The Church of England was founded in 1534 when the notoriously picky King Henry VIII failed to convince the Pope to grant him a divorce from his first bride Catherine of Aragon.
Undeterred by Rome’s snub, the stubborn monarch decided to leave the Catholic Church and create his own brand of Christianity, giving himself the power to divorce and remarry as he saw fit.
In the process — he had a total of six wives in his lifetime, beheading two of them after they failed to give him a son.
Despite his daughter Mary I’s attempts to reinstate Catholicism in her realm (she burned countless Protestants at the stake during her reign, earning her the nickname Bloody Mary), Henry’s church became the official religion of the royal family and it remains that way today. The current queen’s full title is actually the ‘Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England,’ and she retains the right to advise the Prime Minister on the appointment of deans, bishops, and even archbishops. She essentially controls Britain’s 12,600 parishes.
A royal marrying outside of the faith was against the law in the U.K. for hundreds of years, though the rules were relaxed in 2015, which was good news for Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan Markle — the former Suits actress went to a private Catholic all-girls school in the States.
Source: Nicki Swift