Tuesday, April 05, 2011

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A Prenup for the Royal Wedding?


We know that Prince William is the first to marry a "commoner" in a pretty long time -- which has more than a few legal experts already speculating about whether Kate will be asked to sign a pre-nuptial agreement before her big walk down the aisle.

Surprisingly, while prenups are fairly common among the rich and famous in the states, they've only recently started to be recognized by courts in the UK, reports the Huffington Post.

"It's an absolute statistical no-brainer that a prenuptial agreement would be highly beneficial in this case," divorce lawyer James Stewart from the firm Manches (which handled the split between Madonna and Guy Ritchie) explains. And considering that the royal family doesn't exactly have a great track record when it comes to marriages -- three of Queen Elizabeth's four children have been divorced -- it might be a good idea if William takes a very practical approach to the situation. The Prince's office has declined to comment on whether there will be a prenup, but speculation still abounds.

"In the 21st century, there is a real need for any couple in the public arena to enter into a properly drawn up prenup," Stewart tells the Huffington Post. When Diana divorced Charles, she reportedly "took him to the cleaners," Geoffrey Bignell, the prince's former financial adviser, told Britain's Sunday Telegraph in 2004. Diana supposedly got more than 17 million pounds ($27 million today) from Charles after their marriage ended in 1996.

So what could that potential prenup involve? According to a recent Sunday Times article, Prince William stands to inherit about 290 million pounds ($467 million) from the Queen. Due to Diana's early death, William also gets a share of Diana's near $34 million estate, and it's also believed that a good deal of his fortune is still tied up in trusts, reports 10News.com. Since Kate comes from a well-to-do family, it would be assumed that the prenup would also make sure she could keep up the style of living she had become accustomed to.

Even if the two did end in divorce, though, it's unlikely that we would ever hear anything about it. "Every other employee of the royal household has a contract of employment which includes a fairly severe gagging clause," says Stewart. Kate would be no exception.

Royal prenups, while not totally common, aren't completely unheard of these days. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden reportedly signed a prenup when she married her personal trainer Daniel Westling, which entitled him to half of the couple's private household -- not Victoria's inheritance or her income.

Still, other legal experts say that this isn't some "whirlwind romance," and therefore chances of a divorce are far less.

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