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A Look at the Black Presence at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Wedding

Prince William and Meghan Markle officially tied the knot Saturday, May 19, becoming the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The British prince and American actress were reportedly responsible for some of the planning for their wedding ceremony that took place at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, so perhaps it isn’t a surprise that there was a strong Black presence at the event.

Millions who tuned into the wedding in the U.K. and from around the world, witnessed what were perhaps standout elements of the royal ceremony due to several distinct moments, all centered on the participation of particular Black guests.

First off, American Bishop and Primate of the Episcopalian Church, the Right Rev. Michael Curry, gave a rousing message titled “The Power of Love” to those gathered at St. George’s Chapel. The Episcopal Church’s first African-American presiding bishop not only emphasized the power of love in bringing people together to positively impact the world, he also quoted Martin Luther King Jr. and attempted a bit of call and response to the crowd—which apparently puzzled some of the British guests who are perhaps more used to understated presentations from the Anglican clergy.

Bishop Michael Curry.

However, powerhouse guest Oprah Winfrey was apparently feeling the bishop’s message, as she was seen on camera rocking back and forth as he delivered his remarks.

As it goes, Meghan Markle, who’s father is White and mother is Black, was the one who personally invited Bishop Curry to give remarks, while his Anglican counterpart, the Most Reverend and Right Honorable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, officiated the wedding vows.

Another standout moment for those watching was the excellent gospel-centric Kingdom Choir, led by Karen Gibson. The award-winning Kingdom Choir, a local British ensemble, most notably performed “Stand By Me.”

Perhaps no one expected to hear a 1960s American pop tune during the British ceremony—especially with much of the songs performed during the wedding being older hymns and melodies. However, the romantic song was originally inspired by a spiritual titled “Stand By Me Father,” penned by Sam Cooke and J. W. Alexander called. In addition, “Stand By Me” makes reference to parts of the Bible’s Psalm 46, which keeps it in tune with the solemnity of the occasion.

As Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exited St. George’s Chapel and stood on the steps to greet crowds officially as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the Kingdom Choir’s singing of other another iconic Black tune could be heard in the background—”Amen/This little light of mine,” popularly performed by Etta James.

Some viewers were surprised to learn that the Rev. Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who read a prayer during the wedding ceremony and holds several titles, is the Queen’s chaplain. Having embraced a call to the clergy at just 14, the Jamaica-born Hudson-Wilkin emigrated to the U.K. four years later for studies at the Church Army college.

The Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Queen’s Chaplain
The Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the Queen’s Chaplain. (Photo: videograb)

Her appointment as Honorary Chaplain to the Queen in 2008 was not without controversy, as she was the first woman and first non-White clergy assigned to the role. Hudson-Wilkin’s presence as the most senior Black female cleric in the Church of England also comes with personal challenges, as she revealed in interviews about the racism and sexism she’s faced.

Finally, viewers were also impressed by cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s flawless performance. The 19-year-old musician is the first winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year award. Kanneh-Mason performed “Sicilienne,” “Après un rêve,” and “Ave Maria” and was accompanied by an orchestra composed of musicians from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonic with Christopher Warren-Green as conductor. The youth, whose sister is also a musician, managed to get a photo in with Bishop Curry before the wedding ceremony kicked off.

Watch highlights from the royal wedding.

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Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.


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