Thursday, February 10, 2005

a royal marriage

so all of england is abuzz with news of the upcoming marriage of prince charles to mrs. camilla parker-bowles. from reading the newsreports, i do not think this is your classic morganatic marriage, because upon marriage camilla assumes the style "her royal highness." in classic morganatic marriages, the non-royal receives no royal title or style whatsoever.

so, what we have here with charles and camilla is a compromise of sorts--she does not acquire the full status and title of her husband (that is, she will not be "princess of wales" or be crowned queen); but nonetheless she will be considered "royal." and because she will be "royal,"....(get this) she will then become a princess. and that means her full official style and title are: "Her Royal Highness The Princess Charles, Duchess of Cornwall." (it sounds a mouthful; and yes, she will be "princess charles").

in some respects this arrangement is quite different from that of his great uncle, the late duke of windsor (formerly king edward VIII), who abdicated the throne in 1936 in order to marry the american divorcée mrs. wallis simpson, in what was called "the love story of the century." in that marriage (which was likewise not morganatic), wallis was allowed to take her husband's title by becoming "duchess of windsor," but was not granted the rank of "royal." so she was never addressed as "her royal highness."

back then, the issue why wallis was deemed "unworthy" of becoming royal or queen was because of divorce (she had been twice divorced). today however, the issue with camilla is not so much divorce, but because of the people's continued fondness for the memory of diana. it wouldn't go well perhaps for the british and the commonwealth if camilla were to enjoy the title that diana once bore.

so, in practical terms what will happen is that, because camilla is a "royal highness," if you were to meet her and you are british, you will either have to curtsy (if you are female) or have to bow (for males). we americans of course will do none of that as we're republicans, with a small "r".

going back to the duke and duchess of windsor, this actually became a source of confusion and awkwardness, as people weren't sure whether or not they should bow or curtsy to wallis. and so this became a point of bitterness between the duke and his family, as the duke regarded this denial of the royal status to wallis as a slight against her.

but with camilla, no such awkwardness will arise....she will receive from british subjects the physical gestures of respect accorded to members of the royal family. and this is because unlike wallis, camilla enjoys, from my reading the reports, the grace and favor of the royal family, and most importantly of the queen.

the duke and duchess of windsor: theirs was
THE love story of the 20th century.

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