Prince William

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William & Kate's Royal Wedding

Will there be a prenup between Prince William and Kate Middleton? If I were a prince I would want one!
—Princess Watcher, via the inbox

Until this particular wedding ballyhoo, no one at any of the queen's estates and palaces ever thought to require a prenup, not even Prince Charles, who got married in the relatively recent year of 1981. But what about Prince William? Well...

For the record, the family isn't saying whether Kate will have to sign a document limiting her rights to the prince's wealth. This is a family that is fiercely protective of its image. Acknowledging a prenup would likely be seen by these bluestockings as beyond gauche.

But top divorce attorneys tell me, don't be shocked if Kate and Will have quietly gone about crafting a legal understanding.

Why? Well, for one, because they can.

"Interestingly, until very recently, there was no statutory authority for premarital agreements in Britain," says Norman S. Heller, partner and group leader for the matrimonial practice at the law firm Blank Rome.

In other words, for most of its history, Britain didn't legally recognize prenups. Such agreements couldn't be enforced by the courts over there until this past October. (It should be noted that, until a few hundred years ago, British royals didn't really have to take their spouses to divorce court. They could just hold a kangaroo trial and then execute them.)

"So," Heller concludes, "the question becomes, ‘Why shouldn't they have a prenup?'"

Good question, especially given the very ugly, very public divorce that William's parents endured in the 1990s, allowing Diana to walk away with a reported $28 million.

And given exactly how wealthy William is, divorce attorneys say, he would be doolally not to want some sort of legal protection.

When he came of age, William came into about $10 million in an inheritance left by his late mother, Diana. But as a married man, he may receive even more, such as titles, and the lands that may go with them. Prince Charles's very own duchy, Cornwall, yields about $27 million a year. (He pays about 40 percent in income tax, if you must know.) And the queen has her own duchy, Lancaster.

In total, the queen herself is thought to be worth roughly $450 million—not exactly the billionaire status of a Bill Gates, but still quite well off, and a good indication of the kind of wealth William himself may see one day.

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