During their Oprah special, Harry and Meghan talked about having a secret wedding that took place in their backyard just three days before they officially tied the knot at Windsor Castle—but in the weeks since their tell-all aired, critics have hit back at the Sussexes’ claim that they got “married” during the private backyard ceremony. Finally, after much scrutiny, a spokesperson for Meghan and Harry is clearing things up once and for all.
A representative for the Duke, 36, and Duchess, 39, confirmed to both the Daily Beast and NBC’s “Today” on March 22 that the couple didn’t *actually* get legally married during their secret ceremony, but instead “exchanged personal vows a few days before their official/legal wedding on May 19,” in 2018. The couple’s statement comes after weeks of backlash from the U.K. press and palace sources claiming that they lied about their secret wedding after Meghan said they “got married” in their backyard during her interview with Oprah.
In the special, which aired March 7, 2021, Meghan recalled exchanging vows with Harry in the backyard of their home at Nottingham Cottage as the Archbishop of Canterbury presided. “You know, three days before our wedding, we got married. No one knows that,” Meghan told Oprah.
She continued, “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 added, “Just the three of us,” referring to the archbishop, the Most Reverend Justin Welby.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also confirmed to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica in March 2021 that he signed the legal document for Meghan and Harry’s wedding on May 19, 2018, the day of their royal ceremony. “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,” he said.
The Archbishop, however, hinted that Meghan and Harry were telling the truth that they had an unofficial ceremony three days before their wedding. “So, you can make what you like of that. But the legal wedding was on the Saturday, but I won’t say what happened at any earlier meetings,” he said.
After Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview, critics were also quick to point out that the ceremony couldn’t have been legal, as at least two witnesses are required for a legal marriage in the U.K. A report by The Sun later confirmed as much, as the British paper obtained a copy of the couple’s marriage certificate. The certificate states the couple’s marriage date as May 19, the day of their public wedding at Windsor Castle.
Former chief clerk Stephen Borton told the newspaper that the Duchess of Sussex may have been “confused” with her wording. “I’m sorry, but Meghan is obviously confused and clearly misinformed,” Borton said. “They did not marry three days earlier in front of the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
Instead, Borton suggested that the couple exchanged some “simple vows” or “more likely it was a simple rehearsal” in front of the archbishop before their official ceremony. And as Meghan and Harry’s statement reveals, it looks like the pair were indeed exchanging their vows to share a private moment before the big day.