, she burned hundreds of Protestants at the stake – earning her the title of Bloody Mary.

Her fruitless hopes of reinstating the Catholic Church died with her in 1558.

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