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Prince William may be royalty and all, but if he orders his wife to bring him the newspaper, whip up a fancy meal or iron his shirts, she can simply ignore him if she chooses. That's because Kate Middleton has decided to eliminate the word "obey" from her wedding vows next week and instead will simply promise to "love, comfort, honor and keep" her husband.
The couple is said to have ditched "obey" because after knowing each other for a decade, they treat each other as equals, according to The Daily Mail newspaper in London.
In omitting the word, Middleton will follow in the footsteps of the prince's mother, Princess Diana, who disregarded royal protocol and refused to utter the word when she married Prince Charles in 1981. Others, however, took the traditional route and kept in the word when they married other sons of Queen Elizabeth II. Sarah Ferguson did, when she married Prince Andrew in 1986, as did Sophie Rhys-Jones, when she wed Prince Edward in 1999. The Queen herself, as well as her daughter, Princess Anne, also vowed to obey their husbands when they married, as both used the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which requires women to promise to "love, cherish and obey," according to the Mail.
The prince and princess-to-be will be married at Westminster Abbey on April 29 in an Anglican ceremony presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who has supported a Church of England report saying 'obey' is outdated.
His position is not universally accepted, however, as the Bishop of Norwich, who conducted Prince Edward's wedding, says, "It is a mistaken assumption that when a bride says she will obey it means she is going to be subservient. It is to do with trust, and with listening, and to recognize that in a family you have different functions."
He went on to say that, "There are times when the husband will rightly obey the wife because she knows better and is the lead in that area … I think obey means, 'I trust you to make decisions that are for the good of the family.' It’s no big deal."
Still, "obey" traditionally is not among the groom's vows, and that disparity is what can cause many a bride not to say it.
"I suppose if Pat had to say it too -- if we had to obey each other, that might make sense," my friend Kristy says of her wedding day. But since he didn't, she didn't either. "In these times, it sure doesn't make sense," she says. "Women have as many responsibilities as men do."
Middleton must agree. But looks like she's still on the hook for bringing him soup when he's sick; after all, she is vowing to comfort him.