The Terms and Conditions of a Royal Engagement

25 November 2010

Since the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton was announced on 16 November, the worldwide press has been filled with speculation about the date of the wedding, which designer will create Kate’s dress and, of most interest to family lawyers, whether the couple will enter into a Prenuptial Agreement.

Commentators expect that The Royal Family will encourage the couple to take steps to protect their pre acquired wealth by entering into a Prenuptial Agreement. The press has reported that Kate’s parents are “millionaire entrepreneurs”. In the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List, the Queen’s personal wealth was estimated at £290 million. Prince William is said to have inherited from his mother when he reached the age of 25 and from the Queen Mother following her death in 2002.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Radmacher v Granatino (which upheld a Prenuptial Agreement entered into in Germany), any Prenuptial Agreement entered into by Prince William and Kate Middleton will need to focus on providing a fair outcome in the event of a divorce. Both will have to give proper disclosure of their finances (including any Trusts of which they are beneficiaries) and lawyers negotiating the Prenuptial Agreement on Prince William’s behalf will want to ensure that Kate is signing the document without undue influence or pressure. The overriding consideration will be one of fairness.

What might a Royal Prenup contain? It has been reported that, when Sweden’s Princess Victoria married earlier this year, her Prenuptial Agreement ringfenced all property, inheritance and gifts belonging to the Royal household. Prenuptial Agreements do not necessarily need to deal only with the division of finances in the event of divorce. They can also deal with long term tax and estate planning, and can also determine how the couple hold assets during the marriage.

Whether a Prenuptial Agreement is viewed to be a distasteful request or a simple prerequisite to any marriage, undoubtedly, the debate will continue until the couple marry next April.

For further information about the enforceability of Prenuptial Agreements following the decision in Radmacher v Granatino, please click here to link to our Factsheet.

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