'Sussexes' private wedding was a private conversation with Archbishop'

‘Meghan is an American, she does not understand’: Vicar says Church of England told him that Meghan and Prince Harry’s ‘garden wedding’ was no more than a ‘private conversation’ with Archbishop of Canterbury

  • Rev Mark Edwards urges the Archbishop to clarify after claims by Duchess of Sussex that her and Harry had private ‘garden wedding’ have ’caused confusion’
  • Claim was made in the bombshell interview between couple and Oprah Winfrey
  • Meghan told Oprah that 3 days before official ceremony, they married privately
  • But experts questioned legality of the claim saying witnesses had to be present 

Rev Mark Edwards had called for clarity after claims made by the Duchess of Sussex in her interview with Oprah have caused confusion

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s ‘garden wedding’ was no more than a ‘private conversation’ with the Archbishop of Canterbury, a vicar who investigated the matter has claimed.

Rev Mark Edwards decided to look into Meghan’s claims because during the Covid outbreak he has been inundated with requests for private weddings which he has been forced to decline.

Rev Edwards, the vicar at St Matthew’s Church, in Dinnington, and St Cuthbert’s Church, in Brunswick, Newcastle upon Tyne, said he was told by a Lambeth Palace staff member that, ‘Justin does not do private weddings. Meghan is an American, she does not understand’.

He says the claim has caused confusion among clergy and couples anxious to tie the knot and is asking Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to clarify the situation.

Red Edwards said: ‘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.

During the interview with Oprah Winfrey (pictured) Meghan claimed she married Prince Harry three days before the actual ceremony in a private ‘garden wedding’ with the Archbishop

‘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.’

In the bombshell interview a week ago, the Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey: ‘You know, three days before our wedding, we got married. No one knows that.’

Later on in the show Harry said it had been just them and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby present.

Rev Mark Edwards, who was inundated with requests for private weddings during the Covid-19 lockdown, contacted the Archbishop’s office in the wake of the claims to ‘get some clarity’ on their policy.

Rev Edwards said the person he spoke to then 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.’

Vicars have cast doubt on Meghan’s claims since the interview, as rules on Church of England weddings require at least two witnesses, and the public must have ‘unrestricted access’ to the ceremony so objections can be lodged.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (centre) has so far refused to comment on claims made by Meghan as he says it is a ‘private matter’ but Rev Edwards has called for clarity

Experts have said any ceremony that took place is unlikely to have been legally binding.

Rev Tiffer Robinson, a Church of England vicar in Suffolk, wrote on Twitter: ‘She’s entitled to consider it her marriage if she wants to.

Americans are much less concerned with the specifics of marriage law than English clergy.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury has so far said he will not comment on Meghan’s comments as it is a private matter.

But Rev Edwards said it was ‘in the public interest for the leader of the church to put the record straight’.

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