As spectators around the world tune in on Saturday to watch the royal wedding of Prince Harry of Wales and American actress Meghan Markle, Yalies take note: Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry DIV ’78 will deliver the wedding’s sermon.

After receiving a master of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School in 1978, Curry first became a deacon at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, New York and then a priest at St. Stephen’s in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. After working as a rector at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Baltimore in 2000, Curry became the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. And in November 2015, the Episcopal Church, which is based in the United States and boasts roughly 1.8 million predominately white members, elected Curry the church’s first black presiding bishop. Kensington Palace announced last week that Curry would be speaking at the ceremony.  

Curry, known in the American religious community for his lively sermons, will speak in between the Dean of Windsor David Conner’s opening remarks and the marriage vows, which will be officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. He is the first American to be invited to speak at a royal wedding.

Curry did not immediately respond to request for comment for this story.

As presiding bishop and effective spiritual leader of the Episcopal Church, Curry has drawn attention to himself as a strong advocate for progressive causes. In March, Curry threw his support behind an amicus brief arguing for transgender equality in bathroom use policies. Curry has also publicly defended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, worked on several poverty-relief campaigns and has plans to march on Washington to protest the Trump administration shortly after the royal wedding.

At a time when many Britons already view the addition of Markle, a biracial American who has spoken publicly about her struggles with racism and gender equality, as a step toward a more inclusive and progressive royal family, Curry’s appearance at the wedding may also ruffle conservative feathers.

Two and a half years ago, the Anglican Church — the Episcopal Church’s English progenitor — placed sanctions on the Episcopal Church that limited its ability participate in Anglican religious matters in retaliation for the Episcopal Church’s authorization of same-sex marriages in July 2015. Curry derided the Church of England for its decision.

“For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope,” Curry said in 2016. “And this will add pain.”

Despite presiding over the decision to sanction Curry’s church, Welby tweeted on May 12 that Curry is a “brilliant pastor, stunning preacher and someone with a great gift for sharing the good news.”

This is not the first time Yale has come up as a popular topic in royal gossip about Prince Harry. A Page Six story from March 2016 claimed that Yale students were “in a tizzy” over rumors that the prince might enroll at Yale Law School with the help of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who briefly lectured at the University.

The rumors caused a small stir. Journalist Piers Morgan wrote a public letter warning Prince Harry that Yale was too “fraught and tense with political correctness” to be enjoyable anymore. An article in the Daily Beast pointed out that the prince has reportedly struggled with academics for most of his life and probably could not handle the workload at Yale. In any case, the rumors proved false.

The Yale Center for British Art will host a screening of the royal wedding on Saturday morning.

Britton O’Daly | britton.odaly@yale.edu