Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Why Meghan Markle, raised a Christian, got baptized before her royal wedding

By: Julie Zauzmer The Washington Post
May 20, 2018 Updated: May 22, 2018 at 6:17 am
0
photo - Meghan Markle, left and her mother, Doria Ragland, arrive at Cliveden House Hotel, in Berkshire, England, Friday, May 18, 2018 to spend the night before her wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday. (Steve Parsons/Pool Photo via AP)
Meghan Markle, left and her mother, Doria Ragland, arrive at Cliveden House Hotel, in Berkshire, England, Friday, May 18, 2018 to spend the night before her wedding to Prince Harry on Saturday. (Steve Parsons/Pool Photo via AP) 

In March, as royal wedding mania started heating toward the fever pitch it hit in the past few days, the Daily Mail broke a surprising story.

Two months before her wedding, Meghan Markle, England's new duchess-to-be, was baptized with holy water from the Jordan River in a very private ceremony conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

It's a slightly head-scratching story. Wasn't Markle, a 36-year-old lifelong Christian, already baptized?

The royal family has been tight-lipped about Markle's recent baptism and confirmation - two Christian ceremonies initiating a believer into the faith. But observers posit several reasons Markle might have been baptized now.

She isn't required to be baptized to be married in the Church of England, which is headed by the monarch, Markle's future grandmother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, said the Rev. Ruth Meyers.

Most Episcopal churches will marry a couple if one of them is a communicant member of the church, said Meyers, who teaches liturgics of the Episcopal Church - the U.S. denomination under the same umbrella as the Church of England - at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in California.

Because Prince Harry is a member in good standing, Markle's baptismal status doesn't necessarily matter.

"Baptism, as we understand it in the church, is a free adult decision and is not required for marriage," Meyers said. But of course, a royal wedding isn't most weddings. There might have been some family pressure.

"Miss Markle did not need to become an Anglican in order to marry Harry in church, but at the time of their engagement last November, she made clear she had chosen to be baptised and confirmed out of respect for the Queen's role as the head of the Church of England," the Daily Mail wrote.

The Church of England recommends couples either include a communion service during their wedding or take communion shortly afterward. So if Markle wants to take communion with Harry, she needed to be confirmed in the Church of England or another Anglican church, such as the Episcopal Church, which the Church of England welcomes to take communion at its services.

But while the communion explains Markle's confirmation, which anyone joining the Anglican church needs to complete, it doesn't explain the baptism, which doesn't need to be Anglican to count. That part leaves royal-watchers guessing.

Two possibilities are most likely. While Markle's Protestant parents raised her as a Protestant and sent her to Catholic school, perhaps they never had her baptized. Or she had a baptism that the Church of England won't accept.

Why? In the Gospel of Matthew, after Jesus rises from the dead, he instructs his disciples: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

That's the phrase that the Church of England, and many other denominations, have used ever since.

But in the 20th century, Meyers said, a new movement gained steam. Some pastors pointed to other parts of the Bible, particularly the Book of Acts, when the disciples baptize believers "in the name of Jesus Christ." Some churches, especially evangelical and Pentecostal churches, changed the wording they use during baptisms.

The Church of England, Meyers said, does not accept a baptism unless it was conducted in the name of the Trinity of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If Markle was baptized only in the name of Jesus, she would need to be baptized again.

If an adult such as Markle was unsure which baptism she got, she couldn't get baptized again just to be safe. "There is one baptism and one is baptized once, and we have understood it for centuries to be indelible," Meyers said.

Instead, the Church of England has a liturgical formula called the "conditional baptism."

"It's a kind of hedging-your-bets approach. It's really interesting, because we want to be really clear that we don't rebaptize people," Meyers said. "If we don't know, we preface the formula: 'If you have not already been baptized, then I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.'"

That's rare. Meyers said she has seen it happen only a couple of times in her decades as an Episcopal priest.

But then again, a royal wedding is awfully rare too.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

Wake up with today's top stories in your inbox

or
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?
 
This is your last FREE article for the month
This is your last FREE article for the month

Subscribe now and enjoy Unlimited Digital Access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?

 
You have reached your article limit for the month
You have reached your article limit for the month

We hope that you've enjoyed your complimentary access to Gazette.com

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber?
Already a digital subscriber?
 

Exclusive Subscriber Content

You read The Gazette because you care about your community and the local stories you can't find anywhere else.

Only 99 cents for Unlimited Digital Access for 1 month
Then $2.31/week, billed monthly, cancel anytime
Already a print subscriber? Get Access | Already a digital subscriber? Log In
 
articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.