Few of you can claim to be unaware of the upcoming wedding between Prince Harry and the American actress, Meghan Markle. But what far fewer of you will know, is that Meghan was previously married to a man named Trevor Engelson. They divorced in 2013 after two years, citing “irreconcilable differences.”
Although that brief marriage and subsequent divorce are otherwise unremarkable – and while there is no legal impediment to the upcoming Royal nuptials – in this case it requires the input of the Church of England, which religious organization was chosen by the couple to officiate their vows.
The website for the Church of England advises that “In certain circumstances the Church of England accepts that a divorced person may marry again in church and this has been the case since 2002.” As long as the betrothed couple have the legal capacity to get married in the first place, under the civil law of England a member of the clergy is entitled to officiate, but is advised to give greater pause when marrying those who have walked down the aisle before. Clergy are advised to make inquiries of the couple about how committed the couple are to each other, whether they intend to be faithful, and whether they intend for the marriage to be for life.
It seems to pose no real impediment in modern-day Britain. In contrast, when Harry’s father, Prince Charles married the previously divorced Camilla Parker-Bowles in 2005, they were married in a civil ceremony, rather than in a church, because their extra-marital affair was adjudged to have contributed to the breakdown of their respective marriages. (However, their marriage was later “blessed” by the church).
In Meghan and Harry’s case, the process will likely be simpler, and will require them to fill out a form, and to provide it to the officiating priest with proof that the Meghan’s divorce is “absolute”. It may also require the couple to engage in multiple interviews with the priest before the required official consent is given by the Church.
And leaving aside the religious requirements, it has been noted that the Royal rules and protocol must have relaxed somewhat, since Kate Middleton and Harry’s brother, Prince William, lived together before getting married.
At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders. For more information, visit us at RussellAlexander.com