By KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(LONDON) — The Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England, has spoken out to clarify comments Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan made in their bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this month.
Justin Welby, who officiated Harry and Meghan’s wedding at St. George’s Chapel on May 19, 2018, confirmed that the couple was not legally married prior to their public wedding.
“The legal wedding was on the Saturday. I signed the wedding certificate, which is a legal document, and I would have committed a serious criminal offense if I had signed it knowing it was false,” Welby said in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
Welby also confirmed that he did meet privately with Harry and Meghan a “number” of times before the wedding.
“If any of you ever talk to a priest, you expect them to keep that talk confidential. It doesn’t matter who I’m talking to. I had a number of private and pastoral meetings with the duke and duchess before the wedding,” he said, later adding, “So you can make what you like about it. But the legal wedding was on the Saturday. But I won’t say what happened at any other meetings.”
In the interview with Winfrey, Meghan said she and Harry exchanged vows the day prior to their wedding in a private meeting with Welby.
“Three days before our wedding, we got married. No one knows that but we called the [Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby] and we just said, ‘Look, this thing, this spectacle is for the world, but we want our union between us,” said Meghan, with Harry by her side. “The vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Just the three of us.”
“I think we were both really aware, even in advance of that, this, this wasn’t our day,” she said. “This was the day that was planned for the world.”
After Meghan’s comments, ABC News confirmed that Harry and Meghan were officially married in the May 19 ceremony according to Church of England and U.K. law.
A spokesperson for the Sussexes later confirmed this as well.
Winfrey was a guest at Harry and Meghan’s wedding, during which the couple recited the Church of England’s modernized vows.
“I, Harry, take you, Meghan, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, 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 Gods’ holy law, in the presence of God, I make this vow,” Harry said.
Meghan said: “I, Meghan, take you, Harry, to be my husband to have and to hold from this day forward, 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 in the presence of God, I make this vow.”
Meghan, who now lives in her native California with Harry and their son Archie, became a member of the Church of England after being baptized and confirmed by Welby two months before the wedding.
Welby also baptized Archie in a private ceremony at Windsor Castle in 2019.
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