Kate Middleton: To Obey or Succeed?

Amidst the frenzy surrounding the upcoming Royal Wedding and what Kate will wear, Salon.com addresses a more important point: What will Middleton say?

When Kate Middleton walks down the aisle to wed Prince William on April 29, spectators around the world will be hanging on her every word. And the one they’ll be listening for in particular isn’t “love” or “cherish.” It’s “obey” … in 1981, William’s mother Diana dropped it from her vows to Prince Charles. But five years later, Sarah Ferguson slipped the word back into her wedding vows to Prince Andrew. And in 1999, Sophie Rhys-Jones did likewise when she tied the knot to Prince Edward.

According to Salon, the Palace is remaining mum about whether Kate will “obey” or not, along with most other details of the wedding. Archbishop Rowan Williams (who will marry the couple) and his Archbishops’ Council issued a report back in 2006 that labeled the word as outdated.

However, I would not be surprised if Kate did opt to keep the word in her vows. After all, for Kate it has been one sacrifice or compromise after the other, from abandoning the notion of a career to putting a stop to her photography exhibition. Middleton seems only too willing to prove to Queen Elizabeth that she is no Diana.

What I am more interested in than William and Kate changing language in their vows is whether or not they work to change a 300-year-old tradition giving preference to sons over daughters for royal succession.

In January of this year, Keith Vaz, Labour Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, introduced legislation which would “remove any distinction between the sexes in determining the succession to the Crown.” Vaz stated that, “Britain is an egalitarian country and this should be reflected in our succession rules.” An endorsement from any of the royals could give the law a real chance of passing.

With the law as it currently stands, if Kate and William have a daughter, she will immediately be passed over for the throne if they subsequently have a son.

Forget about who Kate swears to “obey” or not. If there is anything this couple must use their clout to change right away, it is legislation that denies women access to power simply because of their gender. That is seriously outdated.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons through Creative Commons.



Anushay Hossain began her feminist career as an intern at the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) where she worked on microfinance for women and girls in her native country, Bangladesh. A University of Virginia graduate, Anushay joined the Feminist Majority Foundation's Nobel Peace Prize nominated Campaign for Afghan Women before completing her MA in Gender and Development at the University of Sussex. She spent a year at the United Nations Development Fund for Women's (UNIFEM UK) London office before returning to Washington, DC where she invests the majority of her work analyzing the impact of US foreign policy on the health and rights of women and girls around the world.