Royal Wedding: Prince Harry and Meghan Markel
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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have invited a pioneering American bishop to deliver the address at their wedding, as the couple strive to reflect their transatlantic relationship amid the tradition of St George’s Chapel.
The couple have asked the Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry, the first African-American elected as presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, to delivering a rousing sermon about love during the ceremony on May 19.
The preacher, from Chicago, Illinois, does not have a personal relationship with the couple, but was chosen by them in discussion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
His inclusion is intended in part to reflect the background of Ms Markle, who is American. The Prince and Ms Markle have been striving to make their wedding day personal, with elements of “fun and joy” mixed in with tradition.
Bishop Curry, who has been praised for his “infectious laughter and self-deprecating humour”, is the first African-American bishop to have served as the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop, a role he has held since November 2015.
Raised in the Civil Rights era, he is a passionate advocate of LGBT rights within the church and has spoken of how his own upbringing, as the descendant of slaves, influenced his commitment to accepting all within the church.
As his role at the Royal Wedding was announced, he said: “The love that has brought and will bind Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle together has its source and origin in God, and is the key to life and happiness.
“And so we celebrate and pray for them today.”
The Episcopal Church is an offshoot of the Church of England in the US and forms part of the broader Anglican Communion worldwide.
Ms Markle was baptised by the Most Rev Justin Welby ahead of her wedding to the Prince, whose grandmother, the Queen, is head of the Anglican Church.
The Dean of Windsor, David Conner, is to conduct next week’s service, before Archbishop Welby officiates as the couple make their marriage vows.
In 2011, the Bishop of London delivered the address at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, speaking of the joy and meaning of marriage in a lively seven-minute sermon.
A spokesman for Kensington Palace said of the Prince and Ms Markle’s choice: “The couple and the Archbishop discussed a number of possibilities for a preacher.
“Whilst Bishop Curry is not personally known to the couple, it was felt that given the fact that he the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church as well as a wonderful speaker and preacher, it would be highly appropriate for him to be invited to speak.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury offered his fulsome public support, sharing his thoughts on Twitter to hail Bishop Curry as “a brilliant pastor, stunning preacher and someone with a great gift for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ”.
“I’m thrilled that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have asked Bishop Michael Curry to preach at their wedding,” he said.
“Marriage is a special and joyous commitment – please join me in praying for God’s blessing for the Royal couple on their wedding day, and for the whole of their lives together.”
The recommendation from the Archbishop of Canterbury is particularly significant after a near-schism in the Anglican Church around gay marriage, after primates agreed to impose sanctions against the liberal US church.
In 2016, an agreement – hailed as partial victory for the Archbishop in that it avoided total division of the global Anglican communion – saw the Episcopal Church, which accepted gay marriage, banned from key bodies with its views ruled a “a fundamental departure from the faith”.
Bishop Curry was also among members of the church to condemn the America First policies of Donald Trump, with a march on the White House and declaration that “we need wise political leadership” to deal with the issues of the day.