Tony Blair stated that one of the reason's he delayed converting to the Catholic Church was that he as Prime Minister was responsible for ecclesiastical affairs in the Church of England.
Most Americans don't know it, but the Prime Minister does play a key role in the appointment of the highest office holder in the Church of England: the Archepiscopus Cantuar or the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the highest ranking bishop in England and serves as the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion.
[Incidentally, the url for this blog: www.cantuar.blogspot.com comes from this Latin word for "Canterbury". The archdiocese of Canterbury holds the historic primacy in England because it was the first diocese established by Rome on English soil (AD 597). Thus, Canterbury is the first "papal" diocese of England and holds the honor of primus inter pares. The diocese ceased to remain in communion and the Papacy when Henry VIII entered into schism.]Here is how the Archbishop of Canterbury is appointed:
The Crown Nomination Commission sends the names of two potential candidates to the desk of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister selects one of the candidates and informs the King/Queen of his choice.
Then things become a bit amusing. The Queen formally nominates the candidate chosen by the Prime Minister. Next, the College of Canons meets together and formally "votes" to "elect" the candidate to be the Archbishop of Canterbury, even though the decision has been decided already by the Prime Minister and confirmed by the monarch. Ralph Waldo Emerson described the process in this way:
"The King sends the Dean and Canons a congé d'élire, or leave to elect, but also sends them the name of the person whom they are to elect. They go into the Cathedral, chant and pray; and after these invocations invariably find that the dictates of the Holy Ghost agree with the recommendation of the King."So the Anglicans have Tony Blair to thank for Rowan Williams...
Ralph Waldo Emerson, English Traits, XIII, 1856