US bishop Michael Curry's royal wedding address prompts huge response

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle listen to an address by Bishop Michael Curry (Owen Humphreys/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

American bishop Most Rev Michael Curry gave a dramatic address during the Royal wedding that prompted mixed reactions from viewers on social media.

At the service in St George’s Chapel, the bishop opened his emotional 14-minute speech entitled The Power of Love with the words of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

The bishop, the first African-American presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, said: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way."

Watch the full speech here:

He told the service: “There’s power in love. Love can help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.”

The passionate speech had many people reaching for their handkerchiefs, however for some it highlighted the slight culture gap between Americans and Brits.

With Brits having a reputation for a stiff upper lip, some online commentators joked that the royal family were somewhat blindsided by the emotional address.

American actor Josh Gad tweeted: “Watching the Brits watch an American Preacher do his thing in Windsor is giving me life right now. It’s like watching Metallica do a concert at the Old Globe.”

Commentator Hugo Rifkind tweeted: “I love how the entire British royal family is visibly dying of embarrassment because somebody is shouting openly about love at a wedding.”

Jeremy Clarkson was unenthusiastic about the length of the speech, tweeting: “What if this American vicar never stops?”

Meanwhile, Television presenter Alison Hammond claimed Curry was “giving me life”, while actor Miranda Hart said: “This wedding is the best TV show I have ever seen. I have cried, cringed, laughed and cried some more and there was one scene that was awesome ‘but just a bit too long’.”

The Bishop’s address didn’t just inspire fun reactions, however, and some Twitter users pointed out that it was a historical milestone.

Elamin Abdelmahmoud tweeted: “A black reverend preaching to British royalty about the resilience of faith during slavery is 10000000% not what I thought I was waking up for, the royal wedding is good.”

Angela Griffin wrote: “Not sure I’ve ever seen so many people of colour involved in any royal event ever. Feeling quite proud watching with my 10 year old mixed race daughter”

Holly Brockwell said: “It’s impossible to overstate how incredibly significant it is that black culture and traditions are being incorporated into this ceremony and the royal tradition. True progress.”

  • Who is Michael Curry?

The Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry was the first African-American man to become leader of the Episcopal Church and has served as the 27th presiding bishop and primate since 2015.

His stirring address to a packed St George's Chapel on Saturday gave an insight into his career as a cleric, touching on social issues such as poverty and injustice.

He is a modernising force in the Episcopal Church and has defended to other archbishops from the Anglican Communion its decision to bless same-sex marriages.

The Episcopal Church first emerged in the US from the Church of England and both are now part of the global Anglican Communion.

Born in Chicago in 1953, Bishop Curry hailed from a family of black Episcopalians and was ordained in 1978, while there was still a bitter racial divide among congregations.

He told the New York Times in 2016: "When I was in seminary, the expectation at the time was that if you were a black priest or seminarian, you were going to be serving in black churches. There was a black church world and a white church world. That was the given-ness of racism, not that anybody said anything."

After serving as a bishop for 15 years in North Carolina, he was elected to the church's most senior role at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, on June 27 2015.

His conviction throughout was to create "a fundamental, Christianised, free disposition for working to create a church and a world where there is room for everybody".

A key tenet of his work since taking over the role has been "racial reconciliation", described on the church's website as "the spiritual practice of seeking loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God and one another, and striving to heal and transform injustice and brokenness in ourselves, our communities, institutions and society".

He has also spent years campaigning on immigration policy in the US and other issues of social justice while also leading a campaign to raise 400,000 US dollars (#297,000) to pay for malaria nets which saved 100,000 lives, the church website says.

In January, Bishop Curry published a letter in response to the sexual harassment scandal that engulfed Hollywood when alleged widespread abuse by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein came to light.

He wrote: "As our societies have been forced into fresh recognition that women in all walks of life have suffered unspoken trauma at the hands of male aggressors and harassers, we have become convinced that the Episcopal Church must work even harder to create a church that is not simply safe, but holy, humane and decent.

"We must commit to treating every person as a child of God, deserving of dignity and respect. We must also commit to ending the systemic sexism, misogyny and misuse of power that plague the church just as they corrupt our culture, institutions and governments."