Wedding planning can be stressful for any couple whose families come from different religious and cultural backgrounds. Big decisions, such as who will lead the wedding and where it will take place, become even more complicated when one of the partners has a grandmother who is the actual head of a state church.
On Tuesday, Kensington Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II gave permission to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to celebrate a wedding at the church in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Markle, who grew up a Protestant and attended a Catholic school as a child, will be baptized and confirmed in the Church of England before the wedding, reports Telegraph.
Part of what makes the next royal wedding so remarkable is that Markle is a divorcee whose former partner is still alive, a fact that a few years ago would have caused a headache for the British monarchy and scandalized the church .
But fortunately for these lovebirds, times have changed. The steps Markle must take to secure his place in Harry's family are less complicated than what others who tried to enter the royal family had to go through in the past.
Married again in the Church of England
Married again after a divorce has been a difficult subject for real couples. The complications stem from the fact that the British monarch is also the supreme governor of the Church of England.
Although there is little chance of Harry inheriting that position, he is still fifth in line to the throne, which places him under the scope of the Crown Succession Act of 2013. That means he requires the consent of the Queen to get married. Their relationship was probably evaluated closely by the church and by the monarchy.
The church's position on divorce was much stricter in the past. But since 2002, the Church of England has said that a divorced person can remarry in church while a former spouse is still alive "in exceptional circumstances."
Norman Doe, an Anglican canon law expert at Cardiff University, told HuffPost that any member of a parish of the Church of England has the legal right to celebrate their marriage in the parish church. However, that right does not apply in cases where one or both spouses are divorced, and whose ex-spouse is still alive.
In the end, Doe said that each member of the clergy decides whether or not to conduct the marriage "as a matter of personal conscience," meaning he or she can object to the new marriage.
Markle's path to welcome the Church
The Church of England encourages clergy to ask a couple of questions to find out how committed they are to their next marriage.
Philip Williamson, historian of religion and British monarchy at the University of Durham, told HuffPost that he would not be surprised if Markle had already met privately with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby or another church leader for Talk about your previous marriage and receive advice. . (The archbishop heads the Church of England and traditionally presides at royal weddings.)
"I have no idea about the marital history of Mrs. Markle, but I suppose that before a wedding consecrated by the Church, some questions would be asked, probably by the archbishop of Canterbury, about the circumstances of the divorce, "Williamson told HuffPost in an email. "I would be surprised if this has not yet been done, with a successful outcome." The implications of the messages from the Palace and the archbishop seem to be that there will be a religious wedding, and none would want to be put in place and be ashamed.
The Church of England has a booklet with advice for couples seeking marriage after a divorce. In it, the church advises partners to be prepared to reflect on some questions with their local pastor.
The brochure includes some questions to consider.
- What does marriage mean to you?
- What did you learn from your previous marriage?
- Has there been healing of past injuries?
- What do others think of their marriage plans?
- When did he do it? Does your new relationship begin?
- Do you want to grow in the Christian faith?
Baptism and confirmation of adults in the Church of England is an equally complicated process. In general, candidates are asked to attend some sessions to explore their faith with a vicar. During the baptism service, the candidate will have the opportunity to repent of their past sins and declare that they accept Christ as their savior. A priest will pour water on the new member's head or submerge it completely in a puddle of water.
A break from the past
The Church of England has not always been so kind to royalty to marry divorced people. Markle faces a much easier path to acceptance in the royal family than some of his predecessors.
In 1936, King Edward VIII caused a scandal by falling in love with Wallis Simpson, the American socialist twice divorced. At that time, the Church of England forbade members to remarry a divorced person whose previous spouse was still alive.
Williamson, a professor at Durham University, told HuffPost that, like other divorcees at the time, Simpson first had to prove he was not the "guilty party" that caused the breakup of his first marriage before that could be received in any function in the royal court.
"He even had to file copies of his divorce documents for Lord Chamberlain's office," Williamson said.
Edward VIII eventually had to abdicate from his throne to marry Simpson.
In 1953, Queen Elizabeth II, under pressure from the Church of England and the government of Winston Churchill, refused to give permission to her sister, Princess Margaret, to marry. the divorced Captain Peter Townsend unless Margaret was removed from the line of succession. (Margaret later decided not to continue the relationship.)
More recently, in 2005, the bishops of the Church of England debated how to handle the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. At this time, the church's rules on remarriage had shifted toward acceptance in some circumstances. The problem here was that both sides admitted to having an affair while they were still married to other people, according to the BBC, which goes back to the reluctance of the church to allow those responsible for the marriage's failure to marry once more. 19659002] "Even for an established church close to the monarchy, there was a serious problem of making concessions to royalty that were not available to other faithful in the church, even beyond moral and religious principles," Williamson said.  The couple's solution was to have a civil ceremony outside the church followed by a service of "prayer and dedication" in the Chapel of St. George chaired by Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury at that time. The service of the church included a reading of the act of penance, where Carlos and Camilla joined the congregation to acknowledge their "multiple sins and evil."
While his predecessors struggled to reach an agreement with divorced individuals who married the royal family, the current archbishop of Canterbury received news of Harry's engagement.
Welby issued a statement Monday saying he is happy that the couple "has chosen to make their vows before God."
"I am absolutely delighted to hear the news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged," Welby said. "I wish you many years of love, happiness and satisfaction and I ask God to bless you throughout your married life"