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Why doesn't Prince William wear a wedding ring?

The Prince and Princess of Wales, pictured in 2017. (Getty Images)
While the Princess of Wales is rarely seen without her wedding or engagement ring, William has never worn a band. Pictured together in 2017. (Getty Images)

The Princess of Wales's doctored Mother's Day photograph sparked widespread speculation this week after it was pulled by various news agencies for being "manipulated".

Amid a series of apparent inconsistencies in the image, one issue that some royal watchers were quick to point out was that Kate was - unusually - not wearing her wedding ring.

While the Princess of Wales has apologised over the image, Kensington Palace has not addressed the extent of how much the image was amended nor any of the specific claims about which parts were doctored - including whether her left hand had been digitally altered or if Kate had simply chosen not to wear her wedding band that day.

As a result, unfounded rumours and conspiracy theories have flourished on social media - one of the most absurd being by those who have pointed to the fact that Prince William has also been pictured recently without his wedding ring.

However, as any keen royal observer would know, William never wears a wedding ring.

Prince William, pictured at an appearance at WEST yesterday, not wearing a wedding ring. (Getty Images)
Prince William, pictured at an appearance at WEST yesterday, not wearing a wedding ring. (Getty Images)

Though the Princess of Wales is rarely seen without her wedding ring, and/or her sapphire engagement ring, which once belonged to the late Princess Diana, William opted to shun this particular tradition when he and Kate married in 2011.

It turns out the royal's reason for not wearing a band boils down to personal choice. "He doesn’t like jewellery, and the Palace issued a statement before their wedding saying so," Penny Junor, author of The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair that Rocked the Crown, previously told Vogue.

Back in 2018, royal commentator Eloise Parker also shared a theory about why William may have chosen not to wear a wedding ring.

"Although it's traditional for royal women to wear both an engagement ring and a wedding ring after they get married, it's never been traditional for royal men to wear one," she told Marie Claire. "That's why Prince Philip and Prince William don't wear them. I think when you have a wedding watched by millions, everyone knows you're married!"

The Prince and Princess of Wales pictured in 2012. William opts not to wear a ring while Kate is usually wearing hers. (Getty Images)
The Prince and Princess of Wales pictured in 2012. William opts not to wear a ring while Kate is usually wearing hers. (Getty Images)

Male royals opting not to wear a ring

As Parker hinted, William certainly isn't the only royal male to forgo the wearing of a wedding ring, in fact as she alluded, the late Prince Philip also opted to have a ring-free finger.

Despite being married to the late Queen Elizabeth II for more than 70 years he chose not to wear an outward symbol on their union.

During Princess Eugenie's wedding to Jack Brooksbank back in 2018, while the groom wriggled a ring on his bride's finger, he himself didn't receive a ring, reportedly due to "personal preference".

Interestingly, King Charles does wear a wedding band to symbolise his nuptials to Queen Camilla, but instead of wearing it on his ring finger, he stacks his wedding band with a gold signet ring on his left pinky finger that he’s worn since the 70s.

King Charles stacks his wedding band with a signet ring on his pinky finger, pictured in September 2023. (Getty Images)
King Charles stacks his wedding band with a signet ring on his pinky finger, pictured in September 2023. (Getty Images)

As for Prince Harry, he has also opted to wear a wedding ring to reflect his marriage to Meghan Markle.

During the ceremony on May 19, 2018, the wedding programme included a section called "the giving of the rings," where the couple exchanged wedding bands.

The Duke of Sussex is now rarely seen without the platinum wedding band on his ring finger.

Unlike his brother, Prince Harry chooses to wear a wedding band, pictured with wife Meghan in 2018. (Getty Images)
Unlike his brother, Prince Harry chooses to wear a wedding band, pictured with wife Meghan in 2018. (Getty Images)

Is there a royal rule around wearing wedding rings?

According to one expert all royal men reportedly get to choose whether they wear a wedding ring or not.

"There is no royal tradition for men wearing or not wearing a wedding ring," British and European royalty expert Marlene Koenig previously told Town & Country.

Psychologist Barbara Santini says it's important to understand that while there may be certain traditions or expectations surrounding royal weddings, there are no strict rules dictating the wearing of wedding rings.

"In many cases, the decision to wear a wedding ring is a deeply personal one, influenced by factors such as individual beliefs, cultural customs, and personal preferences," she explains.

When it comes to female royals, the tendency to wear wedding rings may be rooted in societal norms and the symbolism attached to marriage.

"For centuries, the exchange of rings has been a cherished tradition symbolising love, commitment and fidelity," she adds. "Female royals, like their non-royal counterparts, often embrace this tradition as a visible symbol of their marital status and devotion to their spouses.

"On the other hand, the choice of male royals to forgo wedding rings may reflect a variety of factors, including personal comfort, practicality, and cultural norms."

In some cultures, Santini says men may be less inclined to wear jewellery as a matter of tradition or masculinity.

"Additionally, the demands of royal duties and public appearances may influence their decision, as wearing jewellery may not always be practical or appropriate."

Of course, some non royal men opt to go ring-free too with research by YouGov revealing that only 63% of married men choose to wear a wedding band, while 91% of women opt for a sparkler symbol on their finger.

Couple wearing wedding rings.
Only 63% of British men opt to wear a wedding ring, according to research. (Getty Images)

The research points out that prior to the Second World War it was unheard of for men to wear wedding rings, but during the conflict it became customary for soldiers serving overseas to wear a wedding band reminding them of home and their commitment to their wives and families.

Santini says the discrepancy between men and women wearing wedding rings can be attributed to a myriad of factors, both societal and individual.

"Historically, wedding rings were primarily worn by women, while men often eschewed such adornments," she explains.

"However, as societal attitudes and gender roles evolve, we see a shift towards greater equality in the wearing of wedding rings among both genders."

Psychologically the decision to wear a wedding ring can hold significant meaning for individuals and couples alike.

"For some, it serves as a tangible symbol of love and commitment, strengthening the bond between partners," Santini explains.

"For others, it may be seen as a personal choice devoid of deeper symbolism, reflecting individual preferences and values."


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