On Monday, Kensington Palace announced Prince Harry and his American girlfriend Meghan Markle are engaged to be married. The very next day, the royal family shared that the couple will wed in May 2018 in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, located near London.
But first, Markle has some work to do: She will be baptized and confirmed into the Church of England, as well as obtain a visa to stay in the UK, the New York Times reported.
Here’s what Markle will need to do to cross her t’s and dot her i’s in between choosing flower arrangements and bridesmaids before the big day.
Meghan Markle’s Baptism And Confirmation
According to the UK’s Metro, Markle was raised as a Protestant. Her mother, Doria Raglund, is Protestant and her father is Episcopalian.
Prior to marrying Prince Harry, Markle will be baptized and confirmed as an Anglican. It is unclear yet when those events will take place, although the wedding is set for May.
She will be the second royal girlfriend to join the family’s faith prior to marrying. Prince William’s wife Kate Middleton was also confirmed into the Church of England prior to marrying into the Windsors.
The Telegraph reported that Middleton’s confirmation occurred in a private church service at St. James’ Palace by the Bishop of London. (Middleton had previously been baptized at five months old in Berkshire, where her family lives.)
The Queen’s Role In The Church
The British royal family is closely intertwined with the Church of England, which is also called the Anglican church. In fact, Harry’s grandmother the Queen holds the title of “Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England” and “Supreme Governor of the Church of England.”
During Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, she took an oath to “maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England.”
The Queen was consecrated as the sovereign by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is a senior cleric, and anointed with oil, according to the UK’s Telegraph.
As the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the Queen “appoints archbishops, bishops, and deans of cathedrals on the advice of the Prime Minister,” according to the church’s website.
Shaking Things Up
Viewers of “The Crown” on Netflix are familiar with the royal family’s previous attitude towards divorce: In early adulthood, the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, was discouraged from marrying the man she loved because he was a divorcé. (Well, it’s slightly more complicated than that — Peter Townsend was also an employee of the family! — but it was a big deal that he was divorced.) The late King Edward VIII, who was the Queen’s uncle, abdicated the throne so that he could marry an American named Wallis Simpson, who was also a divorcée.
Thankfully, the times, they are a-changin’. Harry’s dad, Prince Charles, who is second in line to the throne, his younger sister Princess Anne and his younger brother Prince Andrew are all divorced. So it seems not to be a problem that Harry’s fiancée Markle was previously married to Trevor Engelson, an American movie producer (who is also Jewish), from 2011 to 2013.
According to CNN, the Church of England allows divorced people to remarry “in exceptional circumstances.” Markle can expect to be asked questions about her “past hurts” and divorce in counseling with the church prior to marrying Harry.
Getting UK Citizenship
Other than converting her faith, Meghan Markle has another box to tick off before her wedding day: getting a visa to live in the UK.
As an American, Markle can apply for a family visa in order to stay with Prince Harry. According to the Gov UK website, their marriage must happen within six months of her arrival — provided she can also prove that she has a good knowledge of English and can financially support herself!
The Press Association reported: “Fees range from £993 [$1,343] to £1,583 [$2,141]. Decisions by the Home Office can be made on the same day via the premium service or sometimes take up to 12 weeks.”
Somehow, we think Prince Harry and Markle will be able to scrounge up that amount.
The royal family has not yet announced whether Markle will eventually apply for British citizenship. Dual citizenship is allowed in the UK, however, the royal family may balk at her dual loyalties — although Prince Harry will be sixth in line to the throne, following the birth of Prince William’s third child next year.
Sounds like the royal bride-to-be has a lot of work cut out for her between now and May!