Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Prince Charles and Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles may have got married on Saturday. Or not. The civil ceremony is a matter of legal opinion. But the blessing at St George’s Chapel, Windsor was a virtual wedding, as much like the real thing as Church of England rules would allow. What is certain is that the woman who has been portrayed as both a rottweiler and an albatross around the neck of the Royal family for over thirty years is now here to stay.
Come rain, shine, constitutional crisis, political uproar or terrorist attack, the new Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall (her preferred name) Duchess of Rothesay (in Scotland), Countess of Chester and Lady of the Isles will be a fixture in our lives. At the town hall and the chapel Camilla clung nervously to Charles’s arm as if her life depended on it. But once she got out among the crowd her confidence soared. She let go his arm and was soon animatedly working the crowd on her own. And though she didn’t quite know what to do with her hands or her posy, she seemed nice, friendly and genuinely to be enjoying her contact with people, who admittedly were a hand-picked lot she largely knew. But she was equally confident with strangers at Crathie Church on Sunday and didn’t seem to mind when an old man gave her hug. It’s not nearly as bad out there as she had feared and believed for years! Those of us who covered the engagement days of Charles and Diana were often puzzled. There was no obvious affection between them, no secret shared looks of a couple in love. My lasting impression was of a young woman determined to become the Princess of Wales at any price. And at 32, Charles was being told on all sides that it was time he got married. People who have been denied the unconditional love they need in childhood seek it in their adult relationships. They quickly feel threatened by third parties and lack the emotional intelligence and skill to handle and see rivals off. The underlying reason why the Charles and Diana marriage failed was that neither had been loved enough in childhood to be able to answer each other’s needs for affection. As Diana took refuge in bulimia, celebrity and a string of unsuitable lovers, Charles sought maternal comfort in Camilla. And though she conspired at the creation and accelerated the destruction of his marriage, Camilla was not the primary cause of its ultimate breakdown. The new official couple are not so different from other people who remarry in their fifties. Most have been through the emotional mill. The alienation of divorce has often been followed by years of loneliness and isolation and many have felt further diminished by the breakup of subsequent unsatisfactory liaisons. What they long for is the companionship and comfort of a lasting confiding relationship. None of us can live forever with the errors and burdens of our pasts. Or we would be doomed to eternal depression. To go on living, we need closure, an end to the pain of unhappy pasts. We need to draw a line and forgiveness to be able to move on. This is what being born again means to most people. We don’t yet know Camilla. But, unlike Diana, she seems unlikely to try to rival or upstage her husband. She will probably be a traditional supportive wife. If she plays it like the late Queen Mother and never complains or explains and never gives interviews, there’s a fair chance she will make a profoundly selfish, self-obsessed, weak, arrogant, petulant, bad tempered and extravagant misery guts of a man happy at last. It will take her time to win public affection. But for all their cack-handedness and shoddy attempts to manipulate public opinion in the run-up to the wedding, Clarence House may have been right in thinking the people will warm to her in time as they get to know her. There may still be much hand wringing over the prospect of Queen Camilla, which she will be if Charles becomes king. But she won’t care whether she’s Queen or Princess Consort. She’s married him at last and frankly needed give a damn. Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton 2005