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Kate Middleton will have a wedding ring, Prince William won't, but does it matter?

Most married men do wear wedding rings but some still prefer to leave the third finger of their left hand bare. Here, starting with Carlo Gebler four writers debate a tricky subject.

The second in line to the throne is getting hitched. Nice man, William, I think, and Kate's a nice girl too (though why is she so thin?).

He, however, has given notice of something slightly odd in advance of the ceremony. After the event she will have a wedding ring of incredible value (over which her friends - the female ones I mean - will be able to ooh and aah) because she'll be wearing it.

But he, even though he'll have a ring (I think at any rate he will, I did have this detail written down but I've lost it) he will not be sporting his band in public after the event. He has said this.

I took the same line myself once upon a time but then I changed my mind and just in case he's interested I've committed my story to words.

Before my wedding I told the future Mrs Gébler I wouldn't wear a ring. I can't remember my excuse but I imagine I probably said something about not liking to feel anything tight around my fingers. Of course how would I know this? I'd never worn a ring.

Then we married. There were children. It occurred to me that yes, actually it would be a good thing if I did have a ring and wear it: it would be a sign of fidelity, a sign of commitment, a gesture that would say, 'Thank you dear for having the kids, and putting up with me, et cetera'.

So I bought myself one - a nice plain gold one, and quite stylish I thought. It cost £25. I took it home. Mrs Gébler said little but I couldn't help noticing the little creases on each side of her mouth. Oh yes, I thought, for once I'd done the right thing.

And then the years rolled on or by or whatever it is the years do and, as they did, I expanded. My ring finger got fatter too. Eventually, and this was now 15 years after I'd bought it, copious amounts of Fairy Liquid were required to get it on and off.

It was time to take action. I decided to join Weight Watchers. The local Enniskillen branch met in the sports centre. I went, I paid (like psychoanalysis, Weight Watchers works on the principle that unless you pay you'll never get better) and I had myself weighed.

I was some stones (I decline to say how many) overweight. The nice Weight Watchers lady gave me glossy books. I agreed on my programme (points rather than core, that was easier I was told) and home I went to begin. Months of self-denial followed: I can't say I liked it but the Weight Watchers people were right. You did lose weight when you paid. But here's the thing, which they didn't tell me.

I had gone because I wanted the weight to go from places like my stomach. But as I shrank the places I lost weight most easily were places I wasn't so bothered about, like my feet and my hands.

And the deleterious consequence of this, of course, was my fat ring finger became a thin ring finger and one afternoon, swimming at Rossnowlagh, the ring slipped off in the sea.

I found it but Mrs Gébler said it was too risky to wear until I had got it made smaller. She put it in a drawer. That was two years ago. It's still there. Why?

Well, though I haven't maintained my svelte Weight Watcher-weight I haven't reverted to my former portly overweight self either. It still might slip off. Or not. I don't know. So what to do? Do I commit myself to a lifetime of dieting, and shrink my ring to fit my new slim finger? Or do I bulk up and keep it as it is? I can't decide, so though I'm now temperamentally committed to wearing my ring I'm temporarily without it, a state I fear that'll last years.

And what does all this mean for our future monarch? Actually, when I started I thought my moral was, wear it and please her indoors.

But now I've got to the end I've come round to thinking he's right. Our bodies yo-yo up and down so much it really is much simpler not to wear one in the first place: then you won't lose it or have to take it to the jewellers to get it re-sized.

Yes, sir, forget everything I've said above: You've made the right decision.



A ring on his finger will not guarantee enduring love

BY UNA BRADLEY

My late father never wore a wedding ring, but he had an excuse. He got married in 1957 when real men didn't wear jewellery. The tide turned soon after, and all my younger uncles proudly sported gold bands and, into the 1970s, even necklaces, bracelets and - eek! - the odd signet ring.

But dad was not for moving with fashions. He remained a string vest, shirt and tie kind of man, even as his sons were experimenting with long hair, Wrangler jackets and crucifixes at the neck.

Although he was very particular about personal grooming and was always well-presented with a close shave and the knock-you-over scent of Old Spice, jewellery was a step too far for dad, who looked like something out of Mad Men, well into my childhood in the 1980s.

The irony was he had beautiful hands, as my mother often pointed out. A simple gold band would have drawn attention to those artistic, but still very masculine, fingers.

Until I heard about Prince William declining to wear a wedding ring, I thought every man post-1960 did.

Well, maybe not Ashley Cole on a lads night out, but you know what I mean. I know no married man who doesn't wear the traditional token on his third finger.

Sure, the particulars may have changed over the years from fat gold knuckle-dusters - the kind you imagine Magnum wearing - to more elegant hoops in silver and white-gold, but I thought the general trend remained.

That's not to say the fashion may have changed again. My friends and I are old hat compared to Prince William and Kate Middleton. Lots of men in their 20s may now be eschewing jewellery, but the last time I looked - I am thinking of my young brother-in-law - they hadn't got rid of the eyebrow rings and love beads, let alone embarked on a boycott of all that glitters.

My own husband was only too happy to join me shopping for our wedding bling a few years ago. Granted, after an hour trying on dozens of rings - which no doubt all looked the same to him - he would have settled for something out of a Barmbrack if it meant we could then go for lunch and a few beers. Of course, the rings I fell in love with were the most expensive. They were out of the question, but we were able to find cheaper models along the same curving lines - plain platinum spheres, mine fine and feminine, his a little chunkier.

