- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2005

LONDON — Now they will have to ditch all that celebratory crockery engraved “8 April 2005.” As perhaps befitting a wedding that seemingly has been jinxed from the start, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles won’t be getting married on Friday after all.

The heir apparent to the British throne and his fiancee will have to wait one more day (assuming nothing else goes wrong) because on Friday, Charles will be in Vatican City, representing his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, at the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

Now, the prince and Mrs. Parker Bowles have decided to tie the knot at Windsor Guildhall on Saturday — although not in the afternoon ceremony they had wanted. The Guildhall is booked solid and could fit the royal couple in only for midmorning, or maybe a bit later.

“The prince very much wanted to go to the funeral,” said his communications secretary, Paddy Harveson. “He feels this is absolutely the right thing to do.”

That was hardly the beleaguered and occasionally stubborn royal’s first reaction. A day earlier, Clarence House, Prince Charles’s London headquarters, insisted, “The wedding is still scheduled to take place on Friday,” although it added, “We remain sensitive to events that are happening elsewhere.”

However, it quickly became evident that had the wedding gone ahead as planned for Friday, Charles faced the embarrassing prospect of losing a number of high-profile guests, including Britain’s prime minister and the archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England.

Prime Minister Tony Blair — whose wife, Cherie, is a practicing Roman Catholic — is determined to go to the funeral and would have passed up the wedding had he been forced to make a choice, political sources told journalists.

The same is true for Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who is scheduled to bless the prince and his new bride in a 45-minute service at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel immediately after their civil ceremony.

The Charles-Camilla nuptial plans have been fraught with problems and misfortune since the announcement of their engagement six weeks ago.

Originally, a wedding full of traditional pomp and circumstance had been planned for Windsor Castle itself, until legal experts pointed out that the ceremony would have to be open to the public — and the castle itself open to civil weddings for the next three years. The queen was not pleased.

No sooner had the forthcoming rites been transferred to the nearby Windsor Guildhall than other experts questioned whether the heir to the throne could legally marry in a civil ceremony. It is a question that still vexes numerous legal minds.

Next came humiliating word from his mother, the queen, that she and his father, Prince Philip, would not attend the wedding, although they would drop by for Archbishop Williams’ blessing at St. George’s Chapel.

Then there was the uproar over Mrs. Parker Bowles’ royal title. She wants to be known as the duchess of Cornwall, but a government constitutional committee says that whether she likes it or not, she would become Queen Camilla when Charles becomes king — and that it would take an unlikely change of the law to prevent it.

That has infuriated thousands of fans of Prince Charles’ first wife, the late Princess Diana, and their fury has grown over the recent revelation that his second wife will automatically inherit Diana’s royal title, princess of Wales, on her wedding day.

Mrs. Parker Bowles’ insistence that duchess of Cornwall will suffice has far from soothed the ruffled feathers of Diana’s admirers.

And to complete the montage of embarrassment, it turned out that the official engagement photograph was taken by a chef who demanded royalties.

So Prince Charles will join mourners, millions of whom will jam the Vatican on Friday for the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

Then on Saturday, he will marry Camilla Parker Bowles before an estimated three dozen guests at Windsor Guildhall. Meanwhile, nearby shops already are pondering what to do with all those plates, cups and saucers emblazoned “Charles and Camilla — 8 April 2005.”

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