Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Had a Secret Wedding Three Days Before the Royal Event

Markle revealed the details in her interview with Oprah.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey included bombshell after bombshell (opens in new tab), including revealing a major secret about their royal wedding: It wasn't the first time they said vows to each other.

Early on in the interview, Markle told Winfrey that she and the Duke of Sussex wed in their backyard three days before their "royal wedding" on May 19, 2018.

"No one knows that, but we called the Archbishop and we said, 'This thing, this spectacle is for the world. But we want our union between us,'" Markle said.

She added that the nuptials were incredibly private—just Harry, Meghan, and the Archbishop officiating—and the vows from that event, not the ones which were televised, are framed in their home.

The couple's official wedding (opens in new tab) was an incredibly publicized and celebrated affair, drawing hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide. The event was held at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, with Markle donning a gown (opens in new tab) by Givenchy's Clare Waight Keller. (She later changed into a stunning Stella McCartney halter dress.) Many royal fans applauded the couple for breaking with royal tradition (opens in new tab) for several aspects of the day, including holding it on a weekend and asking a gospel choir to perform the song "Stand By Me" during the ceremony.

But Markle's admission raised several eyebrows from staunch Crown supporters. A former clerk disputed the backyard wedding, telling The Sun, “I’m sorry, but Meghan is obviously confused and clearly misinformed. They did not marry three days earlier in front of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Special License I helped draw up enabled them to marry at St George’s Chapel in Windsor and what happened there on 19 May 2018 and was seen by millions around the world was the official wedding as recognized by the Church of England and the law.”

A spokesperson for Markle and Harry now has stepped in to clear up the confusion. Speaking to The Daily Beast (opens in new tab)the spokesperson confirmed that the wedding wasn't official, per se, adding, “the couple exchanged personal vows a few days before their official/legal wedding on May 19.” (The spokesperson had confirmed this to E! News (opens in new tab) in early March as well.)

It all seems to be a question of semantics—shouldn't the wedding the bride and groom consider to be the most representative of their relationship be the one that counts? Considering the pair's decision to frame their backyard vows in their home, it's clear which resonated more with them.

Regardless, Markle and Harry took steps to ensure their royal wedding would still feel special to their love story. As E! News notes, Markle explained in audio from the 2019 exhibit "A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex," that "we knew how large the scale of the event would be. So, in making choices that were really personal and meaningful, it could make the whole experience feel intimate."


As Marie Claire’s Entertainment Director, Neha oversees and executes strategy for all editorial talent bookings and culture coverage across the brand's print and digital entities, including covers, celebrity profiles and features, social takeovers, and video franchises as well as handles talent relations for our flagship summit, Power Trip. She's passionate about elevating diverse voices and stories, loves a hot-take, and hates TV reboots. Her bylines have appeared on Glamour, Vanity Fair, GQ, Allure, Teen Vogue, Brides, and Architectural Digest, and she is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.