In an official letter written to the Privy Council, The Queen has given her formal consent for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to marry.
The Queen – who was joined by the engaged couple at the Commonwealth Day Service on Monday – expressed her approval of the upcoming wedding of the couple, which forms part of the legal side of being the Sovereign’s grandson. Harry is currently fifth – soon to be sixth – in line to the throne; he therefore legally requires permission from the Monarch to marry.
“My Lords, I declare My Consent to a Contract of Matrimony between My Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales and Rachel Meghan Markle, which Consent I am causing to be signified under the Great Seal and to be entered in the Books of the Privy Council,” the letter declared.
It also reminds us of Meghan’s real first name: Rachel.
This tradition dates back centuries, when George II made it law that any descendant of his must seek the Monarch’s permission (The Royal Marriages Act 1772), in order to keep the royal bloodline Protestant and of a distinguished nature. This was trimmed back to the first six in line, however, with the passing of the Succession to the Crown Act in 2013; it is the same legislation that allowed elder sisters to succeed instead of younger brothers, and that allows marriage to Catholics, so long as the Royal remains Protestant.
In practice, The Queen is unlikely to ever withhold her blessing of a family member’s wedding, and would only say no on the advice of the Prime Minister. If this happened, that member could – if aged 25 or over – inform the Privy Council of his or her intentions to wed; the marriage could then go ahead legally, so long as both Houses of Parliament did not disapprove in the 12 months following.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “Her Majesty finally gave consent to the marriage of Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle under the Succession to the Crown Act by making a declaration at the meeting of the Privy Council on March 14, 2018.”
The document refers to Harry as ‘our most dearly beloved grandson’, in a rare show of the ‘royal we’.
The legal document will now be transcribed in calligraphy and issued under the Great Seal of the Realm. It will be ornately decorated, with imagery that represents the couple, similar to the one issued for the marriage of Prince William and the then-Kate Middleton, now The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Some have noted that this document doesn’t refer to Meghan as ‘trusty and well-beloved’ as the document below does; this is simply a stylistic change that happens when the official charter is written. Catherine was similarly referred to simply by her name in the Privy Council letter issued by The Queen in February 2011, too.