The day has finally arrived, when the United Kingdom’s Prince Harry and his bride, American actress Meghan Markle, tied the knot.
As the happy couple says “I do,” they will be joined on the alter by The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, the current Archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. His Parents Are Jane Gillian Portal & Sir Anthony Montague Browne & His Early life Was Difficult
Welby was born Master Justin Portal Welby on January 6, 1956, in London, England. His mother, Jane Gillian Portal, served as personal secretary to Sir Winston Churchill until she married Gavin Bramhall James Welby. As reported by the Guardian, in 2016 Welby underwent a paternity test and learned that his biological father was actually Sir Anthony Montague Browne, with whom his mother had a brief romantic relationship prior to meeting Gavin Welby.
Within a month of finding out the truth of his parentage, Welby wrote a column for the Telegraph, saying that, despite being shocked, nothing had changed. He intimated that the parents who raised him were both alcoholics his mother has been in recovery for nearly 50 years, while his father died as a result of alcohol and smoking in 1977.
” At the very outset of my inauguration service three years ago, Evangeline Kanagasooriam, a young member of the Canterbury Cathedral congregation, said: “We greet you in the name of Christ. Who are you, and why do you request entry?” To which I responded: “I am Justin, a servant of Jesus Christ, and I come as one seeking the grace of God to travel with you in His service together.” What has changed? Nothing!” his Telegraph column said.
2. He Attended St. Peter’s, Eton & Trinity College & Worked in Financial Management Before Becoming the Ministry
Welby attended St. Peter’s, a prep school for young boys in Seaford, East Sussex. He later attended Eton College, also the alma mater of Prince Harry, and Trinity College in Cambridge. While at Cambridge, he met Caroline Eaton, whom he would later marry.The two have had six children together, the first of whom, Johanna, was only 7-months-old when she died in a traffic collision, the Telegraph reports.
Prior to his ministry, Welby spent 11 years in financial management in the oil industry, according to a press release from Coventry Cathedral, “where he gained experience of Middle East relations.”
Welby was initially rejected from his ministry calling by John Hughes, the Bishop of Kensington, who’d told Welby “There is no place for you in the Church of England,” according to the Telegraph. Nevertheless, he attended St. John’s College in preparation to serve as a priest and was ordained as a deacon in 1992. The following year he was ordained a priest.
“In 2002 he was made a Canon of Coventry Cathedral, where he jointly led its international reconciliation work. During this time he worked extensively in Africa and the Middle East. Archbishop Justin has had a passion for reconciliation and peace-making ever since,” the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website reads. The site also reports he was named Dean of Liverpool Cathedral in 2007, a position he held until 2011.
3. He Was Named Bishop of Durham in 2011
In December 2007, Welby was appointed and installed as the Dean of Liverpool and served in that role for nearly four years. As the BBC reports, he was selected to become the Bishop of Durham in June 2011, after the previous bishop, Dr. Nicholas Thomas Wright, accepted a professorship at St Mary’s College, St Andrews in Scotland, according to the Durham Diocese.
Welby called the post a huge privilege but admitted he expected the role to be challenging.
“Becoming a bishop only a year ago, he made an instant name for himself by overturning the way the Church in Durham is run. Congregations were struggling to pay what was being demanded of them for the central pot, which is used mainly for the salaries of priests. The new bishop said instead: ‘OK, you tell us how much you can afford to pay, and we will set the diocesan budget accordingly.’ It sounds simple, but was revolutionary in this context. The result so far has been some parishes paying even more, because of a greater sense of ownership,” the Telegraph reported in 2012.
A year later, Welby was named Archbishop of Canterbury.
4. He Released His 3 Personal Priorities for His Ministry
Upon ascending to the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Welby released what the his official website described as this “three personal priorities for his ministry.”
“The first is a renewal of prayer and Religious life throughout the church. The second is seeking reconciliation within the church, and supporting the Church in its role as a peacemaker. The third is encouraging every Christian to share their faith and see themselves as a witness to Jesus Christ. These priorities are central to everything the Archbishop does,” his website reads.
Welby describes prayer as a “partnership with God,” through which Christians find their true identities. Reconciliation, as defined by some faiths, involves the confession of one’s sins to receive God’s absolution. Welby describes it the attempt to heal and bring together damaged relationships beyond the absence of conflict. The Archbishop also places great emphasis on evangelism to grow the faith, calling it “the setting forth of the good news of Jesus so that all can hear and respond.”
5. A Prayer for the Royal Wedding Has Been Released
According to Access, Markle has already been accepted into the Anglican faith, and Welby baptized her in a secret ceremony in March 2018.
The Church of England has released a prayer for the royal wedding. It can be read below:
“God of love,
send your blessing upon Harry and Meghan,
and all who are joined in marriage,
that, rejoicing in your will
and continuing under your protection,
they may both live and grow in your love
all their days,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
This stands in contrast to the previous royal wedding, between then-Prince William and Kate Middleton, who wrote their own prayer for the ceremony, as the Telegraph reported.
God our Father, we thank
you for our families; for
the love that we share and
for the joy of our marriage.
In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on
what is real and important
in life and help us to be generous with our time
and love and energy.
Strengthened by our union, help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.