Everyone seems to agree that last Saturday’s Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan was a wonderfully “inclusive” affair, which will help to modernise the monarchy and make it more open to “diversity”.
Meghan’s biracial (her chosen word) heritage emphasised that diversity, as did the uplifting contributions by the Gospel choir, and the energetic American-preacher-style homily by Bishop Michael Curry, eliciting a kind of ecclesiastical “enthusiasm” which isn’t always to English taste.
But here’s a question: if Meghan had been baptised, or raised, as a Catholic, would her position be just as welcome in advancing diversity and inclusion in royal circles? She was, actually, sent to a Catholic school, but whatever her religious background – and it seems somewhat vague – she would have been under some pressure to declare herself an Anglican.
As it happens, she did get herself baptised in the Church of England before the nuptials. Perhaps she sincerely wanted to, but in any case, it is part of the tradition among the Royal Family.
Only eight years ago, when the Irish-Canadian Autumn Kelly joined the royal clan to marry Peter Phillips, Princess Anne’s son, she changed from her childhood Catholic faith to the Church of England. Perhaps she sincerely chose to. Perhaps she is so ecumenical that it didn’t make any difference to her. But perhaps it was considered the correct thing to do, as part of the tradition and the accepted rules of “the Firm”.
When Princess Alexandra’s daughter, Marina Ogilvy, ran off to marry Paul Mowatt, a photographer from Northern Ireland, it was considered something of a royal scandal: the young woman was pregnant before marriage, and her spouse was raised a Catholic. Two black marks! It was then made public that he was “lapsed”, but the Queen still had to give permission for the marriage. A priest-friend has observed that the traditional words “trusted and well-beloved” were omitted from the word “cousin” in the procedure.
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