Note: The writer Gail Walker is 'right-wing' to say the least.
The Wedding Di-lemma
Charles and Camilla have set the date for April 8 but Gail Walker says the
happy couple had better brace themselves for one uninvited guest at their
Windsor Castle wedding.
By Gail Walker
12 February 2005
She won't be invited but she'll be the most prominent guest at Charles and
Camilla's wedding. As the Prince of Wales slips the ring on to his new
bride's finger at Windsor Castle, Diana, Princess of Wales, will be there,
looking over his shoulder. As the happy couple pose for official photographs
she'll be there, too.
In fact, at every public step they take in their marriage, Diana will be the
ghostly figure at their sides. Every move they make will be measured against
She Who Is Dead.
Because - and with what supreme irony! - to borrow Diana's infamous phrase
from that Panorama interview, there are three people in this marriage. And
there always will be.
Just as Parker Bowles haunted Diana's desperate, loveless years with Charles
so, too, will Diana gaze on, doe-eyed and iconic, on the new Mr and Mrs
Of course, the line peddled by the royal spindoctors is that here is a
couple, ill-starred in love, who are finally getting a well-earned chance at
a fairytale ending. After three decades of wanting to be together, they are
at last getting their wish. They deserve some happiness. They have suffered
enough. Exhausted tongues wag on about the change in public mood.
But is there really?
Okay, no-one's going to spit at them in the street.
But it's not going to be that easy to re-write history.
The timing of their announcement? Rather than a love story for Valentine's
weekend, it's as if they've vomited all over it.
The plain truth is that Charles (56) and Camilla, (57) were unhappy in love
because they played dirty pool with other people's lives.
In an act stunning in its callousness Charles, then 32, married a naive
20-year-old former nursery assistant in St Paul's Cathedral under completely
false pretences. He duped Diana and conned the millions watching across the
nation and around the world.
He got a brood mare and once he had his heir and spare he dumped her.
Even before Diana walked up the aisle she had well-founded dark suspicions
about Charles' relationship with Camilla, the woman she was to later dub the
Rottweiler. On their honeymoon Charles tactlessly sported cufflinks given to
him by his married mistress.
"Boy did we have a row ... I remember crying my heart out on my honeymoon,"
recalled Diana years later.
Yes, Diana wasn't an easy woman, but so much of her fragile personality was
shaped by the wretched marriage she found herself in.
Damningly, too, in the years since her death, when Diana's reputation has
been viciously shredded, Charles has not once spoken up to defend the memory
of the mother of his sons, William and Harry. On the contrary, on more than
one occasion, there's been a strong suspicion that he's been behind some of
the character assassination.
And, still, for all the claims of Diana's extra-marital liaisons and
flakiness, she persists as a popular figure in the public's imagination; a
wronged woman who continued to do good works.
But Charles' treatment of his wife is only a symptom of his rather feudal
attitudes. He lectures us on what is good in architecture, art, organic
farming and morality. From his earliest dabblings with the writings of
Laurens van der Post to his expressed desire to be Protector of Faiths, he
has implied he has a greater spiritual sensitivity than most of us.
Protector of faiths? Yes, Charlie, why drag down only Anglicanism when you
can take a few others with you?
Greater sensitivity? His vile treatment of Diana set off a chain of events
that would lead to his wife's tragic death, at just 36, in a Paris
This is now the subject of a police investigation and, incredible as it may
seem, Charles is to be questioned.
But, then again, Charles, by his words and actions, has blown all rights to
popular deference. No wonder there are now angry questions in Parliament
about his personal finances.
Ultimately it's his arrogance and self-serving nature that people dislike so
There'd be warmer feeling towards his forthcoming nuptials if he'd done the
decent thing and given up his right to the throne. Not doing so allows him
to grab it all but raises huge and potentially fatal constitutional issues.
After all, Edward VIII gave up his throne for the love of his life. But
Charles is determined to hang on to both.
Wedding number two is a civil job, so just how is he going to square this
with becoming head of the Church of England? The devil could yet be in the
And how can he be head of the Church that he can't get married in? It's like
a businessman not having the keys to his own premises.
Has there been a single year - yep, just one year - since this man came of
age, when he hasn't been at the centre of some embarrassment or other? He
has single-handedly brought more discredit to the Royal family and the
institution of monarchy than any other individual since Edward VIII. There's
been The Railway Siding Incident, the pre-Diana wedding "whatever love
means" television interview, taped lewd calls to Camilla, the big TV
adultery confession, his awkwardness as he turned out for his ex-wife's
funeral, Harry's boozing ...
But somehow not even his most spectacular eccentricities have holed him
beneath the waterline. Yet.
Whether he wins the PR war over his wedding to Camilla remains to be seen.
But it's a tough call, and I can only imagine that as the April 8 date draws
closer, so too will the spectre of Diana loom ever larger. The uninvited
guest, slipping into the background of every occasion.
For most people, the bottom line remains that Diana was dealt a lousy hand.
And HRH Camilla is hard to stomach. If he's ever crowned King and she
becomes Princess Consort? Well, that title just sounds like a souped up
Public sentiment towards Charles and Camilla may not be as strong as
But even if it's just indifference, that's dangerous enough.
Will that change as the weeks turn to months and months to years?
Well, like I say, there will be three people in this marriage. For better or