Post by Elaine Gallant
I want to know the rules for suitable royal marriage in the British Royal Family.
You mean, the official ones plus the others?
And no, the Royal Marriages Act does not provide even the official
rules in full. There are many other laws relevant to royal marriages,
and I do not know all of them.
First, have a look at RMA. A royal marriage must be
approved by Crown-in-Council
announced to Crown-in-Council by a royal over 25 years of age 12
months in advance.
Now, there can be any number of unofficial requirements.
Crown-in-Council can withhold approval for any reason whatever or for
no reason at all. Nor is any public record created of refusals, only
of approvals and announcements of intent to marry without approval.
This also means that one cannot deduce the unofficial requirements by
examining the list of refusals of approval, because there is no list.
Continuing with official requirements...
The Act of Settlement provides that any person who marries a Papist
loses inheritance rights to the throne. This only applies if the
marriage is approved of by the Crown-in-Council or else duly announced
to the same. A marriage not celebrated under RMA, even to a Papist,
has no effect on inheritance rights, which is precisely what happened
to George IV. A marriage to a follower of any other faith, even if
duly approved or announced and valid under other requirements, has no
effect on inheritance rights of the royal either.
Now, since Lord Hardwicke's Act, there is a custom that the laws
regarding marriage make exception to royal marriages. Someone should
provide full list of those laws, and what exactly they say about
One important effect is that no royal can marry in register office in
England, apparently because laws allowing this were passed after 1751
and make exceptions for royals.
If a royal is to marry in England and in the Establishment, it means
that any and all requirements, official or unofficial, of the Church
of England apply. Such as those relating to remarriage of divorcees.
It is perfectly legal for royals to marry outside England, provided
that there is assent or announcement as required and that all official
local rules are complied with. For example, the Church of Scotland
permits remarriage of divorcees, and Princess Anne married there, with
assent of Crown as required.
Someone should clarify:
can a royal marry, with assent, in a church in England other than the
how can a royal marry in Ireland or Wales?
A royal can definitely marry abroad, provided the local requirements
of marriage are met AND that the Crown-in-Council of United Kingdom
gives approval or receives notice in due time. It is established that
the restrictions of RMA follow all royals wherever they may go. Should
a royal marry otherwise than allowed by RMA, all courts of UK and of
all realms and other jurisdictions where RMA holds are obliged to
regard the marriage as null and void for any and all purposes that
come before them, such as intestate inheritance to bank accounts and
shares, alimony, custody of minors etc. etc.
Also, while it is perfectly legal for a royal to marry otherwise than
according to RMA and it is also legal to marry a royal otherwise than
under RMA, to celebrate or assist the celebration of such marriage is
a crime. Note that all male-line descendants of George II are subject
to RMA forever. There is a fair number of such persons, for example in
Germany, who are aliens and owe no allegiance to UK. Should any of
them ever fail to comply with the requirements of RMA, those assisting
them, e. g. clerks who are under legal duty to celebrate all marriages
consistent with laws of Germany, become criminals and incur the
penalties of praemunire (IIRC life imprisonment) should they ever fall
in hands of the Britons (e. g. be caught attempting to visit UK or be
apprehended by UK forces abroad).
Then there are the questions of age, kinship and consent.
The common-law definition of marriageable age has changed since 1753.
It used to be something like 12 or 13 years. Someone should check
whether the laws that have altered it since 1751 apply to royals. If
not, a royal who is 25 can announce his or her intention to marry a
person who is currently 11 years old, and lawfully celebrate and
consummate the marriage 12 months later, by which time that person
would be 12.
Kinship. Royal marriages are subject to the common-law restrictions of
consanguinity. There have been changes to this - exempli gratia
permitting marriage to deceased wife's sisters. Which changes apply to
royals, which do not?
Consent. Again, there might be differences.
If a royal marries a person under 21, or between 16 and 18, is the
consent of the parents of the nonroyal spouse required?
Now, the business of bigamy.
A royal marriage celebrated in violation of RMA is null and void for
absolutely all purposes - including bigamy. This means that a royal
can marry in violation of RMA and proceed to celebrate another
marriage under RMA in lifetime of the previous "spouse" and without
any divorce or annulment. Which is exactly what George IV did.
On the other hand, a royal cannot marry a person who is already
validly married - not even under RMA.
As has been mentioned above, citizenship, or being noble or royal in
background is not officially required in UK - though they may well be
unofficial considerations in granting or refusing approval.
Nor is virginity as such an official requirement - not even for the
bride of the Prince of Wales, or King.
But "chastity" is officially required. One needs to get to full text
of the Bill of Attainder against Queen Catherine Howard, plus all
later ctatutes which may touch the matter.
This Bill of Attainder is the law of the land in UK and elsewhere
where English statutes hold. (As it talks of treason, under the Act of
Union it holds in Scotland, too.) And apart from dealing with the fate
of Catherine personally, for avoidance of doubt in future the Bill
enacted generally applicable laws of treason.
It is high treason for any unchaste woman to marry a King unless she
has made full disclosure to the King prior to celebration of marriage.
It also is high treason for any person owing allegiance to the
Sovereign to fail to disclose anything incontinent that he or she
might know about the queen.
This law is vitally important to a number of posters in
alt.talk.royalty and alt.gossip.royalty. The Queen is 78. May it take
long, but we must take account of the possibility that there may be a
King soon. And the now Prince of Wales is not married. The prospect of
another King marrying an unchaste woman is by no means remote.
Mrs. Parker-Bowles is not supposed to be a virgin - indeed, she is a
mother. But neither was lady Latimer supposed to be a virgin. Mrs.
Parker-Bowles is also known to be unchaste - she is believed to have
committed both adultery and fornication with the Prince of Wales.
Well, participation of the King personally probably counts as
disclosure. After all, Henry VIII is believed (not definitely known!)
to have committed adultery or fornication with Anne Boleyn.
But should anyone owing allegiance to UK know anything hinting that
Camilla may have committed adultery with any person other than
Charles, or committed fornication with any person other than Charles
(including fornication with mr. Parker-Bowles!), it would be high
treason to fail to disclose the fact in a proper manner. Thus some
posters may risk the fate of Dereham and Culpepper! (I don't owe
allegiance to UK).
Also someone should check about the bride of the Prince of Wales. In
1542, Edward was 4. But considering the suitable royal brides, I
think, had started, nor did Henry yet know Edward would acceed at the
age of 9. Does the Bill of Attainder make any provision for the case
of a previously unchaste woman marrying the eldest son and heir of the
But would the King (or Prince of Wales?) be lawfully married to the
unchaste woman? Was Henry married to Catherine Howard? Afterwards, he
seems to have regarded only Jane and Catherine Parr as his lawful
wives. Catherine of Aragon was annulled for clear reason. Anne Boleyn
was annulled for reasons that are still secret. Anne of Cleves was
annulled. But what about Catherine Howard?
So, if a previously unchaste woman marries a king and the shit hits
the fan, she is relieved of one neck. But the facts of having been
unchaste and not having made proper disclosure of this exist at the
time of celebration. Has she married (and her orphaned children
inherit the Crown as usual, whoever has begot them) or has she not
(and her children, if delivered before execution, are bastards for all
purposes even if they are unquestionably begotten by the King)?
Catherine Howard had no children, so the question of legitimacy of
children did not come up.
Can anyone clarify the official rules further or add to them?