Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s claim they secretly tied the knot three days before the 2018 royal wedding has been called into question by members of the Church of England.
During the pair’s bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed they got married in a private ceremony conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (via Bustle). “You know, three days before our wedding, we got married. No one knows that,” Markle told Winfrey, adding, “The vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
However, Church of England vicar Rev Mark Edwards has since investigated the claims, and was informed by a Lambeth Palace staff member that “Justin does not do private weddings.” Speaking to Chronicle Live, Edwards revealed he was also told the Archbishop of Canterbury “had a private conversation with the couple in the garden about the wedding, but I can assure you, no wedding took place until the televised national event.”
As the Daily Mail reports, Edwards was forced to look into Harry and Meghan’s revelation after receiving a huge number of requests for private weddings throughout the pandemic, which he was forced to decline due to traditional Church of England clergy guidelines. Something the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding claims would conflict with.
Experts don't believe the private ceremony was legally binding
Further commenting on the matter, Edwards described the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to provide no comment on the issue as “not helpful.”
“It puts us priests in a difficult position on what constitutes a Church of England wedding.” Per Daily Mail, he continued, “I think we need a clarifying statement — we need to know what our policies and procedures are. It can’t appear to be one rule for one and another rule for another.”
As The Sun reports, Church of England nuptials require a minimum of two witnesses, and the public must have “unrestricted access” to the ceremony to ensure objections can be lodged. Elsewhere, an already married couple cannot re-marry, unless there was an issue with the first marriage, and Church of England weddings are required to be held within “a certified place of worship.”
For these reasons, experts have stated that a private ceremony conducted in the way Prince Harry and Meghan Markle described probably wasn’t legally binding.
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