On Saturday May 19th, Prince Harry will marry Meghan Markle in St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle. As the second son of Prince Charles (who is first in line to the throne), Prince Harry’s wedding is a royal wedding and will be a day of celebration for all in the royal family, as well as being celebrated around the world.
Compared to the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, this will be a smaller occasion. This is in part due to the fact that Prince Harry (since the birth of Prince Louis in April) is now only sixth in line to the throne; and because the wedding is taking place in Windsor rather than London.
St George’s Chapel has important spiritual significance for Prince Harry, as this is where he was baptised in 1984 by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie. The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will officiate as the couple make their vows to one another, and The Dean of Windsor, The Right Revd. David Conner will lead the service. It is not the first royal wedding to have taken place at St George’s Chapel – the first was in 1863 when the future King Edward VII married Princess Alexandra of Denmark there. More recently, Prince Harry’s uncle Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, married Sophie Rhys-Jones – now the Countess of Wessex – there in 1999.
The Christian marriage ceremony will be a Church of England service, as befits the grandson of the head of the church – Queen Elizabeth. The Queen’s own marriage to Prince Philip took place in Westminster Abbey, and the vows made there, underpinned by her Christian faith, have been a major factor in the success of their now 70 year-long marriage. Meghan Markle had a Christian upbringing and was educated in a Catholic school, but had not been baptised. Therefore, in keeping with royal and church convention, she was baptised and confirmed into the Church of England by the Archbishop of Canterbury in March of this year.
Although Ms Markle has been married before, the Church of England permits remarriage after divorce in certain circumstances. In 2002, the General Synod of the Church of England announced that: “The Church of England teaches that marriage is for life…It also recognises that some marriages sadly do fail and, if this should happen, it seeks to be available for all involved. The Church accepts that, in exceptional circumstances, a divorced person may marry again in church during the lifetime of a former spouse.” The Queen was also required to give consent to the marriage, owing to Prince Harry’s place in the line of succession.
During the service, Prince Harry and Meghan will make vows to one another in front of their family, friends and God. These are a series of life-long promises that they will be alongside each other in marriage, no matter what:
“For better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death us do part;
according to God’s holy law.”
These are the same vows made by every couple who marry in the Church of England.
What the Bible says about it
An extract from the Bible:
At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.
Where to find it:
About these words:
These are words of Jesus about marriage.
And they said…
Christian marriage is that sacrament which builds up the community of the Church and of society. Marriage has been inscribed in creation’s design by God, and, by his grace, countless Christian men and women have lived married life fully.
Ruth Bell Graham, narried to evangelist Billy Graham for 64 years:
A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers.
God, the best maker of all marriages, combine your hearts into one.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor executed by the Nazis:
Christian marriage is marked by discipline and self-denial. Christianity does not therefore depreciate marriage, it sanctifies it.