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Royal Wedding

Start of the wedding service in your timezone (I hope I’ve got this right).

About 2 billion people(!!!), a third of the planet, will watch the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. They will be watching a Christian liturgy. Now tell me that liturgy has lost its potency; tell me that liturgy doesn’t (cannot) connect with (contemporary) people…

I don’t know which rite will be used. We’ve reflected here about Kate’s recent “secret”/”private” confirmation, and wondered if the wedding will be a Eucharist (I’m suspecting not). There is much being made in the media that Kate, in her vows to William, will not “obey”. As if she is writing her own vows, or picking and choosing which bits to include in the vows. [Some are even talking about her including “with so much love in our hearts“] Most places are saying she will vow to “love, comfort, honour and keep”. There is nothing out of the ordinary about that, these are the vows in the 1928 proposed BCP, and also in Series One: The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony.

As well as being a Christian liturgy, this is particularly an Anglican liturgy – that relatively tiny denomination that contributes well above its size. Someone please correct me but I think one of the purposes of marriage, now so much taken for granted, that “it was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity”, was introduced by Cranmer to the Medieval purposes, drawing on his own experience of love and marriage.

Still, Anglicans, and Christians generally need to still do quite a bit of thinking about marriage, Christian marriage, and marriage as a sacrament. I’m still trying to make sense of the last royal wedding, of Charles and Camilla. The Archbishop of Canterbury didn’t take it, but he did bless it – explain that to me. And did Charles’s mother (the Supreme Governor of the CofE) not attend? Are they married now? Like really? In the eyes of the CofE, and if so, why couldn’t the Archbishop of Canterbury take it…

More service information here and here.

Meanwhile, speaking in a short film produced by Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop of Canterbury talks about the royal wedding.

Updated: Here is the Official Programme with all texts
Or as an iBook compatible with Apple products, which can be downloaded from the Apple iBookstore.
The translation of the Bible used is the NRSV (yay!)

Rather than updating again after watching the service, I think I may prepare a separate post-service post.

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33 thoughts on “Royal Wedding”

    1. I do not know if there is such an agreement. Certainly this is one of the points I think Christians have not thought much about. Certainly William will say to Kate, “and all my worldly goods with thee I share”. I take strong issue with making statements in church that actually do not correspond with reality, so think this is an important area for discussion. I do not think a marriage in the RC church is valid with a prenup? And see it as part of the discussion Christians need to be having.

      1. Seems I can’t find any article that actually confirms the agreement took place – and that’s wonderful news! However I did find an article that states that pre-nups were not binding in England until 2010.

        Having gone through the annulment process, it’s my understanding that a Catholic priest would not celebrate the marriage sacrament if he has knowledge that a pre nup exists and it is a question he asks when preparing the couple for marriage. However, if the couple does not disclose the existence of such a document, the marriage will not be valid if the instance of annulment should arise. This is a Catholic Church issue, not a civil one. And I could be wrong.. Canon law is complicated!

        I’m not aware of the rites of the Anglican Church. Maybe the couple could choose to have a pre nup – highly unlikely considering the royalty involved – maybe not a religious issue in this church?

        I wish them all the best – they are a beautiful couple!

        1. Thanks for your candidness about your own situation, Christine. Annulments have been front-page news here in the NZ Catholic newspaper here this month with a rise in their cost by 117%. The article states how many annulments are granted in NZ, but not how many people pay this fee and fail to receive an annulment. I cannot locate a specific canon about prenups (see 1096, 1101, 1102), but “the case of a widow and widower who intend only to protect the natural right to inheritance of children of their first marriage may be an exception” and be allowed. I do not think it is a canonical requirement of the one presiding at the wedding to check.

          Roman Catholicism has some interesting approaches to who can validly marry, both forbidding those who cannot consummate, and lauding those who do not consummate. A paraplegic may not be able to wed, but the parents of St Therese’s Josephite start is part of their hagiography.

          I do not know all the specifics of the CofE – Anglicanism is a communion with each province having its own regulations. The CofE does not straightforwardly allow divorce – hence my point about Charles and Camilla having a civil wedding. People loosely talk about Henry VIII seeking a divorce when, of course, what he was seeking was an annulment from his brother’s wife (a relationship canonically and biblically forbidden).

          The requirement in NZ Anglicanism is the intention that the marriage be for life. Certainly I would discuss any prenups in preparation; if the intention to be for life was not present the wedding could not proceed in an Anglican understanding.

    1. Thanks, Vincent. I have found the full text of the service; I will update the post with that link. The rite is clearly “Series 1” (similar to 1928 – but that didn’t have the blessing of the ring). Interestingly, “obey” is not an option in 1928, but it is an option in Series 1. Might I suggest that your issue, Vincent, is not so much with Kate and William’s choice, but with the CofE in allowing a non-obey option.

      1. You might certainly suggest that. Lex orandi est lex credendi means that a change to the order frequently means a change to the theology. The theological message of an order which has an optional “obey” is that such obedience is optional. Whilst we both know that it is only the word which is dropped and the obligation still remains fully covered by “according to God’s holy ordinance”, that will not be the understanding of those who do not know the relevant scripture. Yesterday, millions (billions?) missed out on being taught about this part of Christian marriage.

        In our response to this topic, it is worth considering how we might respond to internal and external pressure to drop “until death us to part” should a future generation start to think it an antiquated, disempowering, and unnecessary part of marriage.

        1. I think we may approach the “absence” of obey differently, Vincent. I did not see it as “missing” as it is not used in NZ. In two decades of marrying people I have never used a thee/thou wedding rite. I think that may be a stronger message – church is about antiquated stuff.

