Harry and Meghan were married on Saturday 19 May 2018 — official

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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has confirmed that he did not marry Harry and Meghan three days before their wedding, as the Duchess of Sussex claimed.

He made the comments in an exclusive wide ranging interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, heralding his forthcoming updated book Reimagining Britain: Foundations for Hope.

He was asked: Could you please tell us what happened with Megan and Harry? Did you really marry them three days before the official wedding, as they revealed?

His reply: “If any of you ever talk to a priest, you expect them to keep that talk confidential. It doesn’t matter who I’m talking to. I had a number of private and pastoral meetings with the duke and duchess before the wedding. 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 offence if I signed it knowing it was false. So you can make what you like about it. But the legal wedding was on the Saturday. But I won’t say what happened at any other meetings.”

In Harry and Meghan’s incendiary interview with Oprah Winfrey, the duchess said: “You know, three days before our wedding, we got married. No one knows that. But we called the archbishop and we just said ‘look, this thing, this spectacle, is for the world, but we want our union between us.

“The vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our back yard with the Archbishop of Canterbury … just the three of us.”

In the rest of the interview with La Repubblica, he spoke of the interdependency, inequality and fragility of life, which people had discovered through the pandemic. He said the pandemic had marginalised the deep divisions over Brexit.

On the debate about statues and memorials and cancel culture, he said it was impossible to erase the past and “cancel culture is a huge threat to the life of the church”.

The La Repubblica article is here. Reporting was by Antonello Guerrera, Stefanie Bolzen, Arnaud de la Grange and Rafa de Miguel

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