The Experts: Has Kate signed a royal prenup?
Come Friday, I’ll be watching the royal wedding on television along with everybody else. I’m looking forward to enjoying a glass of wine, checking out what the families are wearing and finally finding out who has created the bride’s wedding dress.
Being a family lawyer, however, I have found that when the Big Day comes up in conversation, people ask me about another “royal wedding secret” – one that is rather less romantic than gowns or tiaras. They want to know if I think Kate has signed a prenuptial agreement.
There has been a lot of speculation about this, particularly on the other side of the Atlantic where prenups are more common and royal wedding fever is running high. Personally I dislike prenups. Marriage is an equal partnership and I believe that it should begin as one.
At the same time the pressures of a royal life lived in the spotlight are well documented. The public divorce of the groom’s parents almost toppled the monarchy. Few would be surprised if sensible royal advisors wanted to minimise the risk, however small, of another public divorce and multi-million payout.
On 20 October 2010, the UK Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited judgment in the leading prenup case, Radmacher v Granatino. The President of the Supreme Court, with an unassailable judicial majority of eight to one, stated that prenups will now be upheld unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary.
The date of that groundbreaking judgment has been overlooked, but I think that it provides a significant clue for those who are intrigued by the possibility of a royal prenup. It was also on 20 October that, far away in Kenya, Prince William finally proposed to Kate and gave her his beloved mother’s iconic engagement ring. Would he have done so unless there was a default agreement in place about its ownership? In law an engagement ring otherwise becomes the absolute property of the recipient. It seems unlikely, so why restrict an agreement only to the ring? The judgment in Radmacher v Granatino means that such an agreement could now be legally “bombproof”.
Ultimately, does it matter if Kate walks down the aisle with a divorce settlement already signed? She strikes me as a tough cookie and has proven staying power. She loves her man, he loves her and I’d like to think that any agreement will be left to gather dust.