The Archbishop of Canterbury has rejected the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s claim that he married them at a secret ceremony before their Windsor Castle wedding.
Breaking his silence on what the couple told Oprah Winfrey three weeks ago, Justin Welby said he signed Harry and Meghan’s wedding certificate on the day millions watched them marry.
The legal wedding was on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at St George’s Chapel, he said. In her interview, Meghan raised eyebrows when she told Miss Winfrey that she and Harry were married ‘just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury’.
But the 65-year-old told an Italian newspaper yesterday: ‘The legal wedding was on the Saturday.’
He was asked ‘what happened with Meghan and Harry? Did you really marry them three days before the official wedding?’
Breaking his silence on what the couple told Oprah Winfrey three weeks ago, Justin Welby said he signed Harry and Meghan’s wedding certificate on the day millions watched them marry
The Archbishop first appeared to shut down the question, saying: ‘If any of you ever talk to a priest, you expect them to keep that talk confidential. It doesn’t matter who I’m talking to.’
But then he added: ‘I had a number of private and pastoral meetings with the duke and duchess before the wedding.
‘The legal wedding was on the Saturday. I signed the wedding certificate, which is a legal document, and I would have committed a serious criminal offence if I signed it knowing it was false. So you can make what you like about it. But the legal wedding was on the Saturday. But I won’t say what happened at any other meetings.’
Harry and Meghan, who have now been completely relieved of their royal duties, backtracked on their private ceremony claim in a statement last week.
It had drawn heavy suspicion, partly because a legal marriage in the UK requires two witnesses. A spokesman for the couple told US website the Daily Beast: ‘The couple exchanged personal vows a few days before their official/legal wedding on May 19.’
In her interview, Meghan raised eyebrows when she told Miss Winfrey that she and Harry were married ‘just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury’
A backyard exchange of vows is not a marriage. Despite this, Harry chipped in during the Oprah interview, adding it was ‘just the three of us’. The Archbishop’s comments yesterday, while not categorically denying a private ceremony, quash any doubts about when and where the couple legally tied the knot.
Previously, he had declined to speak out as pressure grew on him to debunk the claim.
A spokesman for the Archbishop’s office said last week he ‘does not comment on personal or pastoral matters’. But other clerics became involved. The Rev Mark Edwards said he contacted the Archbishop’s office to ‘get some clarity’ in the wake of the claims.
The legal wedding was on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at St George’s Chapel, the Archbishop said
Mr Edwards, vicar at St Matthew’s Church in Dinnington and St Cuthbert’s Church in Brunswick, Tyne and Wear, said he was told by a Lambeth Palace staff member: ‘Justin does not do private weddings. Meghan is an American, she does not understand. 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.’
Archbishop Welby’s first public comment on the matter was in an interview yesterday with Italian newspaper La Repubblica during a tour to promote his new book Reimagining Britain: Foundations For Hope.
In it, he echoed wide-ranging views from the book on topics such as the pandemic, vaccine nationalism, Northern Ireland, cartoons of Muhammad and freedom of speech, racism and asylum seekers in the UK and Pope Francis.
The former industrialist, who sits in the House of Lords, did not comment on the accuracy of any other topic mentioned in the couple’s US TV interview.
He did discuss racism, but avoided any mention of Meghan’s allegations about speculation over the skin colour of her son Archie.
In the wake of the interview, Buckingham Palace issued a statement on behalf of the Queen saying: ‘Recollections may vary,’ in reference to claims of racism and other issues.