How The Royal Family's Policy On Divorce Has Changed

Photo: Desiree Navarro/WireImage.
So much history is being made today after it was announced that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are officially engaged. This union is a huge step in a more modern direction for the royal family, who, come the spring 2018 wedding, will welcome its first Black member. She's also a) American, b) an actress, and c) divorced. She split with former husband Trevor Engelson in 2013. Times they are a-changing, and while in 2017 it's not really a scandal for someone who has been divorced to remarry into the royal family, things haven't always been so laissez-faire.
However, they have never been clear-cut, either. Much of the current protocol stems for the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013. Whereas before the Queen had to approve of every single royal marriage, now that just applies to the marriages of the first six people in the line of succession (Prince Harry is fifth). The act also ended the disqualification of someone who married a Roman Catholic from the line of succession — something to be thankful for now, since Markle was raised Catholic.
As far as divorce is concerned, the Queen is the head of the Church of England, which revised its policy on divorce and remarriage as a part of the General Synod in 2002.
"The Church of England teaches that marriage is for life," the declared. "It also recognises that some marriages sadly do fail and, if this should happen, it seeks to be available for all involved. The Church accepts that, in exceptional circumstances, a divorced person may marry again in church during the lifetime of a former spouse."
Therefore, there was really no reason or worry that the Queen would disapprove of the match. In fact, she only hasn't said yes once, back in 1953 when her sister Princess Margaret wanted to marry divorcé Peter Townsend. This was before the Church of England changed its stance. Margaret eventually called-off the engagement, many believe due to her sister's reluctance to approve it.
That wasn't the first or last time a member of the royal family married a divorcé, or gotten remarried after a divorce themselves.
Elizabeth's uncle, Edward VIII, abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry divorced American Wallis Simpson. Prince Harry’s own father, Prince Charles, divorced Princess Diana in 1996 at Queen Elizabeth's urging before going on to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles in 2005.
Basically, as cultural values have changed, so have those of the British monarchy — and good thing, too, since this wedding is sure to be incredible.
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