Meghan Markle’s surprising revelation to Oprah Winfrey that she and Prince Harry were secretly married three days before their extravagant royal wedding has been contradicted by the couple’s legal marriage certificate, which was published Monday by a British tabloid.
A representative of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex later confirmed to the Daily Beast and to NBC’s “Today” that there was in fact no legal early marriage but that “the couple exchanged personal vows a few days before their official/legal wedding on May 19” three years ago.
Markle told Winfrey in an interview aired March 7 that she and her prince tied the knot in the backyard of their home with the Archbishop of Canterbury apparently presiding three days before their wedding at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
“You know, three days before our wedding, we got married. No one knows that,” Markle said. “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.”
Harry quipped: “Just the three of us,” referring to the archbishop, the Most Reverend Justin Welby.
Their backyard at the time was at Nottingham Cottage — their home then on the Kensington Palace grounds.
But a copy of the couple’s marriage certificate obtained by The Sun reveals they were legally married May 19, the day of their public wedding at Windsor.
The discrepancy is important because British critics are out to undermine the interview by the Sussexes, particularly the disturbing revelation that someone in the royal family expressed “concerns” about how dark their baby’s skin would be.
Former TV host Piers Morgan, a frequent critic of Markle, immediately jumped on the marriage issue Monday, asking in a tweet: “Do we still have to believe her?”
Do we still have to believe her? https://t.co/iL6tTKHmn8
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 22, 2021
Journalists had previously cited sources saying that Markle was talking about private vows and not a legal marriage, but that was far from clear in the interview.
Meghan and Harry were not legally married three days before their wedding. A source close to them acknowledges this and says Meghan was describing a private exchange of vows in the interview but their legal marriage was on May 19 #HarryandMeghanonOprah https://t.co/AewZfPJQ3k
— Victoria Murphy (@byQueenVic) March 8, 2021
The British press was immediately skeptical about the marriage revelation after the interview because official marriages require two witnesses, beyond “just the two of us.”
Officials quizzed by British reporters initially tiptoed around the issue. One official said that Markle was “confused.” Another source said that the Archbishop of Canterbury “does not do private weddings,” adding: “Meghan is an American; she does not understand.”
But after The Sun obtained the marriage certificate, former chief clerk Stephen Borton told the newspaper: “I’m sorry, but Meghan is obviously confused and clearly misinformed. They did not marry three days earlier in front of the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
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 [what] was seen by millions around the world was the official wedding as recognized by the Church of England and the law,” he added.
Borton said he suspected the couple exchanged some “simple vows” in front of the archbishop — or “more likely it was a simple rehearsal.” He said Nottingham Cottage is “not an authorized venue” for a royal wedding, and, besides, they didn’t have enough witnesses.