Welby jokes about April Fools’ portrayal as Elvis at Harry and Meghan ‘wedding’

Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent
·3-min read

The Archbishop of Canterbury has laughed off a national newspaper’s April Fools’ story he secretly married the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – dressed as Elvis.

Justin Welby was quizzed about his thoughts on Meghan’s claim he performed a “backyard” ceremony ahead of the televised royal nuptials during an appearance on Jeremy Vine’s BBC Radio 2 show.

He said “there was an element (of) ‘ah-oh'” but the duchess later clarified the issue.

Royal wedding
Harry and Meghan exchange vows as Archbishop Welby officiates (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Vine asked if the senior cleric had seen The Sun newspaper’s story, which had mocked up an image of the secret “wedding” with the Sussexes standing in front of the archbishop, who was dressed in an Elvis outfit, complete with guitar and slicked back dark hair.

Mr Welby replied: “Yes, you have noticed the date haven’t you Jeremy?”

He chuckled as he added: “I did hear that and you can now, having seen that, you can understand why I have decided absolutely not to comment on what happened in that private and pastoral meeting.”

The archbishop quipped: “Apart from anything else, the wig supplier would want their hair back.”

During her explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, broadcast last month, Meghan said she and Harry had a secret marriage ceremony with the archbishop.

Oprah Winfrey interviews Duke and Duchess of Sussex
A man watches the interview with Oprah Winfrey (Aaron Chown/PA)

The duchess said nobody knew that the couple shared personal vows for “just the two of us” ahead of their eagerly anticipated wedding day in Windsor on May 19 2018.

It was thought it could not have been a legal ceremony as it lacked witnesses and a registered venue, and was instead likely to have been an informal exchange of vows.

Archbishop Welby added: “Well, I can promise you… the wedding was on the Saturday, I signed a wedding certificate. And if I sign a false wedding certificate that is perjury, and I will be going down for a little while.”

Vine asked the senior cleric if he had said “ah-oh” to himself after he heard Meghan’s wedding claims.

He replied: “There was an element (of) ‘ah-oh’, yes there was a bit of ‘ah-oh’, but she clarified that a few days later and, you know, it didn’t matter at all.

Royal wedding
Meghan and Harry on their wedding day (Steve Parsons/PA)

“But the wedding was on the Saturday and it was a beautiful, it was a fantastic wedding. It was a really intimate moment when they were taking the vows with each other and you sort of forgot there was a billion people watching or something.”

The Sussexes, who are expecting their second child – a daughter – in the summer after a miscarriage last year, have embraced their new life in California, away from the monarchy.

The suggestion of a secret wedding was just one revelation in the Winfrey interview, with Meghan and Harry accusing an unnamed member of the royal family – not the Queen or the Duke of Edinburgh – of raising concerns about how dark their son Archie’s skin tone would be before he was born.

Buckingham Palace previously said the issues raised in the interview, especially over race, were “concerning” and would be addressed by the Queen and her family privately.