There’s no shortage of headlines about Prince Harry at the moment, but what does the royal’s Christian faith actually look like?
Today is the day that Prince Harry publishes his eagerly anticipated memoir Spare. It would probably be more eagerly anticipated if the Guardian hadn’t got their hands on an advanced leaked copy and published all the most scandalous extracts. It’s a bit like going to watch a movie when the trailer already gave the main plot points away.
I’m going to read it. I’m a journalist and it’s all anyone will be talking about for ages – more’s the pity. I watched the Oprah interview and the six-part Netflix documentary series. I found both of those interesting and moving in parts and a little frustrating in others. But overall I was left horrified and filled with sympathy for Meghan at the abusive messages and threats she’s endured and deeply sad that there’s such a fracture in a family, that I’m certain, really do love each other. I’m worried I will feel a bit less fuzzy about Harry after reading this book, but so far I’ve only heard the indignation of other journalists and not his words for myself.
Whenever I start reading about someone, I always ask myself the same question: “But are they Christian?” Before I picked up the Duke of Sussex’s book, I just wanted to work out what kind of spiritual support and faith he had. Here’s some obvious information; Prince Harry is obliged to be a member of the Church of England. Before his brother had children, he was third in line to receive the title “Supreme Governor” of that church. The Royal Family as a whole will always identify as Christian. But anyone who’s tried to #FilterForFaith on a mainstream dating app will know that just because someone ticks the Christian box on the form, does not mean you’re singing from the same hymn sheet.
Prince Harry is obliged to be a member of the Church of England.
Writing about the Christian faith of future King Prince William, a USA Today journalist said: “For his part, William has expressed little concern about or commitment to either the Church of England or Christianity. Those close to the couple say they are, like their peers, quietly indifferent about religion.”
Like all of the Royals, Harry was baptised and confirmed. When he lived in the UK, he continued to go to church on big occasions like Christmas and Easter but he never spoken about attending regular services on a Sunday. He got married in a church, although it would have been a huge statement had he chosen to go to a registry office. But in addition Meghan Markle chose to be baptised and confirmed into the Church of England before the wedding despite not needing to in order to marry Harry. This I think is the most compelling argument for him feeling a connection to his faith – if he genuinely didn’t then why would she think it important to take that step?
If Prince Harry genuinely didn’t care about his faith - then why would Meghan think it important to be baptised into the Church of England?
On the other hand, the media has been awash with stories of Harry’s lifestyle which has ranged from wild to wholesome at different stages of his life. Much of this is reportedly covered in his autobiography including his use of recreational drugs and losing his virginity to a spanking older woman. Activities in this genre are unlikely to have been condoned by a church community or leadership. Although there are plenty of Christians who experiment with their behaviour – particularly in their adolescence.
Ultimately, we can’t know for sure. There’s no way to peel back the layers to see what’s in someone’s heart. What is certain, is that he is a real person. He is unlikely to be feeling at peace at the moment, in the midst of a media storm and a family conflict. He needs our prayer. And, if it hasn’t already, he needs his ritual of religion to become a deep connection with his Creator.