During their sprawling, two-hour sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex revealed that they were married in a private ceremony in their garden three days before their wedding on May 19, 2018. Meanwhile, Harry confirmed that the private ceremony included just himself, Markle and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who also officiated the May 19 ceremony.
Reverend David Green, Vicar of St Mary’s, West Malling and the Rector of St Michael’s, Offham took to Twitter shortly after the revelation to question some of the legal ramifications behind the reveal.
“I’ve no idea what they mean. Obviously lacking as a parish priest,” he tweeted while debating the issue with Reverend Tiffer Robinson, who is responsible for four rural parishes in Suffolk. “You can’t get married twice. So what was the thing three days before? And if it was a marriage, what on earth are we doing ‘playing’ at prayer/holy matrimony for cameras.”
The official rule book for clergymen provided by the Church of England lays out the very specific circumstances with which the Church defines a legal marriage. The book states that “a couple who are already lawfully married cannot choose to re-marry each other, unless there is some doubt as to the validity of the earlier marriage.”
Furthermore, Harry’s assertion that the private ceremony took place just among himself, his bride and the Archbishop poses another problem. Per the rule book, two or more witnesses must be present at the marriage for it to be considered legally binding. It’s unclear if the Archbishop counts as one but regardless, the duo would still be missing a witness.
The rules also stipulate that a private, exclusive garden ceremony creates a problem as the public is required to have unrestricted access to the building during any marriage ceremony to allow for valid objections against the marriage.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
However, Green called on him to speak out and clarify Meghan and Harry’s claims, noting that either the Archbishop neglected his legal responsibilities by allowing Markle to believe the private ceremony was legal, or the duo are being dishonest.
“She clearly thinks something happened with [Archbishop of Canterbury] 3 days prior,” Green wrote. “So it would be helpful to clarify what it was. Plus this is something she claimed that can be verified by separate testimony (i.e. Lambeth). If it’s BS, that helps assess the rest of the interview too.”
During the interview with Winfrey, Meghan was showing the American TV host around their California property and explained that she and Harry wanted to do something private to solidify their union before the public “spectacle” of her royal wedding.
“Three days before our wedding, we got married,” Markle revealed during the interview. “No one knows that, but we called the archbishop and we just said ‘look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world but we want our union between us.'”
She continued: “So, like the vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our back yard with the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
Prince Harry then chimed in to specify that it was “just the three of us.”
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