If he had had strong objections, I don't think I would have forced the issue. As it happens, both of us are prone to skin allergies and regularly go without our rings for days at a time. I don't mind at all if he's not wearing his - as long as he doesn't slip it off on the way into a nightclub. For all that, when my gaze spontaneously falls on that ring on his finger, I am always surprised to feel a little ripple of pleasure.

It's a beautiful ring, and it really suits his hand, but I guess it's what it represents that gives it its power of frisson.

That, no matter what stressful, difficult, or plain boring stuff is happening in our lives, this man wears my ring, and I his. Something shining and beaming and pure - and so very easy to overlook - in the middle of the everyday grey.

Does Prince William's decision mean his commitment is shaky? Not necessarily. A ring is no more than a symbol. Look at his mother. Look at Liz Taylor. They had the most beautiful rings money could buy, but never the enduring love to match. Perhaps that's where William is coming from. Perhaps his gesture - which does seem jarring and out-of-step at first glance - is a way of saying he prefers to invest in his marriage, rather than the outward trappings.

After all, even the most expensive of rings will tarnish over time.



It reveals you are proud to be married

BY JANE HARDY

My reaction to the news that Prince William isn't going to wear a wedding ring after Kate has become his wife was slight shock. William seems a loving, committed chap who is genuinely fond of his fiancee. Why wouldn't he want to demonstrate that affection publicly, to indicate to any fortune-hunting girls without access to global media and therefore unaware of his marital status that he was taken?

Is this, in short, some sort of veiled insult, a kind of noblesse not obliging and digging in its heels? Does it indicate that he feels that while Kate must change and kowtow and wear a ring - albeit a massive carat one made from the traditional Welsh gold - he needn't.

Does it even show that he agrees with all the pub bores who have produced the vile quotes that Google regurgitates when you key in 'wedding ring' about there being four rings in marriage - engagement ring, wedding ring, suffering and enduring. Surely not, yet as Freud noted, there are no accidents in human behaviour.

When Michael and I decided to tie the knot after considering the matter for 10 years, we argued about the church (I wanted a C of E wedding, he didn't so we opted for the register office and a blessing in Canterbury Cathedral), the catering, the venue but oddly, never about the ring. Or rings, as he sweetly insisted on buying a chunky gold band to match my simple ring which was handmade to incorporate a bit of the 21st golden watch my mother gave me.

Whenever Michael has been without his ring - he once lost it for a day or two - he says he misses wearing it.

Asked his thoughts on why, he said: "It's an acknowledgement of our relationship and there's no other way of acknowledging it so I really think (William) should wear one."

It also allows other people to know your status and reveals that you are proud to be and remain married - no mean feat in the current climate.

But some men regard it as some kind of infringement or maybe simply don't like wearing jewellery. My nephew, one of the most married 32-year-olds you could meet and a devoted husband and father, said that of course he doesn't wear one. "It's just not me - it's not something that's my style. Most of my mates wear one but with me, it wasn't up for debate."

Yet what would he feel if his wife took her ring off before having a night out with the girls? Fair point, although I guess she - and Henry - might say that ultimately it's all about trust. With it, a marriage will prosper; without it, no number of wedding rings can compensate.

So although the Welsh gold mines could provide some of the shiny stuff for a ring for Prince William, he may just feel he doesn't need it as he kisses Kate on Buckingham Palace balcony on April 29.



I think it is important and symbolic

BY JAMIE McDOWELL

To be honest, I didn't even know that not wearing a wedding ring was an option at all, before all this hubbub about Prince William not wearing one started.

I'm due to get married later this year and I have to admit, although my other half's preparations have advanced to the level of what colour of champagne will be in the truffles, I haven't even got a ring yet.

I guess with Wills it's a little different. When he broke the news to Miss Middleton, I can't imagine she threw too much of strop.

It's not like the ladies down at Will's local are going to think he's single because he's not wearing a ring - what with all the pomp and fuss of his upcoming wedding, an event that could only be equalled in terms of hype by the Death Star landing at City of Derry Airport.

It was also reported that Welsh gold is the traditional material used in the fashioning of Royal marital bands, and that Kate's ring will be made from the precious metal. I wasn't even aware there was gold in Wales, but apparently them there hills have gold in them, boyo.

Before now, I had stupidly assumed that most rings look the same. Of course, women can tell the difference. But when I'm faced with the prospect of going into a jewellery store on my own, I just seem to unravel.

Firstly you have deal with the girls that work there. They ask if I have anything in mind.

Anything in mind? It's a wedding ring. How much variety could there be?

How wrong I was. You can get everything from rose gold rings to wood-inlay bands to multi-coloured platinum ones with little tribal designs on them that make you look like you drive a moped and have a small amount of cannabis in your pocket.

I've also noticed that price varies wildly, and as your interest wanders from one ring to the next, so does the way in which the staff speak to you.

You can choose from the £50 9ct gold Glasgow Rangers wedding piece, that they can 'put in a wee box for you for an extra £5', or the £4,000 platinum yacht master executive edition nuptial piece 'for sir'.

Then they offer you a glass of champagne. By this stage, a syringe of absinthe would be more appropriate. Where has the simplicity in getting married gone?

Why is a simple ring not enough any more? What ever happened to her father loading up a shotgun and prodding you up the aisle with it? Romance is dead.

I'll still be getting a ring for my wedding and wearing it.

And without getting into the soppy stuff, I think it's an important and symbolic gesture.

Even if Rangers don't win the league.

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