I have a soft spot in my heart for the British Royal Family. This coming Saturday morning you will find me eating scones, sipping English breakfast tea, and live streaming the nuptials of Prince Harry of Wales and Meghan Markle (pictured above). My husband and baby daughter, very possibly wearing a fascinator, will be forced to join in my celebration.
Like millions of other Americans who plan to wake early for the royal wedding, I’ll be watching for the bride’s dress, the groom’s reaction, and a variety of colorful British hats. But as a religion blogger, I’ll also be watching for glimpses of the Christian faith sure to make an appearance.
Saturday’s royal wedding is a rare opportunity for billions of viewers worldwide to be exposed to a Christian worship service.
Of course, Prince Harry was born into the Church of England, his grandmother Elizabeth II being the Queen of the United Kingdom and “Supreme Governor” of the church. American Markle, 36, was reportedly raised a Protestant and attended a Catholic girls’ school in Los Angeles. This past March the soon-to-be-Duchess was baptized and confirmed into the Church of England in an intimate service conducted by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
The fact that Markle is a divorcee is “not a problem,” according to Archbishop Welby. “The Church of England has clear rules with dealing with that and we’ve dealt with that,” he said, as reported by Sky News. Welby will officiate Saturday’s royal wedding at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
“We went through that as anyone would who will officiate at a wedding where someone has been separated and a partner is still living,” Welby explained.
Although Markle is not required to join the Anglican Communion before marrying Prince Harry, it is reported her decision to join the Church of England demonstrates a commitment to the royal family and British people. Hopefully, it also demonstrates a commitment to Jesus Christ.
Especially interesting is the sermon in the wedding ceremony is to be delivered by Bishop Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church. “The invitation from the couple to Curry to preach at the service is a departure from tradition for British royal weddings,” reported the Episcopal News Service. “While previous royal weddings have involved clergy from other Christian churches saying prayers for the couple, sermons are usually given by senior Church of England clergy.”
“The love that has brought and will bind Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle together has its source and origin in God, and is the key to life and happiness. And so we celebrate and pray for them today,” Curry commented.
The royal wedding service is sure to be rich with Christian Scriptures and hymns. During the 2011 royal wedding of Prince William and the former Kate Middleton, girlfriends and I watched excitedly as Kate’s brother read Romans 12:1-3 and a chorus sang Christian hums including “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer” and “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.” It is estimated over three billion people watched the 2011 royal wedding.
The Institute on Religion & Democracy’s Anglican Program Director Jeff Walton pointed out Prince Harry and Markle’s wedding ceremony is from the Church of England Book of Common Prayer, which is traditional and has been used since 1662. Called the “Form of Solemnization of Matrimony,” the liturgy is abundant in Psalms, references to God as Creator, and the Apostle Paul’s Epistles.
More than two billion people are expected to tune in to the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. We pray their Christian wedding ceremony aptly reflects marriage as the doing of God and the display of God to a watching world.
Will you be watching?