This story originally appeared on ELLE UK
Since the airing of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Oprah interview, tabloids and outlets have been disputing the legitimacy of a comment made by the Duchess of Sussex to Oprah that suggested that she and Prince Harry exchanged vows before their royal wedding in a more intimate ceremony for themselves.
‘I was thinking about it, you know our wedding—three days before our wedding, we got married. No one knows that,’ the duchess told Oprah. ‘We called the Archbishop and we just said, look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world. But we want our union between us, so the vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury.’
The Sun, an outlet who reportedly hired a private investigator to research Meghan after her relationship with the Prince was made public, obtained and ran the couple’s official wedding certificate on its site this weekend, which had their date of marriage listed as their royal wedding ceremony date, May 19, 2018. They also spoke to a former chief clerk at the Faculty Office, Stephen Borton, who stated that the duchess was, ‘obviously confused and clearly misinformed.’
‘The Special License I helped draw up enabled them to marry at St George’s Chapel in Windsor and what happened there on 19 May 2018 and was seen by millions around the world was the official wedding as recognized by the Church of England and the law,’ he said. ‘What I suspect they did was exchange some simple vows they had perhaps written themselves, and which is fashionable, and said that in front of the Archbishop—or, and more likely, it was a simple rehearsal.’
The Sun’s piece sparked a new narrative picked up by sections of the press, who have been called out by both Meghan and Prince Harry, for an alleged ‘racist’, targeted and unfavourable campaign against the Duchess during her time as a senior working royal.
Despite the new angle that various British tabloids have taken in response to Markle’s remarks, the idea that the statement was untrue doesn’t tell the full story.
In the interview, the duchess never refers to it as an early, secret, backyard wedding; despite new media interpretation. The practice of ceremonies before the larger event is not uncommon as some couples, particularly those who have destination weddings or have different citizenships, may have a vow exchange that is not a legal wedding.
Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas’ big French wedding ceremony is one celebrity example; they legally wed in Las Vegas months before it. As a source told E! immediately following the Vegas ceremony, ‘they had to get married in the States to make it legal, but the wedding is still in Europe.’
For the Duke and Duchess, it does not change the fact that symbolically and emotionally, as Meghan said, they felt like they were getting married then – ‘we want our union between us’.
It was a personal vow exchange, with the couple exchanging the words they would’ve said in a more normal, private wedding rather than a televised, public, royal one for all the world to consume, with set, traditional vows to recite.
A spokesperson for Meghan and Harry clarified to outlets that the Duke and Duchess ‘privately exchanged personal vows a few days before their official/legal wedding on May 19.’
That rep first set the record straight on Meghan’s comments on March 8, one day after the interview aired and weeks before The Sun’s article.
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