Divorcee Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will marry in church after the Archbishop of Canterbury gave them his blessing.
The Most Reverend Justin Welby said yesterday that he was ‘so happy’ they had ‘chosen to make their vows before God’.
He had already made clear he had no objections to Miss Markle, who divorced film producer Trevor Engelson in 2013, marrying Harry in a church, and indicated he would be willing to conduct the service if asked.
Divorcee Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will marry in church after the Archbishop of Canterbury gave them his blessing
The main contender for chief bridesmaid is Miss Markle’s best friend, Canadian stylist Jessica Mulroney, 36, whose husband Ben is the son of a former Canadian prime minister
Kensington Palace sources confirmed last night that the couple would have a full church wedding – not a civil ceremony followed by a blessing, like fellow divorcees Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Details will be announced today. St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle is thought be the most likely venue.
The Mail understands that although she was educated at a Catholic school, Miss Markle is a Protestant and her father, Thomas, is a member of the Episcopal Church of the United States, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Her mother, Doria Ragland, is also of the Protestant faith.
The last time a senior royal wanted to marry an American divorcee, it sparked a constitutional crisis. Edward VIII – Prince Harry’s great-great-uncle – had to abdicate in 1936 to wed Wallis Simpson. But members of the Royal Family are no longer barred from marrying divorcees.
The Church of England agreed in 2002 that people could remarry in church, albeit under strict conditions. It insists divorcees are asked questions to ensure their previous marriage has been fully resolved and ‘past hurts’ have been healed.
The Most Reverend Justin Welby said yesterday that he was ‘so happy’ they had ‘chosen to make their vows before God’
Essentially, it is up to the priest, or in this case probably Dr Welby, to decide. Dr Welby has a liberal view on remarriage. Two months ago he conducted the wedding of a divorcee at Lambeth Palace.
His predecessor Rowan Williams refused to let Charles and Camilla marry in church because of their adulterous history, and because her ex-husband was living. Instead, they had a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall, followed by a blessing at St George’s Chapel.
Meet the Duke and Duchess of… Sussex?
Meghan Markle was last night tipped to become Duchess of Sussex – however, she will not receive the official title of Princess Meghan because she is not of royal blood.
The Queen is expected to bestow a dukedom on her grandson and his bride on their wedding day.
She did this for William and Kate, who became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Yesterday it was suggested Harry could become the Duke of Sussex, meaning Miss Markle would become Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Sussex – the first time the title has been used.
She will also automatically become Her Royal Highness, Princess Henry of Wales on the wedding day.
Asked yesterday if he and Miss Markle are hoping to have children, Harry replied: ‘Not currently, no. Of course, you know, one step at a time and hopefully we’ll start a family in the near future.’
However, when they do have children, it will raise the question of whether they will take royal titles.
As it stands, their children would be a lord or lady, not a prince or princess, unless the Queen steps in.
She did this for William and Kate’s children, allowing all of them to have the title HRH – not just Prince George, who qualified automatically.
Dr Welby’s own parents divorced when he was three and in a sermon last year he said it is ‘important to remember the golden-age mythology of stable Victorian values was just that, mythology’.
He said yesterday: ‘I am so happy that Prince Harry and Ms Markle have chosen to make their vows before God. I wish them many years of love, happiness and fulfilment and ask that God blesses them throughout their married life.’
Deciding who to invite to the wedding may prove a headache for Harry and Miss Markle, with tough decisions about who to leave off the list.
The main contender for chief bridesmaid is her best friend, Canadian stylist Jessica Mulroney, 36, whose husband Ben is the son of a former Canadian prime minister.
The two women met when Miss Markle moved to Canada to film TV show Suits. Other friends of Miss Markle likely to be invited include tennis star Serena Williams, 36.
Whether she will invite her siblings remains to be seen. Her half-sister Samantha Grant, 52, has not spoken to her in ten years, while her half-brother Thomas Markle Jnr, 50, was once arrested for allegedly holding a gun to his girlfriend’s head.
Harry’s longstanding – and sometimes controversial – friends include party-loving Tom Inskip, 30, who was described as his ‘partner in crime’ during their 20s and was with him on the night he was photographed playing pool naked in Las Vegas. Filmmaker Arthur Landon and nightclub boss Guy Pelly are likely to be invited.
Harry has also forged a strong bond with Barack and Michelle Obama, through his work with servicemen. But inviting them could prove awkward if Donald Trump – who has been criticised by Meghan in the past – is left off the list.
Harry may be planning to whisk Miss Markle to his beloved Africa for their honeymoon.
He revealed yesterday that he had taken the actress to the continent he holds close to his heart weeks after they met.
He said they spent five days together ‘sleeping under the stars’ in Botswana, adding: ‘We were really by ourselves which was crucial to me to make sure we had a chance to get to know each other.’
And Harry took Miss Markle back to Botswana to celebrate her 36th birthday this year.
They were reported to have stayed in romantic hideaway lodges and visited Victoria Falls in Zambia.
Biographer Penny Junor has also said that Africa is the ‘one place he can be properly free’.
She wrote in the Mail this year: ‘He is not a prince under African skies. He is just Harry.’
Meanwhile, Trump is conspicuously silent
As the rest of the US caught royal fever yesterday, one prominent American was conspicuously quiet.
Donald Trump had still not congratulated fellow American Meghan last night.
Usually one to react to breaking news that provokes or interests him, Mr Trump’s only posts to Twitter yesterday mainly centred on domestic issues such as tax cuts.
The President’s silence may be due to Miss Markle’s previous support of Hillary Clinton in the US election, when the actress condemned him as ‘misogynistic’.
In May last year she told Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show: ‘Of course Trump is divisive. Think about just female voters alone. I think it was in 2012, the Republican Party lost the female vote by 12 points. That’s a huge number – and as misogynistic as Trump is and so vocal about it, that’s a huge chunk of it.’ She also suggested she would leave the country if Mr Trump won.
America went giddy with excitement yesterday. Breakfast TV breathlessly reported the news for viewers about to go back to work after Thanksgiving.
Reacting to live footage of the couple in London, an NBC presenter said: ‘She’s about to become American and British royalty.’
An excited presenter on ABC’s Good Morning America said: ‘You’ve got an American mixing it up now.’
Miss Markle may be surprised to learn that she will need to secure a visa to live here full-time.
Non-EU citizens who want to live with their spouse in Britain must apply to the Home Office for a family visa, which costs up to £1,583.