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I didnâ€™t think the wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky would be eclipsed so soon, but here comes the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton. People everywhere are just fascinated by the British royal family. Through our lens here at InterfaithFamily.com, we canâ€™t help but focus on the â€śintermarriageâ€ť aspect of the relationship. No, Kate Middleton isnâ€™t Jewish â€“ now wouldnâ€™t that be an interesting situation! â€“ but she is a â€ścommonerâ€ť and, well, you canâ€™t be much more â€śroyalâ€ť than William, the future King of England.
The Jewish communityâ€™s response to interfaith marriages might take a lesson or two from the British aristrocracyâ€™s response to its own kind of mixed marriage. Their attitudes have certainly adapted over the years towards a welcoming approach. It isnâ€™t all that long ago that King Edward VIII was forced to abdicate in order to marry Wallis Simpson, a commoner (and divorcee to boot). But Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles have publicly expressed their complete delight with Prince Williamâ€™s choice.
The British donâ€™t have any qualms about the status of the children of a royal-commoner marriage: any child of William and Kate will be not merely royal, but, well, the heir to the throne. That goes further than the Reform movementâ€™s approach, where a child of an interfaith marriage is at least presumptively potentially Jewish if raised Jewish.
The British also make it easy for someone marrying in to acquire royal status. Iâ€™m no expert on this. Iâ€™m not sure if by reason of the marriage, Kate becomes a Duchess or a Princess, or that happens by the Queen just conferring that status on her. Either way, she becomes part of the royal family. It would be nice if the Jewish community considered our partners who arenâ€™t Jewish part of the family in the same easy way.
The press has focused on how solicitous William has been of Kate. After all, heâ€™s lived his entire life with what Iâ€™m sure are peculiar or at least particular â€śritualsâ€ť of the royal family, and sheâ€™ll have to get used to all of that. William reportedly promised her father that he would help her to adjust. Wouldnâ€™t it be great if the Jewish partners in interfaith couples took the same kind of approach with respect to sharing Jewish traditions with their partners?
Here at InterfaithFamily.com weâ€™re positive about the potential for couples from different backgrounds to build fulfilling lives together and to decide to affiliate their family with the tradition of one partner while honoring and respecting the tradition of the other. Weâ€™re happy to see that at least at the outset, it looks like Prince William and Kate Middleton have a good chance of doing just that. So weâ€™ll send them an early mazel tov!
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