Harry and Meghan did not marry three days before wedding, Archbishop of Canterbury reveals

31 March 2021, 08:35 | Updated: 31 March 2021, 15:26

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not marry in secret before the royal wedding, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex did not marry in secret before the royal wedding, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were legally married on the day of their public wedding, not in secret three days earlier, the Archbishop of Canterbury has revealed.

In an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this month, Meghan said she and Harry had a secret ceremony in their "backyard" ahead of the "spectacle", which was watched by millions in May 2018.

"You know, three days before our wedding we got married," she said.

"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'."

But in an interview with Italian newspaper la Repubblica, the Most Reverend Justin Welby said: "The legal wedding was on the Saturday.

Read more: Public opinion of Harry and Meghan has dropped to 'record low'

"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."

He declined to comment on "any other meetings" and said: "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. I had a number of private and pastoral meetings with the duke and duchess before the wedding."

Read more: 'Meghan and Harry have spoken their truth and we don't want to accept it'

Justin Welby said he signed the certificate on the day of the wedding.
Justin Welby said he signed the certificate on the day of the wedding. Picture: PA

It was thought the moment between the archbishop and Harry and Meghan could not have been a legal ceremony as it lacked witnesses, and would likely instead have been an informal exchange of vows.

The couple said it was "just the three of us".

The secret wedding suggestion was one of a number of revelations given to Winfrey, including an accusation that an unnamed member of the royal family – who is not the Queen or the Duke of Edinburgh – raised concerns about the colour of their son Archie’s skin before he was born

Buckingham Palace said the issues raised were "concerning" and would be addressed privately.