Well, I guess this lofty news source makes things extra, extra official.
Concerning the faith angle in the upcoming royal wedding, Brides.com has proclaimed: "Meghan Markle Has to Be Baptized Before Marrying Prince Harry -- Here’s Why."
Wait a minute: "Has to be baptized"?
Yes, it's time for more British Royals talk, a subject that -- in certain corners of global media -- is even more important than politics. We're talking about the highest possible level of celebrity status and, in the world of click-bait, there is no higher value (check out the three Google News screens of Meghan Markle coverage at Brides.com). That sound you hear is editors and TV producers muttering: "If only Prince Harry had picked a Kardashian."
But the question of Markle's faith is, as I discussed earlier this week ("Royal wedding quiz: Must a 'Protestant' be baptized in order to become an Anglican?"), actually rather interesting.
The bottom line" Since when does some one "have" to be baptized in order to become a member of the Church of England? That would either mean, while consistently being called a "Protestant," she (a) was never baptized in the first place or (b) there was, doctrinally speaking, something flawed about her baptism. If we're talking about the later, that has some interesting implications in terms of ecumenical life.
So this baptism controversy was the issue that host Todd Wilken and I waded into (see what I did there) during this week's "Crossroads" podcast (click here to listen to that).
No, we didn't talk about Brides.com, but the content there would not have addressed any of the questions that we raised. For example:
This bride needs to be baptized! Before marrying Prince Harry, Meghan Markle actually needs to be baptized in the Church of England, which her soon-to-be grandmother-in-law, the queen of England, heads.
Well, that's a complicated question, mixing church and state. Moving on:
... Kensington Palace issued a statement reading, "The marriage of His Royal Highness Prince Harry of Wales and Ms. Meghan Markle will take place at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle in May 2018. Her Majesty the Queen has granted permission for the wedding to take place at the Chapel." But ahead of that May day, Markle first needs to be both baptized and confirmed in the Church of England before being allowed to marry in it.
Again, "needs to be both baptized and confirmed" is the claim. Brides.com then switches to reporting by The Mirror: So here is that source:
A person wishing to marry in a church is not required to be christened or confirmed but will usually have a link to that church in some way. ... The decision for Meghan to be baptised and confirmed before the wedding will be seen as a nod to the Queen's strong faith and traditions within the monarchy.
Meanwhile, there is all kinds of news-media confusion out there on a basic question about Meghan's background and beliefs: What IS she? Protestant, evangelical (she is a spokesperson for World Vision), Pentecostal? Her father is an Episcopalian, so she already has some Anglican DNA. Her mother is the source of the vague "Protestant" label.
Thus, Time magazine has the following, in a feature entitled "5 Ways Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Engagement Is Groundbreaking."
2. She was raised as a Catholic
Far more serious from a historical perspective would have been Markle’s faith. Until 2015, Prince Harry would have been forbidden from marrying a Catholic under royal succession rules, as his grandmother is head of the Protestant Church of England. The regulations were eased as part of a broader shift to remove male bias and religious discrimination in the royal order.
What, pray tell, does "raised" mean? Is she a Roman Catholic or not? Was she baptized as a Catholic and, if so, why in the world would Markle need to be baptized as an Anglican? It helps to note that all the other news coverage on this issue, pretty much around the world, notes that as a girl she attended Catholic schools -- like legions of other non-Catholics.
Now, there could be one simple answer for what is happening: What if Markle's Christian faith is so vague, and that faith has played such a minor role in her life, that she was never baptized in the first place? Maybe that's the case, but I think that would be strange for someone speaking on behalf of World Vision.
So is there evidence of that? In the world of online commentary, the Royal Musings blog claims inside information obtained from Samantha Markle Grant, the estranged half-sister of the future princess.
(Samantha) does not believe that Meghan's mother, Doria, is Roman Catholic. She does not know if Doria is a member of any church.
Meghan attended at Roman Catholic High School, but Roman Catholic schools are filled with non-Roman Catholic Christians - and even non-Christians. ... So what is Meghan's religion? It is possible that she was not raised in any religion.
Has Meghan Markle been baptized anywhere? Royal Musings saith:
Samantha said no.
Well, that would answer the big question. The other question is whether any of this matters to Prince Harry or to his bride to be. What do most Brits think?
We could be talking about another sign of the great transition that is to come when Queen Elizabeth is gone. Will Britain have a Defender of The Faith or a Defender of (Moralistic Therapeutic Deism) Faith, without the telltale "The"?
Enjoy the podcast. And ponder the symbolism of this famous scene from "The Queen."