In a statement early this morning to couriers, the Duchess Sahna Nillu distributed a written opinion on the recent controversy over the emperor's choice of a bride. It reads as follows:
To the people of Fastheld:
There has been a great deal of talk over His Majesty's choice of Baronet Ashlynn Birch to take the place of his deceased wife, Empress Freia Seamel. I wish to express several thoughts and key issues to the realm on this matter. In the first place, it occurs to me that the issue can be broken down into one of jurisdiction.
Firstly, matrimony is wholly the jurisdiction and realm of the Church of True Light, and no other has the divine right to grant the blessed union of marriage. If the Church condones and performs the marriage, than no man or woman of any other rank has the spiritual right to decry it.
Secondly, I must bring up the jurisdiction of House Kahar in dictating the Imperial line. We all realize by now that His Majesty breaks nearly a thousand years of custom by taking even a Baronet as a bride, but technically speaking, his obligation to the realm was performed by his first heir-bearing marriage. It will be up to House Kahar and House Kahar alone to determine if any children of this union will have any claim to the throne, but there will be no doubt that they will be Kahars of noble blood and not bastards.
Ideally, Baronet Birch would bear the title of Royal Consort and not Empress, and this is perhaps what catches the attention of the nobility the most. A noblewoman is raised in a different world than a freelander woman. We are raised with a different sense of duties, and brought up as wards of our Houses until such a time as a suitable marriage with a nobleman can be arranged or chosen. As in all things, the Emperor's prerogative is not the same as a noble's prerogative; It would mean the breakdown of the House bloodlines as we know them if noblemen were suddenly free to marry the tavern girl of their choosing, as well as delivering a slap in the face to all noblewomen who have performed their duties with purity and piety. Regardless of the outcome of the Emperor's choice, it is vital that a precedent not be set within the Houses.
One of the things that the noble Houses of Fastheld accept is the fact that the Emperor holds power in this realm, even the power to break with tradition. For a man who knew the taste of freedom but returned to a life of duty for our sake, it would be ungrateful and callous to deny him the comforts of the wife of his choosing. By being the most powerful man in the realm, we all must remember that he also accepts the heaviest burdens as his own. Should the Church choose to sanction this marriage and the Emperor choose even to grant the title of Empress to Baronet Ashlynn Birch, let all nay-sayers recall their places and jurisdiction in the matter and act accordingly.
Duchess Sahna Nillu Imperial Tradesmistress