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Meghan Markle in a white dress holding hands with Prince Harry© Pool

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's 'backyard' wedding 'no one knows' about

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have two wedding celebrations this week

Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
May 18, 2024
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex got married on 19 May 2018 in front of thousands of viewers worldwide, but they had to set the record straight after admitting they had a second private wedding "no one knows" about.

Prince Harry and Meghan will celebrate two milestones this week – their official sixth wedding anniversary, and six years since they exchanged vows in front of the Archbishop of Canterbury in a "magical" garden ceremony.

The Sussexes' private ceremony

A photo of Kensington Palace against a blue sky© Gareth Cattermole
Harry and Meghan claimed they had an intimate ceremony at their home at Kensington Palace days before their big royal wedding

In his book Spare, which was released in January 2023, Harry opened up about the moment they exchanged vows at their former home Nottingham Cottage on the grounds of Kensington Palace, which was where Harry proposed in 2017. 

Harry recalled their "unofficial" celebration witnessed only by their pet dogs while he was at the altar during his legal wedding ceremony days later.

"The archbishop reached the official part, spoke the few words that made us The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, titles bestowed by Granny, and he joined us until death parted us, though he’d already done similar days earlier, in our garden, a small ceremony, just the two of us, Guy and Pula the only witnesses. Unofficial, non-binding, except in our souls," he wrote.

They had first commented on their secret wedding during their interview with Oprah Winfrey. "You know, three days before our wedding, we got married," said Meghan. "No one knows that. The vows that we have framed in our room are just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury," she added, before Harry jokingly sang: "Just the three of us" in a nod to Bill Withers's song.

Meghan said that while the main event was a "spectacle" for everyone to behold, the couple wanted their "union" to remain between the two of them. Since there were not the minimum two witnesses and it did not take place in a licensed venue, it was likely more of a blessing.

Meghan Markle wears Clare Waight Keller to marry Prince Harry in 2018© WPA Pool
The couple got married at St George's Chapel in 2018

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, later confirmed that the legal ceremony was on 19 May. "The legal wedding was on the Saturday. I signed the wedding certificate, which is a legal document, and I would have committed a serious criminal offence if I had signed it knowing it was false," Welby said according to CNN

Maintaining the happy couple's privacy, he coyly added: "So, you can make what you like of that. But the legal wedding was on the Saturday, but I won’t say what happened at any earlier meetings."

Meghan and Harry's wedding reception

Meghan looked stunning in her Givenchy wedding dress for her legal wedding with Harry, who wore his black military uniform. After exchanging vows at St George's Chapel, the couple had a wedding reception at Windsor Castle.

Meghan in halterneck dress with harry in black tie© Getty
Meghan wore a halterneck Stella McCartney second wedding dress

Photos shared as part of the couple's Netflix documentary Harry & Meghan show the Duke was tearful as he raised a glass with his new wife before the newlyweds cut their lemon and elderflower wedding cake with a sword.

Meghan later changed into a Stella McCartney backless halterneck gown and Harry wore a black suit to party on the dancefloor and watch fireworks at their private evening reception at Frogmore House.

PHOTOS: Princess Anne goes bold in white waist-defining mother-of-the-groom dress

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