Weddings

Meghan Markle Is a Divorceé ... But Will Still Have a Church Wedding with Prince Harry

She was married before, so what are the rules in England?

The Royal Family has confirmed that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry in May 2018 — in a church wedding at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Meghan was previously married to Trevor Engelson, they tied the knot on Sept. 10, 2011 at the Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, but separated just two years after the wedding and were divorced in August 2013, citing “irreconcilable differences.”

So what does this mean for her upcoming nuptials?

In England, under civil law, clergy have the capacity to marry any two people (as long as the couple can legally marry). The only major rule is that the church advises clergy to think carefully before remarrying couples and asks them questions to find out how committed they are. The questions ask if the marriage is intended for life, if the couple plans to be faithful, was their relationship a direct cause of the breakdown of a previous marriage, etc.

When Prince Charles married the divorcée Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005, their affair was determined to have contributed to the failures of their marriages and therefore the couple could not marry in church. They married in a civil ceremony, and their marriage “blessed” in a church afterwards.

Royal expert and writer Eloise Parker says that things have changed so much in the last 30 years for the Royal Family, no one is really that concerned about Meghan’s past marriage.

“Kate [Middleton] and Prince William cohabited before they married, the rules have already relaxed, they set a real precedent for relaxing the Royal Family protocol,” Parker tells Personal Space.

Back when Princess Diana was about to marry Charles, you had to be the perfect candidate to be a royal wife, Parker adds. “She had no romantic history, she lived with female friends, was a kindergarten teacher, aristocrat, she completely fit the mold. But after that marriage completely imploded, the royals realized they needed to modernize their attitude if they were ever going to survive in the 21st century.”

Meghan can thank her sister-in-law Kate for loosening up the stuffy royal rules, Parker says, adding, “the most useful person to her right now is Kate because she’s walked in these shoes … Kate relaxed the rules a little bit, but she still had all the qualities of Diana except a title.”

Future-princess Meghan (who will likely be bestowed Duchess of Sussex as her title by the Queen), should expect her old life to no longer exist — when you are a royal, the freedom is gone.

“Meghan’s life is going to change completely, she’s enjoyed a lot of freedom, she’s a wealthy, successful young woman in her own right, she’s now going to be one of the most watched women in the world,” says Parker. “The pressure of the engagement announcement alone is going to give her a taste of what life will be like from here on out … It’s a lifelong commitment to much more than a husband.”

The interesting thing to note is the planned wedding date — with Kate due in April, the wedding needed to be before the baby or some time afterwards, so the princess can of course be there.

Their engagement is considered a fast one after 15 months, and Meghan’s having to adjust to her new life in just a short amount of time. She is planning to be baptized and confirmed into Church of England before the wedding and is expected to become to be a British citizen as well.

“It’s very unlikely that Meghan would continue her career in the entertainment industry at this point,” Parker says. “Anything she does now is seen from profiting from her royal title so she has to be careful what she gets involved in. Plus, she’s going to be so busy learning the royal protocol. Harry is the brother of the direct line of ascendants, she’s going to be completely consumed by that life. She’s going to have to learn who to curtsy to, how to handle state dinners, royal meet-and-greets, but Meghan will have a lot of support from the palace, Harry has his own staff and they’re all going to want to see her succeed ... her succeeding helps the family.”

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Kate Middleton Prince Harry Prince William Princess Diana Weddings Royals

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