Foreign Secretary William Hague said he did not support the military coup by the Egyptian army, but said it was important to recognise the "enormous dissatisfaction in Egypt with what the president had done and conduct of government over past year."
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today programme he said:
"We have to work with the majority of Egypt and that's what we will do. [...] There is a major debate taking place on the role of religion in a democracy. What is happening in the Arab Spring may take a generation, so we need to have the strategic patience at this.
"People in north Africa do want the freedom to express their views and choose their government - and this involves democracy.
"There will of course be a debate on what democracy means and how it interacts with some religions. Our interests lie in a region that has more open and transparent governments with democratic institutions - it is those things that will bring stability.
"Autocracy cannot be the way of the future in the 21 century and it does not bring stability."
The Muslim Brotherhood tells ITV News they are against violence but will "pay the price of their blood" to restore their ousted president.
Egypt's army has named two further officials in the transitional government as its supporters and opponents vowed to stay on the streets.
There has been outrage in Egypt after 51 people were killed near an barracks where ousted President Mohamed Morsi is thought to be held.