Despite marrying into royalty, Meghan Markle has proved that she likes to play by her own rules, especially when it comes to wedding traditions. The British monarchy has its fair share of age-old customs (like not wearing a tiara until after you're married), but this rebellious bride-to-be has her own modern wedding-day agenda. For starters, Markle will break royal protocol (and go down in history) by being the first royal bride to give a speech at her wedding. Rumors have also circulated that she wants her mom to walk her down the aisle on her big day. So, given her track record of advocating for women's empowerment, it brings up the question of whether she'll follow in the footsteps of her female royal predecessors and choose to omit "obey" from her wedding vows.
Princess Diana started this trend during her 1981 wedding to Prince Charles, leaving out the word "obey" and instead promising to "love, honor, comfort, and keep" her husband. Kate Middleton followed suit in 2011 as she said "I do" to Prince William, copying Diana's more progressive vows. The original vows from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Anne used at their weddings, read, "love, cherish, and obey," according to the Daily Mail.
"In this day and age, it seems a little archaic for any bride to promise to 'obey' her husband, royal or not," Victoria Arbiter, royal expert, explained to Town & Country. She added, "Given the level of equality so clearly on display between Harry and Meghan, it's highly likely that she too will choose to forgo the custom. Meghan has been very vocal in her push for gender equality, and this will be one more area in which her personal choices will have the full support of her husband-to-be."
Although the People's Princess was the first one to part with these slightly sexist vows, not all royal brides have chosen to do the same. Sophie Rhys-Jones, who married Prince Edward in 1999, kept the "obey" piece of her wedding vows. Princess Eugenie's mother, Sarah Ferguson, also vowed to obey Prince Andrew during their 1986 nuptials.
And, speaking of Princess Eugenie, this royal will also say "I do" this year, just a few months after Harry and Markle tie the knot. Will Eugenie take her mother's route and obey her soon-to-be-husband, Jack Brooksbank, or will she take a more progressive approach to her vows? Only time will tell, but it seems highly likely, considering Kate Middleton generated a 21st-century resurgence of this movement at her own wedding. And, in the era of Time's Up and #MeToo, omitting "obey" is all the more important for both royal brides.
Whether Markle (and later Eugenie) chooses to say "obey" or not, she's set to marry Prince Harry May 19 at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. and Rt Hon. Justin Welby, will wed the lovebirds.