The fact that Queen Elizabeth II gave her formal consent for Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton next week might not be as exciting as gossip about the bride's wedding gown or the royal wedding menu. But it's actually way more important.
According to the Royal Marriages Act of 1772, all descendants of King George II must obtain the monarch's approval before they wed. That the queen consented to her grandson's marriage doesn't seem quite so surprising especially considering that we've been obsessing over this wedding for months. But another family member wasn't quite so lucky ...
Back in 1955, Queen Elizabeth II refused to allow her younger sister Margaret to marry the Group Captain Peter Townsend. Despite the fact that it was well-known that Townsend was the love of Margaret's life, he was divorced and, therefore, their marriage "would fly in the face of Royal and Christian tradition." As Christopher Hitchens so eloquently noted this week in Slate:
... [Margaret] later married and divorced a man she did not love and then had years to waste as the model of the bone-idle, cigarette-holdered, gin-sipping socialite, surrounded with third-rate gossips and charmers and as unhappy as the day was long.
William should be thanking his lucky stars he was able to escape such a miserable fate!
So, how does a British monarch actually go about giving her formal blessing? (Because I'm guessing it's a little more elaborate than the American tradition of the groom asking the bride's father for permission to propose.) According to People, the true authority on such matters, it involves a "lavish document" and "transcribed calligraphy" consenting 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.
The document will be given to the couple after the wedding -- provided there actually is a wedding and the queen doesn't change her mind.
Image via humberpike/Flickr