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I WILL OBEY EDWARD; Surprise as Sophie chooses old-fashioned marriage vows.

ROYAL bride-to-be Sophie Rhys-Jones will promise to obey Prince Edward as part of her marriage vows.

Her decision to make the pledge was revealed by the Bishop of Norwich who is to conduct the wedding service.

The disclosure that high-powered career woman Sophie, 34, has chosen to "obey" stunned royal watchers.

They expected her to drop the word from her vows, as Diana did when she wed Prince Charles in 1981.

The Right Rev Peter Nott, 65, explained why Sophie, who runs a PR business, chose the traditional wording.

"It is a mistaken assumption that when a bride says she will obey it means she is going to be subservient," he said.

"It is to do with trust, and with listening, and to recognise that in a family you have different functions.

"There are times when the husband will rightly obey the wife because she knows better and is the lead in that area.

"The partnership is equal and leadership in a good marriage always shifts. I think 'obey' means, 'I trust you ultimately to make decisions that are for the good of the family'. It's no big deal."

Mr Nott, who likes to be known as Bishop Peter, says he has treated Sophie and Edward, 35, like any other couple by giving them lengthy lessons to prepare them for married life.

"I think preparation for marriage is enormously important," he said.

He would not say who will be best man for the June 19 wedding. But he hinted Charles and Andrew will share the job.

The bishop was chosen to conduct the wedding at St George's Chapel, Windsor, instead of the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey,because of his long friendship with Edward. He has known the prince since 1985. He first met Sophie five years ago at a Sandringham house party. "I remember saying to my wife, Betty, that I'd met Edward's girlfriend and that she was such a delightful person," he said. He first discussed marriage plans with the couple in January when they made a a private visit to Norwich Cathedral.

"We chatted about the wedding, but at that stage, I never dreamt I'd be involved," he said.

"A couple of days later, Edward phoned and said, 'Would you be free to marry us?' Of course, I said yes, but I was quite taken aback."

But he did tell them they would have to attend wedding preparation sessions. So far, there have been four sessions, each lasting up to three hours.

"They have given masses of time to it, which for me is a joy," said the bishop.

"In the last few months, I have seen a lot of them. They are alike in many respects.

"They are lovely people, with a great sense of warmth, kindness, humanity and humour."

The bishop will travel to Windsor next week on Thursday, for wedding rehearsals. As for the big day, he said: "I will be doing nothing different from what I have done at hundreds of other weddings.

"I shall go and meet the bride and spend a moment or two calming her down.

"But she may not need it. It may be that she will be calming me down."

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "We cannot comment on any interview given by an individual."
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Author:McGURRAN, AIDAN
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 9, 1999
Words:547
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