An Anglican vicar has claimed he was told by staff at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s claim that they got married in the back garden of their home—three days before their official wedding—may be the result of a misunderstanding stemming from the fact that “Meghan is an American.”
Rev. Mark Edwards has told his local paper in Newcastle, The Chronicle, that he contacted Archbishop Justin Welby’s office to “get some clarity” on the claim after the couple mentioned it in their Oprah Winfrey interview.
He said he was motivated in part to do so because he has been flooded with requests for private or outdoor weddings during lockdown that he has not been able to fulfill, because the law states that Church of England weddings must take place in “a certified place of worship” and cannot be conducted outside.
The Chronicle reported he was told by a staff member at Welby’s office: “Justin does not do private weddings. Meghan is an American, she does not understand.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s office has refused to comment either way on remarks about the wedding made by Meghan and Harry in the interview about their 2018 wedding.
During last week’s bombshell interview, Meghan said: “You know, three days before our wedding, we got married. No one knows that.
“The vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
Later on in the show, Harry concurred with his wife, saying the “marriage” had taken place with just them and Welby in the garden of Nottingham Cottage, the property in the grounds of Kensington Palace, where Harry and Meghan were living at the time.
The claims were hotly contested in the British media, much of which has been highly critical of Meghan and Harry giving the interview, and have used apparent inaccuracies and contradictions in the interview in an effort to undermine its credibility and question the allegations of racism raised by the couple.
In the Church of England, weddings require at least two witnesses, and the public must have “unrestricted access” to the ceremony so objections can be lodged.
Edwards said the person he spoke to told him: “Justin 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.”
Edwards said it was “in the public interest for the leader of the church to put the record straight.”
He told ChronicleLive: “It puts us priests in a difficult position on what constitutes a Church of England wedding.
“Should there be witnesses and licensing and legality, or is it now just an ad hoc arrangement with members of clergy? Can we now do private weddings without witnesses in our back gardens?
“Justin saying he refuses to comment is not helpful to the rest of us clergy and our own policies and practices.
“I have had people ask me during lockdown if they could have a private wedding, and I have had to explain that would not be a legal wedding and not according to canon law.
“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.”