The Legal Angle to the Big Fat Royal Wedding

This Quebec-born boy still has trouble fathoming why so many people are going gaga over the English Royal Wedding. Don’t we all have hockey playoffs to think about? And isn’t there that little thing to do with the federal elections and Jack’s unexpected Big Orange Wave?

Never mind.

To help us out, the Harvard Law School Library has published a post on Royal Wedding: Pomp, Circumstance, and Law to explain all the legalities about how people in the British royal family get hitched.

Apparently, it is a lot more complicated than simply showing up at city hall, calling a florist and worrying about your mom crying during the ceremony:

The carriages are polished, the cakes baked, and the trees are in the Abbey (really!)…if you plan to celebrate your Anglo-American legal heritage by putting on your tiara at 4am tomorrow morning, it may be of interest that Prince William and Catherine Middleton have more legal requirements involved in their getting hitched than the average British couple.


  1. And if Ms. Middleton were, say, Jewish? And wasn’t prepared to convert?

  2. In that case, David, we might be looking at a King Henry IX sooner than we had been thinking.

  3. Well … as I read the Act of Settlement, since KM can’t ever become Queen, then she doesn’t have to be Protestant.

    And there’s nothing in there that says the King shall marry only a Protestant.

    As I recall it, England still officially banned Jews from being on the soil of the island in the early 1700s, so there’d be none of use there offically.

    So if Kate turns out to be Wiccan, or Ba’hai, or Jane …

    I’m Henry the 9th I am? Doesn’t work. Sorry.


  4. I believe that Ms Middleton was received into the Church of England earlier this year.

    The statutory ban applies only to Roman Catholics, but the statutory requirement of consent of the current monarch could come in the way of someone who the monarch thought should not be married to the Head of the Church of England. So there might have been a problem if she had been Jewish, or some of the alternatives mentioned. But it’s a question of Royal prerogative, at least. Chat up your potential mother-in-law satisfactorily and take the throne!

    I believe that the Duchess of Cambridge will become Queen when the Duke becomes King. Given the longevity of the clan, I may not see the day – not that it’s a day to die for.

  5. Yeah, having a mother-in-law with that sort of pull could have advantages (g).

    You probably know the apocryphal story of the Oxford don who had a dog when only cats were allowed in his quarters (or it might have been the other way around). Oxford passed a specific law that declared his beast to be the other. Those who have the power …

    Still, you may be right about the Queen part. Prince Philip isn’t King, but now that I write that, I think I remember he declined the title. I could look it up, but.