Lovely photos of Lily Cooper at a society wedding in the Daily Mail. Lily who? Reasonably pretty, vaguely familiar, nice long dress, bra sticking out on purpose, so presumably she’s a bit bohemian. Hang on, is that Lily Allen? Indeed it is. Ardent fans will know she has dropped her maiden name. Everyone else won’t, but that shouldn’t dent sales of her forthcoming album, because for the album, she is resuming her original moniker (apparently). Which makes no sense whatsoever. What is the point of getting column inches in an attention-grabbing dress under one name, and then releasing an album under another? Such tactics make everyone confused, or, if you are like me, rather disappointed.
I must admit, a bit of me dies when a girlfriend declares that they are now Mrs Whatever, rather than what they have always been. Both my sisters gleefully dumped the surname Millard when they got hitched. Why are women, in this so-called era of gender equality, so ready to do this? After all, Lily Allen, (whose debut album had so many profanities that it actually had an age restriction on iPlayer), is hardly a shrinking violet happy to survive in the shadow of a spouse.
Assuming your husband’s surname appears to be more popular than ever. As with Lily Allen, so with Beyoncé, who we all now must call Mrs Carter or some such. And for Cherie Blair, what happened to the “I will remain Cherie Booth” schtick? She has quietly abandoned it for the title of her permatanned husband. I have far more regard for Miriam Gonzalez Durante, who clearly won’t play that game, no matter how many VIP treats she gets as a result of being married to Nick Clegg.
Maybe it’s all right. Because of Mrs Cooper, Blair, Carter and so on, keeping your maiden name is still seen as something of a radical gesture. I have been known to return letters addressed to Mrs *insert first initial of spouse* *insert surname of spouse*, with Not Known At This Address printed on them. All well and good, until a letter so addressed arrived from my father-in-law. Who was so furious at my deed that he then cancelled Christmas.
Too bad. To suggest that on marriage, we must erase our identity, is insulting. Debrett’s may say that this is the proper way to address married women but it is not – at least, not if you have moved on from the era in which married women had to allow their husbands ownership of their “goods and chattels”, including children.
These days, marriage is the union of two equals, and it would be thrilling and important if high-profile, successful women such as Lily Allen and Beyoncé, who have a key role in popular culture, could support this by the simple act of keeping their birth name. Hey ho. It’s my wedding anniversary today.