The Prince of Wales
The Prince of Wales
12th February 2005
It is a pity that some elements in the news media have taken the engagement of the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles as an opportunity to again incite criticism of Prince Charles. Not interested in congratulating the couple on their forthcoming marriage, they set polls asking people whether Charles should marry Camilla, or even worse, as a 'media personality' did last night, asking whether he should be King.
The first question is foolish, and at best of purely academic interest, since Charles is going to marry Camilla. The marriage has the blessing of political and religious leaders, including that of our own Prime Minister. It would have been more sensible to ask whether participants approve of this decision.
The second question is irrelevant, and possibly seditious. Charles will become King on the death of The Queen, because that is the law. To call for a change in the law is a democratic right which the monarchy upholds; to try to undermine confidence in the law and public institutions could be sedition.
There is no reason why the Prince of Wales cannot marry Camilla Parker-Bowles. It is irrelevant whether she is 'popular' or not, or has a model's good looks. An ordinary individuals choice of spouse isn't decided by opinion poll, nor should Prince Charles'. While it is true that any royal spouse should be broadly acceptable to the majority of people, but it is not appropriate for the public to decide whom he marries. We must not forget that the majority of people approve of the marriage.
The failure of Prince Charles' first marriage shouldn't cast a shadow over the rest of his life. For seven years the Prince of Wales has been in an invidious position. He couldn't marry Camilla without incurring criticism from some people - despite the fact that the Church of England is comfortable with the marriage. He couldn't live with Camilla without facing criticism from others. He would face criticism whichever choice her made. However, his decision to marry was the honourable and appropriate one, since he did not wish to be separated from Camilla. To forgo a church wedding (though there will be a service of prayer and dedication presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury); to accord to Mrs Parker-Bowles a lesser style than that to which she would be entitled as the wife of the Prince of Wales (and, in the future, King); and his delay of a full seven years after Diana's death, should all be seen as indicating a real attempt to accommodate these concerns.
Some commentators seem to feel that the Prince was tainted by the failure of his marriage, and that, as a penance, he ought to remain single for the remainder of his life. Such a severe penalty is not imposed on others, so why should Charles be made to suffer in this way? There seems to be some confusion between monarchy and monastery. Members of Royal Families around the world have divorced and remarried in the past. It is ironic that in an era where cohabitation and same-sex couples are broadly acceptable, and many marriages end in divorce, members of the Royal Family are expected to comply with a Victorian moral code, and roundly condemned if they don't.
The Prince of Wales has had the misfortune of having suffered a marriage failure. He has tried hard to make a success of both his personal and public lives. He has succeeded in the later. The Prince of Wales is a conscientious and energetic campaigner for a range of good causes. He raises more money for charities than any single individual or group in the Commonwealth. Unfortunately the news media prefers to ignore these day-to-day activities and successes.
There is nothing to be gained by attributing blame for the failure of their marriage at the door of either Prince Charles or Diana - or of Camilla, or any of Diana's lovers. The marriage ended some ten years ago. The Prince ought to be able to move on, as Diana was allowed to do.
The Prince should now be allowed to enjoy some happiness in his private life. He has now chosen to remarry. Only the most mean-spirited or vindictive would deny him their best wishes.
Dr Noel Cox
The Monarchist League of New Zealand Inc.