Archbishop of Canterbury: The Royal family is a force for hope
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Harry and Meghan’s wedding became a source of debate after the Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey during her tell-all interview that they had actually tied the knot three days before their wedding. Meghan said: “Three days before our wedding, we got married… 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’.
“So, the vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
Critics were quick to express their surprise at such a claim — and the former official who issued the Sussexes’ wedding licence, Stephen Borton, said Meghan was “clearly misinformed”.
The Archbishop, Justin Welby, then addressed the speculation himself at the end of March.
He confirmed that the couple actually legally wed in the widely televised ceremony on May 19, rather than three days earlier as suggested by Meghan.
However, he added: “But I won’t say what happened at any other meetings. 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.”
He concluded: “The legal wedding was on 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.”
The Archbishop also told BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine that “there was an element of ‘uh oh’” when he saw Meghan make the claim back in March — especially as signing a false wedding certificate would have meant the Archbishop was committing perjury.
But, he suggested all was forgiven, saying: “She [Meghan] clarified that a few days later and it didn’t matter at all.”
A spokesperson for the couple then told The Sun that Meghan meant they “privately exchanged personal vows a few days before their official/legal wedding on May 19” — after their official wedding certificate was uncovered with the date of their formal nuptials.
While the issue appeared to have been settled, Harry then had to travel from his home in California to Windsor to attend Prince Philip’s funeral just a few weeks later in April.
It was his first trip back to the UK since his explosive tell-all with Oprah.
Meghan did not accompany him, as her doctor had advised her against travelling due to her pregnancy.
This meant Harry had to face Archbishop Justin on his own for the sombre occasion, who was delivering a blessing during the emotional occasion at St George’s Chapel, and leading the congregation in prayer.
But, the Archbishop did not appear to talk to any of the royals during the ceremony, even though the Duke of Sussex — and other members of the Firm — thanked David Conner, the Dean of Windsor, who conducted the service on their way out.
But, he did call for unity and respect in honour of the Queen on the sombre occasion, in what may have been a nod towards Harry’s ongoing rift with the rest of the Royal Family.
Archbishop Justin said: “I hope that the whole nation, if they believe in that, they pray for her, if they don’t, they sympathise and in their hearts offer their condolences to her and the hope for her to find strength in what must be an anguished moment.”
The Archbishop’s minor part in the fallout of the Oprah interview has returned to the spotlight again this week.
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During an interview with The Telegraph, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, jumped to defend Archbishop Justin for not being aware who Oprah was.
Interviewer Camilla Tominey reportedly recounted an anecdote about the bishop talking at great length to the famous US TV host at the Sussexes’ wedding — without having any idea of her international fame.
But, Sophie said: “You know, if you’re not into chat shows, there’s no reason why you should know who she is.
“Certainly not in this country, anyway.”
This throwaway comment came after Sophie and her husband Prince Edward had denied all knowledge of the jaw-dropping interview itself.
Edward joked: “Oprah who?”
Sophie added: “Yes, what interview?”
Meghan supporters have since criticised the couple for supposedly undermining Oprah’s success with their comments.
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