the moment Charles announced his second-wedding plans, it was obvious
Camilla would one day be his queen – and Australia’s! As dysfunctional
as the royal family and its advisers are, there was absolutely no way
this would become a repeat of the treatment meted out to the Duchess of
Windsor in the 1930s when the vexed subject of a morganatic marriage
was mooted. (A morganatic marriage is one between a member of the royal
house and a wife not of equal birth, in which the wife does not take
her husband’s rank.) Out of the question in 1936 – and totally
unacceptable today.

As it happened, the Duchess of Windsor was denied, quite illegally, the
style of “her royal highness”. But Charles and the Queen were being too
cute by half saying Camilla would become “princess consort” when
Charles becomes king. When they marry in ten days time, she will be
legally Princess of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Countess of Chester,
Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Carrick and a swag of totally
anachronistic titles which go with marrying the Queen’s eldest son.

They came up with the “princess consort” cop-out to assuage the ire of
the Diana lovers who still abound in the UK. Again, they were badly
advised. Queen Victoria invented the male form – Prince Consort – for
her first cousin and husband, Prince Albert, so he could have access to
state papers. The present queen has never wanted or given her husband
such a privilege, and it’s hard to imagine Camilla would be given and
or want such access.

Charles is still around when his mother dies, he will be proclaimed
king – and as such his wife will be queen. But this latest pantomime
has at least one happy side. The fabric of England’s premier family
will change forever. William and Harry will be able to marry whomever
they like, regardless of background. New genes will be introduced and
perhaps a more relevant brood will emerge to make this ridiculous
family more in tune with the era in which it will be living at the time.

for Australia it means nothing. Under our Constitution the spouse of
our head of state – the monarch of Great Britain – has no relevance.
And we must be grateful that this more and more applies today.
Australians are fast realising that having a foreigner in our top job
is as insulting as it is unsuitable.

Somehow the long shadow
of the lovely Diana, Princess of Wales is hovering over all of this.
She once admitted to me, in New York soon before her tragic death, that
she tried to change the family. Finally, it seems, she has.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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