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Relationships are relationship...
User logged in as Charles
My paternal grandfather died some fifteen years before I was born. He’s still my grandfather although I never knew him. If a blood relationship is valid why not one by marriage? George VI was the first Earl of Snowdon’s late father-in-law for the duration of the marriage between the latter and the Princess Margaret.
Did Napoléon I not refer to Louis XVI as [his] late uncle
I suppose while the Duke of Edinburgh could refer to King George VI as his father-in-law, Antony Armstrong-Jones could not, since the king was long dead when A A-J married Pss Margaret.
Is it right to call a man the *father-in-law* to somebody, if he died before the marriage of his child to that person?
Take, for instance, King Paul of the Hellenes: it is perfectly correct to call him the father-in-law of King Juan Carlos of Spain, since he was the one who gave away his daughter at her 1962 wedding in Athens to the then-heir to the throne. He didn't live to see Princess Sophie become queen, since he died only two years after the marriage. But during that brief period, the future Spanish sovereign was in a position to call the reigning Greek monarch *father*.
It was worlds different with Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, who married King Paul's only son only after his death (her husband, Constantine II of the Hellenes, was already an enthroned king at the time of their wedding in 1964). Now: Queen Frederika (who was still alive and kicking at the time) was without doubt the mother-in-law of the young new queen of Greece.
But I'm not sure if it's entirely right to refer to Anne-Marie as the daughter-in-law of King Paul, even though it certainly is right to refer to Juan Carlos as his son-in-law. The way I see it: she is the daughter-in-law only of Queen Frederika.
Just as Winifred Wagner was the daughter-in-law only of Cosima, not Richard: indeed, the Wikipedia article seems to confirm this, by referring to her simply as the wife of their only son. Yet, in a documentary about the Wagner family, Winifred was actually referred to as the composer's *daughter-in-law*, which simply doesn't make sense. Not only was Richard long dead by the time of the marriage in 1915 but also, Siegfried's wife hadn't even been born as of his father's death in 1883.
Winifred was a young woman who had actually been handpicked by her future mother-in-law (who most certainly was alive and kicking at the time of the wedding) to become the bride of her only son, in the hopes of giving him children to carry on the Wagner family name. You would have thought that Cosima was some kind of ambitious royal mother seeking to secure the continuance of a dynasty by finding a fertile wife who could produce heirs to the throne ....
Anyhow, royalty or commoner, I'm not sure if it's right to refer to Richard Wagner as the father-in-law of Winifred, or King Paul of the Hellenes as the father-in-law of Queen Anne-Marie, since neither woman was ever in a position to call her husband's father *Father* ...
What is the popular convention in describing these relationships, anyway?