A source recently told PEOPLE that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will take about six weeks off towards the end of the year to spend "family time" together

By Helen Murphy
October 27, 2019 01:30 PM
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One of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry‘s closest friends is defending the royals as they speak out about the intense scrutiny they’ve faced as a couple.

In a recent interview with The Sunday Times, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby — who conducted Meghan and Harry’s royal wedding last year — responded to recent reports that the couple will take about six weeks off towards the end of the year to spend some valuable “family time” together.

“All members of the royal family are under a pressure that none of us outside it can possibly imagine,” Welby, 63, told the newspaper. “Every personal action is scrutinized. Every statement is over-interpreted, over-read.”

According to the Times, Welby has a “close personal relationship” with the couple.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are going to take a couple of months away from royal duties … If you look at it as a job, they didn’t take the full allowance of leave that you’re entitled to; every person is entitled to,” he said.

Archbishop Justin Welby; Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Jack Taylor/Getty Images; Chris Jackson/Getty Images

“I don’t know why it should be a point of criticism that they take leave to spend time with a new baby in the way that the law provides for every single employee in this country,” Welby shared.

“They’re not superhuman,” Welby added. “They’re a very remarkable group of people, all of them. But you can’t lay that kind of extra burden on people.”

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry with Archbishop Justin Welby at their wedding
REX/Shutterstock

Earlier this month, a royal source confirmed to PEOPLE that Meghan, 38, and Harry, 35, will take time off later this year. The couple and their son Archie will spend the time between the U.K. and the U.S. with the likelihood that they could celebrate Thanksgiving in America.

“The duke and duchess have a full schedule of engagements and commitments until mid-November, after which they will be taking some much-needed family time,” the source said.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
JEREMY SELWYN/POOL/AFP/Getty

Welby’s comments also come after a new documentary that gave a rare glance at the intense scrutiny the couple has faced.

In Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, Meghan spoke about the pressures of being a new mother in the public eye. The couple’s son, baby Archie, was born on May 6.

“Any woman, especially when they’re pregnant, you’re really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging. And then when you have a newborn, you know. And especially as a woman, it’s a lot,” Meghan said.

“So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed. It’s um … yeah. I guess, also thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I’m okay, but it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes,” she continued.

Asked by ITV’s Tom Bradby if it “would be fair” to say that she’s “not really okay, as in it’s really been a struggle?” the mother of one responded, “Yes.”

In the documentary, Harry added: “Look, part of this job and part of any job, like everybody, means putting on a brave face and turning a cheek to a lot of the stuff. But again, for me and for my wife, of course, there’s a lot of stuff that hurts — especially when the majority of it is untrue.”