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Archbishop of Canterbury says being in Royal Family is like serving ‘life without parole’

Archbishop of Canterbury says being in Royal Family is like serving ‘life without parole’ as he warns Prince Harry will never escape ‘celeb’ status

  • Justin Welby: Being a member of the Royal Family is like ‘life without parole’
  • Archbishop of Canterbury suggested public have unrealistic expectations
  • CoE’s top clergman said: ‘We expect them [Royals] to be superhuman’
  • Welby presided over Harry and Meghan’s wedding at Windsor Castle in 2018 

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called being a member of the royal family like serving ‘life without parole’ as he warned that Prince Harry will never escape his ‘celeb’ status in an extraordinary interview.

Justin Welby, the Church of England’s most senior clergyman, suggested the British public have unrealistic expectations when it comes to members of the royal family as he claimed: ‘We expect them to be superhuman’.

The 65-year-old Anglican presided over the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Windsor Castle in 2018, having earlier joined them for a secret exchange of vows in Kensington Palace Gardens. 

He later rejected Meghan’s claim in her interview with Oprah Winfrey that he had married them at the secret ceremony, insisting that he signed their wedding certificate on the day millions watched them marry. 

In a wide-ranging chat with the Financial Times, Mr Welby has expressed his sympathy for Harry and Meghan’s exit from royalty, noting that being a member of the Firm is like serving ‘life without parole’. 

He also repeated his Easter Sunday service warning that the UK is suffering a ‘national case of PTSD’ from coronavirus, which may well ‘show itself’ in the future. 

Mr Welby has been an outspoken critic of the Government’s policy on Brexit and austerity, and has clashed repeatedly with Tory MPs in recent years.

However, clerical critics have been enraged by his acquiescence to government shutdowns of places of worship during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Justin Welby presided over the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Windsor Castle in 2018, having earlier joined them for an exchange of vows in Kensington Palace Gardens

Mr Welby said ‘feeling angry at God is absolutely fine’ and that he sometimes says ‘prayers of lament and protest’ during dark times. 

The archbishop also warned that the Church of England cannot take for granted its place at the heart of English society.

‘Remember, we go back, the church in England, to 597,’ he cautioned. ‘There’s a sense that we’ll always be here. Inertia gets built into the whole culture of the thing. And part of that is good… but we need to change.’

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Welby was also asked whether pets can go to heaven, remarking: ‘I have never been asked that question before.’

After a pause, the Archbishop of Canterbury eventually remarked: ‘Given the fondness we have for our dog, our current dog and the previous one, I am quite prepared to believe that pets go to heaven.’

Mr Welby also condemned banks that force their junior employees to work up to 95 hours per week, declaring them to be unethical and ‘plain wrong’. 

Mr Welby, the Church of England's most senior clergyman, suggested the British public have unrealistic expectations when it comes to members of the royal family

Mr Welby, the Church of England’s most senior clergyman, suggested the British public have unrealistic expectations when it comes to members of the royal family

The archbishop broke his silence on what Harry and Meghan told Oprah last month, insisting the legal wedding was on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at St George’s Chapel in Windsor – the day millions watched the public ceremony. 

In her interview, Meghan raised eyebrows when she claimed she and Harry were married ‘just the two of us in our backyard with the Archbishop of Canterbury’.

But the 65-year-old Anglican waded into the controversy by telling an Italian newspaper: ‘The legal wedding was on the Saturday.’

He was asked ‘what happened with Meghan and Harry? Did you really marry them three days before the official wedding?’ 

But then the archbishop added: ‘I had a number of private and pastoral meetings with the duke and duchess before the wedding.

‘The legal wedding was on the Saturday. I signed the wedding certificate, which is a legal document, and I would have committed a serious criminal offence if I signed it knowing it was false.

‘So you can make what you like about it. But the legal wedding was on the Saturday. But I won’t say what happened at any other meetings.’

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