During Princess Eugenie’s wedding on Friday (October 12), eagle-eyed royal watchers noticed that after her now-husband Jack Brookshank awkwardly struggled to get the wedding band on her finger, Eugenie didn’t slip a ring on his. Cue us, the puzzled Americans: What gives?
As it turns out, it’s because he simply has chosen not to wear one. But it’s not just the spouses of minor royals (Princess Eugenie is ninth in line to the throne) that don’t have to: Apparently all royal men get to choose whether they wear one or not. “There is no royal tradition for men wearing or not wearing a wedding ring,” British and European royalty expert Marlene Koenig told Town & Country.
And, if you have to ask: “I am unaware of any royal woman not wearing a wedding ring,” Koenig told Glamour.com on Saturday.
If you look closely, it turns out that Prince William, who is second in line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles, also doesn’t wear a ring. Reportedly, he’s not a fan of jewelry. As a royal spokesperson told People before his nuptials to Kate Middleton in 2011, “There is only going to be one ring, in accordance with the couple’s wishes.”
Perhaps Brookshank is following in the footsteps of his now-father-in-law Prince Andrew, who opted out of a ring as well while he was married to Princess Eugenie’s mother, Sarah Ferguson, from 1986 to 1996.
The patriarch of the royal family, Prince Philip, has also never worn a ring on his finger—and he and Queen Elizabeth II have been married for more than 70 years. Apparently there are some things, like love and royal tradition, that are stronger than platinum.
Prince Charles, husband to Camilla, does wear a wedding band, but instead of wearing it on his ring finger, he stacks his wedding band with a giant gold signet ring on his left pinky finger that he’s been sporting since the ‘70s.
But it’s a little different with Prince Harry, who some see as a more modern royal. When he and Meghan Markle married on May 19, the wedding program included a section called “the giving of the rings,” where Meghan and Harry exchanged wedding bands, with a plural. Now Harry proudly wears a platinum wedding band on his ring finger (a definite upgrade from the matching beaded bracelets he and Markle wore early on in their relationship).
Apparently, it’s not just royal men who opt out of this piece of symbolic jewelry, either: Koenig told Town & Country that men wearing wedding bands is a fairly new thing, and a lot of posh aristocrats still don’t (former Prime Minister David Cameron doesn’t either, she said).
The times change, but royal tradition changes slower.