Why is Meghan Markle really getting baptised?

Why is Meghan Markle getting baptised and confirmed before her wedding to Prince Harry?

The US actress is reported to have been brought up as a Protestant but attended a Catholic school, so religion has been far from absent in her life. However, Kensington Palace confirmed to Christian Today that she has not previously been baptised. This is not as unusual as might be thought. The standard model in most evangelical churches (the likely meaning of the widely-reported 'Protestant', which also covers the Church of England) is believer baptism, often in the mid to late teens, and there might have been various reasons for not taking this step.

Instagram/Finlay & CoMeghan Markle is to be baptised before her wedding.

So why now?

Britain's Royal Family is intimately intertwined with the Church of England, and as part of her royal duties Meghan Markle will be expected to attend church services. On occasions, this may involve taking communion. In the Church of England, this is reserved for people who have been baptised (it's in the Church's Canon B15A, 'Of the Admission to Holy Communion'). According to this rule, 'baptized persons who are communicant members of other Churches which subscribe to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and who are in good standing in their own Church' can received communion, so if Ms Markle had been baptized as a believer in an evangelical church there wouldn't be a problem.

As she hasn't been baptized at all, though, technically she would have to remain seated while other royals went up to the altar rail, and the optics of that would not be good.

Is it fair, then, to say the baptism, and presumably confirmation, are just a formality, designed to smooth her entry into her new life? Not at all. There might be elements of that, but it would be entirely wrong to assume that because she hasn't been baptized already she isn't a Christian believer. Baptism as an adult is a serious step, that usually results from a deep involvement in a local congregation. That might be the ideal, but not everyone's life is that shape. It doesn't mean they don't believe.

Furthermore, no responsible Anglican priest is going to let the Church be used as an administrative convenience. At her baptism, Ms Markle will have to make promises and affirmations of faith. She'll mean it, or it won't happen.

This is another step on a faith journey which has so far been private. Christians should be glad this is happening, and not cynical about it.

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