- Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s representatives confirmed that their backyard wedding wasn’t legal.
- Markle told Oprah the vow exchange took place three days before the royal wedding in 2018.
- Markle didn’t say the backyard celebration was legal at the time.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Representatives for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle confirmed to The Daily Beast on Monday that their secret backyard wedding was not a legal ceremony.
“The couple exchanged personal vows a few days before their official/legal wedding on May 19,” representatives for the couple told The Daily Beast’s royal correspondent Tom Sykes.
Sources familiar with the matter told Insider that the couple privately exchanged vows days before their official ceremony in 2018.
Markle said the same when she and Harry sat down with Oprah Winfrey for their tell-all interview that aired in the US on March 7. At the time, Markle never said the ceremony was legal, though she alluded to getting married, and shared that she and Harry cherished the privacy of their vow exchange.
“Three days before our wedding, we got married,” Markle told Winfrey. “No one knows that, but we called the archbishop and we just said, ‘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,” she continued.
A representative for the Church of England previously declined to comment when reached by Insider stating that “the archbishop does not comment on personal or pastoral matters.”
Experts previously told Insider that the ceremony likely wasn’t legal
Insider’s Monica Humphries previously spoke to two royal experts who said that the ceremony wasn’t legal, citing the location and apparent lack of witnesses.
Humphries wrote that in order for a wedding ceremony to be legal under the Church of England’s Canons, the couple would need two witnesses and the wedding ceremony should take place in a setting with a special license (which a private home or backyard wouldn’t be granted).
As the Daily Mail reported earlier in March, the Church of England pushed back on recognizing private homes, lakes, and bars as places where people could potentially get married and upheld its stance that weddings should take place at registered religious buildings.
Reverend Canon Giles Fraser, the rector of St. Mary Newington church in London, told Insider that “it was probably a blessing. But they got married legally at Windsor.” The couple’s official royal wedding took place at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Harry Benson, an official at the Marriage Foundation, echoed Fraser, saying that Harry and Markle’s vow exchange likely wasn’t a legally binding ceremony.
“While the archbishop might have been able to grant himself a special license in some circumstances, he may not have been able to overcome the legal need for weddings to be licensed to a building and to have two witnesses present, without which a wedding would not be ‘public,'” Benson said.
In an opinion piece, Insider’s Samantha Grindell argued that the legality of the ceremony was irrelevant, and that the backyard vow exchange meant more to the couple than the televised wedding watched by 29 million viewers.
“Markle and Harry’s decision to say their vows privately indicates the public ceremony wasn’t something they actually wanted to do; rather, it was a convention they had no choice but to adhere to,” Grindell wrote.
“It seems like the royal family’s commitment to massive public weddings is another example of an unnecessary tradition in the monarchy,” she added.