Burke Levy, P.C.

How the British regard royal marriage and divorce

The marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has received a great deal of attention in Massachusetts and around the world. All royal weddings are significant, but the fact that Harry is marrying a women who has been through divorce marks a new approach to how the British monarchy considers issues of love and marriage. A recently published article looks at the historical underpinnings of the issue of remarriage after divorce. 

The topic dates back to the 1530s, when King Henry VIII sought to annul his marriage when his wife could not produce a male heir to the throne. When the Catholic Church refused to comply, Henry severed ties with the Church. That secured Henry as the authority on all things related to religious practice in Britain and allowed him to move through the process of taking on many new wives. 

The British monarchy responded to this abuse of power by creating strict rules about marrying after a divorce. For many years since, the practice was simply not allowed. The 1996 divorce between Prince Charles and Diana and his subsequent marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles marked a change in how the monarchy views these issues. 

As Prince Harry marries an American woman with a previous divorce, it may signal a greater acceptance of divorce and an acknowledgment that remarriage is an acceptable practice. As Massachusetts residents join others around the world to celebrate the latest royal wedding, it's important to recognize the significance of the event. This union further underscores the fact that divorce can be as much about new beginnings as it is about an ending. 

Source: history.com, "Why the Royal Family Used to Forbid Marriage After Divorce", Erin Blakemore, May 3, 2018

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