On Tuesday at St. James’ Palace's Royal Chapel in London, Meghan Markle got baptized and confirmed into the Church of England, sticking tightly to tradition. Though many of the church's beliefs aren't that far off from what Markle likely learned at Catholic school back in Los Angeles, her decision to become an official member of the Church of England holds a lot of significance.
Markle's latest decision isn't in the very least bit surprising. All the way back in November, Prince Harry’s Communications Secretary, Jason Knauf, confirmed she was set on doing this, People reported. The Church of England, which is Protestant Anglican, has been inextricably linked to the royal family for centuries. It started in the early 1500s when Pope Leo X gave King Henry VIII the title of "Defender of the Faith." But soon after, the king broke away from Catholicism (and thus, the pope) and was given a new name: the Supreme Head of the Church of England. As the British Monarchist Foundation explained in an article, the Queen now gets to choose bishops and archbishops. On top of that, the Preface to the 39 Articles of the Church of England essentially crowns the sovereign as Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England, all "by God's Ordinance."
So, you can see how things might have gotten awkward if Markle refused to join the church of the queen. It's basically a right of passage in the Royal Family.
Though church and state seem more intertwined in the United Kingdom than in the United States, it's important to note that the monarchy definitely accepts other religions. In 2004, for instance, the Queen said, "Everyone is our neighbour, no matter what race, creed or colour.” In fact, attending traditional church ceremonies seems to becoming less and less popular among U.K. citizens. At the beginning of 2016, The Guardian reported that attendance at Church of England ceremonies dropped to below 1 million people per week. In other words, less than two percent of the U.K. population partake. That's not to say more people don't identify with the Church of England or practice in their own way.
But the Church of England's homepage reassures people that no one is ever too old and that "being baptized as an adult is a wonderful experience." Unlike the photo on the Church of England's homepage though, Markle probably wasn't baptized in a plastic pool. St. James' Palace, where the baptism took place, was built in the 1500s and still houses the Royal Court.
As a matter of fact, Markle wasn't the only woman who got confirmed there before marrying into the Royal Family. Kate Middleton was confirmed at the same place prior to marrying Harry's brother, Prince William, in 2011.
Markle and Prince Harry are set to be married on May 19, 2018. The location — St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in England — is actually where Prince Harry was baptized. And don't worry. You don't have to be invited to the wedding in order to watch the vows be taken in real-time. Us Weekly reported that the couple's spokesperson said they want everyone to feel included.
The couple of course want the day to be a special, celebratory moment for their friends and family. They also want the day to be shaped so as to allow members of the public to feel part of the celebrations too and are currently working through ideas for how this might be achieved.
And now that Markle has been both baptized and confirmed, she's one step closer to becoming an official member of the Royal Family.