Prince William gets consent to marry from Queen Elizabeth

Clive Gee / AP

A detail from the 'Instrument of Consent', which is the Britain's Queen Elizabeth II's historic formal consent to Prince William's forthcoming marriage to Kate Middleton.

Talk about old-fashioned.

Forget asking the father of the bride for consent – Prince William had to get permission from his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.

The queen's formal consent to Prince William's marriage to fiancee Kate Middleton was unveiled today, consenting to the union of "Our Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, K.G. and Our Trusty and Well-beloved Catherine Elizabeth Middleton." On the bottom of the royal document, the queen signed her approval and added the Great Seal of the Realm in red wax.


The elaborate "Instrument of Consent" features Will and Kate's entwined initials, monarchy-inspired artwork and symbols honoring the couple, including a white lily representing St. Catherine of Siena and a "Welsh leek surrounded by William's white three-pronged second in line to the throne label and a tiny red escallop from the Spencer family Arms," according to the U.K. Mirror.

Why would the prince need to check with the queen? The tradition dates back to a law from the 18th century – the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 – which decreed that "all descendants of George II must obtain the sovereign's agreement before they wed, otherwise the marriage is invalid." King George III (George II's grandson) ordered the law when his younger brother, Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland, secretly married a commoner. Today, royals are free to marry commoners and it's unlikely the queen would protest a marriage.

Following the royal wedding, the document will be sent to Will and Kate for them to keep. It will be a nice reminder of the royal family's strong ties and somewhat amusing historic traditions.

Clive Gee / AP

The 'Instrument of Consent', which is the Britain's Queen Elizabeth II's historic formal consent to Prince William's forthcoming marriage to Kate Middleton, is seen at the Crown Office at the House of Lords in London, Wednesday April 20, 2011.

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