When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married, their wedding was like something out of a fairy tale. And what’s more, the couple combined elements from both of their backgrounds for the star-studded ceremony. But there was one moment in particular that left the internet fascinated – and members of the congregation stunned.
Prince Harry, 33, and Meghan Markle, 36, married at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018. The couple had become engaged several months earlier after around a year and a half of dating. So when it came to planning their big day, it seems that they wanted to do something different.
Although Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton was very traditional, Harry and Meghan decided to draw on both of their cultures for their big day. For one thing, the wedding was attended by many celebrities, including Oprah, George and Amal Clooney, and David and Victoria Beckham. Meghan’s close friend Serena Williams and her Suits co-stars were also there to share in the celebrations.
The music was carefully selected, too. Karen Gibson led the Kingdom Choir, a Christian gospel choir, in a rendition of “Stand By Me,” and 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason played for the guests while the bride and groom signed the wedding register. Yet while these were both popular moments online, there was something else that made even more of an impact.
Yes, an estimated 29 million people watched the nuptials in the U.S. alone. And although online commenters had plenty to say about everything from Meghan’s dress to the page boys, one moment in particular seemed to stand out. Surprisingly, the event occurred even before the couple exchanged their vows.
You see, Bishop Michael Curry delivered an animated sermon during the hour-long ceremony. The 65-year-old’s wedding address was called “The Power Of Love.” And while his words and demeanor delighted many in the audience and online, some members of the royal family appeared to be shocked.
Curry presides over The Episcopal Church, the Anglican church in the U.S. In fact, having been ordained in 1978, he became the first black head of the church in 2015. And Harry and Meghan requested for Curry to take part in their wedding although they were not personally acquainted with him.
Fortunately, he seemingly didn’t tone down his powerful sermon to fit with the traditional British setting. He began his 14-minute speech by telling Harry and Meghan, “We’re going to sit down. We gotta get y’all married!” Curry then quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love,” Curry quoted. “And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.” The preacher added, “There’s power in love. Do not underestimate it. Anyone who has ever fallen in love, knows what I mean.”
Curry further discussed how love can affect not just our personal lives, but also politics and social issues. He said, “Love can help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.”
And he explained how that relates to the royal couple. “Such power could be seen in the service,” he said. “Two young people fell in love, and we all showed up.”
Curry was also extremely enthusiastic as he talked to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their 600 guests. Harry appeared to be listening closely during the address, and Meghan was smiling. The preacher then drew laughter from the crowd when he asked who had traveled to the service in a car and said, “I know there were some carriages.”
While people in the congregation, including David Beckham, appeared to be loving every minute of Curry’s energetic speech, others seemingly weren’t sure how to respond. Elton John, who later performed during the private reception, appeared shocked, for instance. But it was the reactions from members of the royal family that created a social media storm.
For their part, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie were smiling and giggling as they listened to the sermon. Prince William and Prince Charles looked to be stifling laughter, too. Of course, Queen Elizabeth II managed to remain poker-faced throughout.
But the same couldn’t be said for all of the royals. Indeed, Kate Middleton appeared to be stunned by Curry’s words. And William and Harry’s pregnant cousin Zara Phillips went viral after she was spotted apparently in shock with her mouth agape.
Many people subsequently tweeted about Curry – and the reactions of Harry’s very traditional family. “Lovely moment as the preacher takes the royals to the edge of their comfort zone,” journalist Mark Austin shared. And the BBC’s Jeremy Vine agreed, “The preacher is doing 50 in a 30 zone, and it’s brilliant.”
Others admired how Meghan, whose mother Doria is African American, incorporated aspects of her heritage into her wedding day. “I’m from West Memphis… and my wedding wasn’t even this black,” ABC News anchor T.J. Holmes tweeted. “I’ve learned in my life that anytime a black pastor says ‘I’m wrapping up’… you should get comfortable. But take your time, Mr. Curry. I’m loving this.”
It was clear, then, that many people appreciated the way Harry and Meghan brought modernity and diversity to a royal wedding. And the groom seemed to adore the unconventional speech, too. After Curry’s address, Harry turned to Meghan and said, “Wow.”
Curry wrapped up his sermon by returning once more to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. “Dr. King was right: we must discover love,” he said. “The redemptive power of love, and when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world.”
Although Curry delivered an extremely impassioned address, he confessed in the days after the ceremony that he had been worried about the large responsibility. “First, I must admit to being a little bit nervous at the beginning,” he said with a laugh during an appearance on Today. “But then after that, it turned into a church, and I was speaking to a young couple in love.”