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Friday, February 11, 2005

Constitutional Anarchy

So, Camilla and Charles are due to marry.

They dropped the "bombshell" at 0900 yesterday morning, a totally unexpected move that had shell-shocked presenters on every channel cutting off guests mid-sentence. The whole thing was sadly predictable however. The announcements were made by press-release as the happy couple went about their daily business separately as if nothing had occurred. They weren't even seen together until that night. The rest of Britain's answer to the Simpsons telephoned in their congratulations from afar.

Now I'm no expert - having never announced an engagement - but if you were going to announce such a joyous and important event - wouldn't you want just a bit of ceremony? Perhaps the parents turning up with a bottle of bubbly and a tacky card? Wouldn't you be showing off your engagement ring to everyone who asked (and quite a few who hadn't)? The two Princes are supposed to be very happy - why weren't they there giving their new step mum a bit of a cuddle and a big bunch of flowers?

That really is one weird, cold family.

Immediately of course the press circus has begun. With entirely predictable results. Much to their disappointment, the happy couple have managed to pretty much circumvent all the constitutional wranglings and limited the impact of her "replacing Diana". Although she will legally be the "Princess of Wales" she won't use the title or be referred to by it, instead she will use one of the lesser known titles "HRH Duchess of Cornwall". If Charles becomes King, they will not follow the age old tradition and crown her Queen (not a legal or constitutional requirement), instead she will be the "Princess consort". To get around the niggling fact that the future head of the Church of England may be a divorcee who cheated on his missus, they will be married in a civil ceremony and have their wedding simply blessed. Charles divorce isn't a problem since Diana is dead. Camilla's divorce would be a problem, since her husband is still alive, and Charles can't marry a divorcee - but that's OK, because in the strict religious sense they aren't married! Clever eh? As far as the CofE is concerned, Camilla is simply his mistress.

Nevertheless all the usual tabloid suspects are running polls asking if "Camilla should be Queen". Channel 5 news, in a feat of journalistic ingenuity worth of Machiavelli or even Alistair Campbell, ran a poll asking "Should Charles marry Camilla" (90% No) and solemnly declared that 90% of people don't want Camilla to be Queen - nice one Rupert!

I think that anyone seeking an honest reflection of the publics view on the matter should ask two separate questions.
1) "Should Charles Marry Camilla".
In my opinion, its none of our damn business. Personally, I figure he should have married her back in 1971 when they fell in love, rather than buggering about with Diana. Had Diana not died in 1997, thus triggering the nauseating "St Diana of AIDS Orphans memorial industry", then they'd have been married years ago, using similar jiggery pokery to circumvent the wrath of the church. C&D divorced 10 years ago. Get over it.

2)"Should Camilla be Queen".
This is a perfectly legitimate question, in an abstract sort of a way. Yes the public should decide how much they want to bend the rules of the constitution - but lets not turn it into a popularity contest. It never has been in the past, why should it be now? The monarchs have always been dodgy characters and the public doesn't usually have a say in matters. But the point is that she won't be. So why all the fuss - the press are just gutted that the issue has been decided already, with no input from them.

So the only really good news is that the wedding will be on April the 8th - if Camilla were twenty years younger you'd be wondering if she's up the duff - this gives us less than 2 months to be sick to the back teeth of the endless bickering over the rights and wrongs.

They're doing it folks - deal with it.



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