          In the contemporary NZ Anglican vows there are four options. One mentions death, the other “God keep me true to you always”, “…as long as we live”, “I will love and care for you always.” Anglican clergy are not to allow other vows, but I know that it happens. I find the latter three weaker. I do get asked to remove/alter the death phrase. Marriage preparation is always an opportunity to look at death, the commitment of marriage, and also that should one spouse die the other is free to marry again – hence the inadequacy of “always”. NZ Anglicanism has removed more and more requirements for Christian marriage – the intention that it be till death is one of the few remaining. CofE, as far as I know, does not even require that one of the partners be Christian for Christian marriage in church.

  1. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed

    I awoke at 4:50 am to watch on the Royal Channel on YouTube. It was an HD live feed provided by the BBC. It was great; a crisp picture, great color and fantastic sound. The music was assume. I joined the broadcast just as the bride was leaving her hotel.

    My favorite part; seeing the trees in the Abbey. It was beautiful.

    My least favorite part; the sermon.

    1. I’m working on a post, David, reflecting on the service – both your points were in my mind also. One TV commentator here called the sermon “a talk” – he was also surprised there was so much “religiosity”!

  2. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed

    That is interesting that the TV commentator did not expect an Anglican wedding to be religious in nature! I thought that the sermon a bit steeped in heterosexism.

    BTW, on the Royal Channel video of the wedding, a hat tip to the Anglican Communion. Starting @ 36:10, on the left side of the display, in the second row, between the chap dressed in a white robe and the tree, himself dressed in primatial purple with a simple pectoral cross, is the Most Revd David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. (He scratches his head.)

    The primates of Ireland and Wales, as well as the Archbishop of York, are also invited, but I have not noticed any of them on camera.

  3. I was curious as to why the congregation (including the Royal family) neither stood when the cross processed down the aisle, nor reveranced the cross as it passed by?

    1. Thanks for that tip, Susan. I missed that – maybe with the particular camera feed I watched. Was the cross with a procession of the clergy, because I missed how they got to the sanctuary. I can add your point to the post-wedding reflection post coming here.

      Comment updated: I checked the feed I watched, BBC, which went from Kate arriving to her processing in, so it did not have the procession you mention. All were standing in our feed at that time, so I cannot comment further unless someone points to a video online of that.

  4. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed

    The congregation were following the instructions. This is from the order published in the Telegraph. (emphasis mine);

    At 10.55am the Procession of the Clergy moves to places in the Sacrarium. All remain seated.


    A Verger

    The Lord Bishop of London and Dean of Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal

    The Primatial Cross of Canterbury

    The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan

    A Verger

    The Cross of Westminster and Taperers

    The Chaplains

    The Minor Canons of Westminster

    The Canons’ Verger

    The Canons of Westminster

  5. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed

    Just prior to the Procession of the Clergy was the Procession of the Queen in which the congregation was instructed to stand at the fanfare announcing her arrival and to remain standing until she and her entourage* reached the Lantern.

    She was escorted by the Dean and accompanied by her husband, the Prince of Wales and his wife.

    1. Thanks, Peter. Although I am aware of a lot of energy going into certain aspects of requirements for marriage, I’m not aware of much discussion in (NZ) Anglicanism whether having a pre-nup is possible for Christian marriage… Once again, those discussions appear to be driven by a certain focus, rather than a total look at marriage and its understanding and theology.

  6. I don’t know how they came to the sanctuary either–only saw the vergers leading the royal procession and the bridal procession. When I noticed it was during the retiring procession when the clergy left before the bride and groom emerged from the room behind the altar. People stood for the bride and groom but not for the cross and clergy. Thanks.

    1. I would have to go and look at that part of the service again. Your points encourage some questions: I think it helpful to think of the procession bringing the cross in – we mostly talk about the cross leading the procession in. Do we stand (at the start) to honour the clergy, or because standing is the primary Christian posture and the service is starting? Are the ordained to be honoured more than other baptised? Etc.

  7. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed

    In this case the congregation only stood and honored the Queen. There was no standing for anyone else until the actual start of the service which was heralded by the fanfare announcing the arrival of the bride and the entrance of the bridegroom. Everyone remained standing through the opening hymn, the exhortation by the Dean to the couple, the vows with the Archbishop and the singing of the second hymn. The congregation were finally seated with the couple when the younger brother of the bride, James, rose to read the only scripture of the service.

    1. Interesting responses today: some had missed the vows as they came so early in the service – there was not the build up to them that I point to in my post.

  8. Nor anywhere else in the AC, as far as I know. It may have something to do with establishment.

  9. Margaret Sartin

    I would like a copy of the OFFICIAL PROGRAMME. Can you tell me how I can receive one?
    A young girl in the family is interested.
    Thank You

  10. Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed

    Margaret, if someone in her family has an Apple iOS device, such as an iPhone or an iPad, you can download the Official Program for free as an iBook to view on the device.

    Otherwise, they were selling the actual programs for £2 in the UK.

  11. I wonder, regarding the Royal Wedding liturgy, if anyone might explain why Prince William and his bride left the Abbey AFTER the clergy, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. In particular, it bothered me (and I am unapologetically Episcopalian) that everyone sat while the Cross was processing out of the Abbey, whereas all stood for the bride and groom at the end of the procession. This would appear to give individuals precedence over God…. Not right, in my book.

    1. Good questions, SG. I hope someone might respond. Please can you use your ordinary name here – there is nothing in your comment requiring anonymity. Blessings.

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