UK:It is official. The Royal family announced today that Prince William and Kate Middleton are engaged and will get married in 2011 in Spring or Summer. HRH proposed to Miss Middleton, his live in girlfriend, with his late mother Princess Diana’s sapphire engagement ring.
But could that be bad luck?
While it is incredibly warm and thoughtful of William Windsor to propose to his long time girlfriend Kate Middleton with his late mother’s engagement ring, it does set off bells in the head because his mother and father did not have a happy marriage and it ended in divorce, and then she was tragically killed. Would it not have been more auspicious for William to get Kate a fresh, brand new ring? One has to wonder. And what happens if the marriage, for some sad reason, fails? Does she keep the ring? Or did she sign to say that she returns it? Because usually the girl keeps the ring if the marriage goes through, even if a divorce ensues, (in London I think she keeps it even if it doesn’t go through, unlike in some jurisdictions here in the U.S. where she must return it if the marriage does not go through.) But given the backstory with this ring and the unique set of circumstances, one has to wonder whether contractually, Kate is obliged to return the ring to William, if at any time the marriage should crack up.
Is there a prenup?
Did William and Kate sign a prenuptial agreement? One has to hope so, given the marital histories of many in the contemporary royal family. William’s own parents (and maybe even Kate’s) divorced after an acrimonious marriage. Williams uncle Prince Andrew and his bride Fergie also likewise did not make it till death did them part. As have many others in the extended royal family. It would be inconceivable in this modern age if William and Kate did not sign an air tight prenup. However, Kate ought to get good counsel on this.When the Duchess of York divorced Andrew back in the 80’s or 90’s, she received very little by way of spousal support. So little in fact, that she was forced to try to make money by selling air time with Andrew. The sting operation was one of the most embarrassing episodes in the history of the Windsors. Not to mention the fact that Sarah Ferguson is so broke she is contemplating bankruptcy. So it’s one thing to snag the heir to the throne. And of course, expect to sign a prenup. But it should not be unconscionable, and it should not be one-sided, and Kate needs legal counsel to make sure what happened to Fergie does not happen to her.
Kate needs to get a solicitor on her side who can see to it that the agreement is fair on its face, and not so lopsided as to “shock the conscience” as Fergie’s did. It’s one thing to say that the British courts have historically scoffed at prenups. But we saw what happened in the Radmacher (is it?) case and so that is changing. So it’s not like Kate will be able to mount a successful challenge if later on, in the event of a divorce, she decides she is entitled to more.
In any event, congratulations to William and Kate. This sounds like an exciting event in their lives. We wish them the best of luck with this. And we hope and pray the wedding is not a Westminister Abbey, since that is also where his mother’s funeral was held. In which case, Kate may as well were a black gown as it would be altogether too macabre for words.