London: Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex’s “secret wedding” was an exchange of vows and not a legal ceremony as they claimed, according to sources linked to the couple and the Church of England.
Prince Harry and Meghan suggested that they were married in their back garden by the Archbishop of Canterbury three days before their fairy-tale wedding.
In her interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey, the Duchess said that the wedding at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018, was a “spectacle for the world”.
Harry and Meghan at their official public wedding in May 2018.Credit:AP
However, the couple claimed that they decided to have their own private moment and married in their garden days before.
“Three days before our wedding we got married. The vows we have framed,” the Duchess said.
“We called the Archbishop, and we just said, ’Look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world, but we want our union between us.”
The ceremony was “just the two of us in our back yard with the Archbishop of Canterbury,” Meghan said, adding: “Just the three of us.”
The Duchess’s claim raised questions about the legality of their actual wedding at St George’s Chapel, portrayed to the world as the official ceremony.
Following the airing of the interview on American network CBS on Sunday night, sources within both the Church of England and those working for the Sussexes moved to clarify that the vows presided over by the Most Reverend Justin Welby in the garden did not constitute a legal marriage. Instead, the “marriage” was merely a personal and private exchange of vows between the couple.
Sources told The Daily Telegraph that they had simply wanted to recognise the moment with their own intimate ceremony, away from the eyes of the world.
It took place in the small garden of Nottingham Cottage, the two-bedroomed property in the grounds of Kensington Palace where the Sussexes were living at the time.
“It was a small thing but something they were keen to do between themselves,” one source said. “They exchanged their vows before the Archbishop in a personal, private ceremony but their official marriage was very much on the day of the royal wedding.”
In accordance with Church of England rules, a marriage must be solemnised by a member of the clergy in a church, or in a place specified in a special licence, such as a cathedral, chapel, or hospital, and be in the presence of two witnesses.
Another source cast doubt on the claims the couple had a secret wedding just days before they exchanged vows on live television to audiences around the world, saying that the Archbishop “probably just prayed with them”.
The Archbishop does not comment on personal nor pastoral matters, and has always kept the confidence of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
More than 17 million Americans watched the Winfrey’s television bombshell interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, according to preliminary data cited by Variety and the Hollywood Reporter on Monday.
The numbers are expected to rise when broadcaster CBS releases final official data later on Monday, US time.
While a ratings success for CBS, the preliminary 17.1 million audience was well below that of last year’s Oscars telecast at 23.6 million – one of the biggest celebrity events on US television.
The Telegraph, London, Reuters
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