Queen Elizabeth at the Synod

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Religious do not have monopoly on virtue, Queen tells synod

Believers and atheists equally able to contribute to country's prosperity, says monarch.

The Queen speaking to synod today, flanked by the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Duke of Edinburgh. Photograph: Wpa Pool/Getty Images

People of faith do not have a monopoly on virtue as British society was now "more diverse and secular", the Queen told the Church of England today in an address to its governing body.

Speaking at Church House, central London, she told members of General Synod that believers and atheists were equally able to contribute to the prosperity and wellbeing of the country.

The Queen, who is supreme governor of the Church of England, said: "In our more diverse and secular society, the place of religion has come to be a matter of lively discussion. It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue and that the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation depend on the contribution of individuals and groups of all faiths and none."