March 1, 2011 -- To obey or not to obey; that is the question. When Prince William and Kate Middleton ascend the alter next month and vow "to love and to cherish till death us do part," will they follow in the traditional steps of the royal family or instead continue with their theme of a more modern wedding?
The royals are members of the Church of England and Kate must decide if she is going to say the traditional vows written by the church's Anglican Book of Common Prayer, dating back to 1662, or, instead, use a modernized version from the Common Worship book introduced in 2000.
In the traditional vows, the groom promises "to love and cherish till death do us part" and the bride promises to "love, cherish and obey." In the modern vows, however, the word "obey" is excluded:
'I, (bride/groom name), take you, (groom/bride name) to be my wife/husband,
to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part'
Most of the brides in the royal family have used the traditional vows, including Queen Elizabeth in 1947 and Princess Anne in 1973. Princess Diana was the only bride to not say "obey," in 1981. And while she was saying them, she even got caught up in her words and switched around Prince Charles' name to Philip Charles Arthur George instead of Charles Philip Arthur George.
Princess Diana did not set a trend, however, because both Sarah Ferguson, in 1986, and Princess Sophie, in 1999, went back to saying the traditional wedding vows by the church by promising to "obey" their groom.
If Kate wants to throw out both of these options and write her own vows, well, that is out of the question. The Church of England forbids couples from using any vows other than those written by the church.