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Vicar claims Meghan and Harry’s backyard wedding did not happen

Vicar claims Meghan and Harry’s backyard wedding did not happen

A vicar has made a bold claim, saying Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s backyard wedding “did not take place”.

The bombshell claim follows after he said a phone call with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office took place.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex told Oprah Winfrey they had married “in our backyard” before their highly publicised ceremony at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018.

During the bombshell interview, Meghan said: “You know, three days before our wedding, we got married. No one knows that.

“The vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

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Harry later on said that it had been just them and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby present.

It is believed the private ceremony took place in the small garden of Nottingham Cottage, the property where Harry and Meghan were living at the time.

Newcastle vicar Rev Mark Edwards, says he spoke with the Archbishop’s office after the claims to “get some clarity” on the church’s policy.

However the vicar at St Matthew’s Church, in Dinnington, and St Cuthbert’s Church, in Brunswick, said he was told by a Lambeth Palace staff member that “Justin does not do private weddings. Meghan is an American, she does not understand.”

Rev Edwards said the person he spoke to then told him: “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.”

The Church of England rules that weddings demand at least two witnesses, and the public must have “unrestricted access” to the ceremony so objections can be lodged.

A couple who have already been married cannot do so again — unless something was wrong with the first marriage.

Experts say any ceremony that may have taken place is unlikely to have been legally binding.

Meghan’s claims last week left members of the Church and the public in doubt.

Rev Edwards said it was “in the public interest for the leader of the church to put the record straight”.

He told ChronicleLive: “It puts us priests in a difficult position on what constitutes a Church of England wedding.

“Should there be witnesses and licensing and legality or is it now just an ad hoc arrangement with members of clergy? Can we now do private weddings without witnesses in our back gardens?

“Justin saying he refuses to comment is not helpful to the rest of us clergy and our own policies and practices.

“I have had people ask me during lockdown if they could have a private wedding, and I have had to explain that would not be a legal wedding and not according to canon law.

“I think we need a clarifying statement — we need to know what our policies and procedures are. It can’t appear to be one rule for one and another rule for another.”

Meghan told Oprah during their sensational interview: “Three days before our wedding, we got married.

“No-one knows that but we called the Archbishop [of Canterbury] and we just said ‘this thing, this spectacle is for the world but we want our union between us’.

“The vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury.”

Harry added: “Just the three of us.”