Queen 'does not approve or does not care'
• The Queen will not attend the civil marriage ceremony of Prince Charles.
• Her non-attendance is in line with couple's wish to keep the day low-key.
• She will be hosting and attending the reception at Windsor castle.
"The Queen will not be attending the civil ceremony because she is aware that the prince and Mrs Parker Bowles wanted to keep the occasion low key. The Queen and the rest of the Royal Family will, of course, be going to the service of dedication at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. She is very pleased to be giving the wedding reception at the castle." - BUCKINGHAM PALACE SPOKESPERSON
Story in full THE wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles was cast into "unknown territory" last night when Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen would not be attending the civil marriage ceremony of her son and future daughter-in-law.
One historian said it could mean Her Majesty "did not approve or did not care".
The decision, which took royal commentators by surprise, was described as unprecedented by one constitutional historian, as the palace moved swiftly to deny the Queen’s decision was a snub.
It is understood that Prince William and Prince Harry, along with Mrs Parker Bowles’s children, Tom and Laura, will be present at the 8 April civil wedding in the Guildhall at Windsor.
However, Buckingham Palace said last night: "The Queen will not be attending the civil ceremony because she is aware that the prince and Mrs Parker Bowles wanted to keep the occasion low key.
"The Queen and the rest of the Royal Family will, of course, be going to the service of dedication at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. She is very pleased to be giving the wedding reception at the castle."
The palace declined to comment on speculation that police had warned the Queen against attending on security grounds.
Of the claimed desire to avoid excessive publicity, the spokesman added: "The Queen’s prime concern is that the civil ceremony should be as low key as possible, in line with the couple’s wishes. Clearly if the Queen were to attend, the occasion would no longer be, by definition, low key."
Asked if the Queen’s decision was a snub, the spokeswoman replied: "The Queen is attending the service of dedication and paying for the reception - this is not a snub."
A spokesman for the Prince said details of the ceremony had yet to be finalised. Other members of the Royal Family and the Parker Bowles family may also be at the Guildhall.
However, the Queen’s decision to stay away from the wedding only ignited debate about the relationship between the Prince and his mother, and the way the marriage arrangements have been handled.
The constitutional historian Dr David Starkey said last night: "We are into unknown territories with this decision and one can only speculate on the reason why. It could be security, that she doesn’t approve, or that she doesn’t care, a position which would unite her with the majority of her subjects.
"There has been no real precedent of this - and let’s remember we are dealing with the wedding of the heir to the throne - where there has been this kind of distance." But royal expert Dickie Arbiter said the Queen’s decision to stay away from the civil service would be seen as a snub to the couple, who are both divorced.
He said: "I think any parent would be a bit fed-up with the way this has unfolded. When it was announced there was a tremendous fanfare but the goalposts have moved considerably."
And he warned: "I do not think we have seen the end of it, there will be a lot more to come."
Royal photographer, Arthur Edwards, said the arrangements for the wedding have so far been "a catalogue of cock-ups". "It is just another snub," he told Sky News. "This is your mother. Mothers always go to your wedding whoever or wherever you are.
"This is a lame excuse. The reason she is not going, it seems to me, is that it is a civil ceremony in a register office and she does not feel she should be there."
The civil ceremony was last week switched from Windsor Castle to the Guildhall, Windsor’s town hall, after a licensing blunder. Apparently, Royal aides failed to realise that the licence required for the civil wedding to take place in the castle would run for three years. This would have meant that anyone could have applied to be married in the castle during that time.
Despite the opinion of government legal experts, leading lawyers have expressed doubt that the prince can be married outside church.
The dispute centres on the interpretation of legislation dating from 1836 and 1949.
Under the 1836 Marriage Act, members of the Royal Family are explicitly barred from marrying in a civil ceremony.
The 1949 Marriage Act, which formalised civil marriages, superseded the 1836 Act but included a clause saying: "Nothing in this Act shall affect any law or custom relating to the marriage of members of the Royal Family."
Some legal experts argue that this means the 1949 Act does not apply to the Royal Family.
If this is the case, Charles and Camilla are still bound by the 1836 law and cannot be married in a civil ceremony. In such circumstances, only emergency legislation could rescue the Royal wedding.
Last night, PR guru Max Clifford commented that the obvious message from the Queen’s absence was that she did not approve. "The whole thing just becomes more and more farcical and more and more embarrassing as the days go by," he told the BBC.
"You would have to be an absolutely dedicated monarchist not to see this as a snub.
"She is his mother. What mother would stay away from her son’s wedding other than a mother who isn’t happy about that wedding? That would be the basic assumption by anybody."
Mr Clifford said the royals had slipped in the public’s estimation in recent years.
Latest in a list of departures from Royal marriage protocol
THE Queen’s decision to stay away from the civil marriage ceremony of her son, the Prince of Wales, and Camilla Parker Bowles is just one of a number of departures from Royal marriage protocol.
February 10 - Immediately after the engagement announcement, Clarence House was forced into making constitutional decisions regarding Mrs Parker Bowles’s future title.
February 11 - Aides confirmed that details had yet to be completed for the ceremony, leaving some commentators to wonder why such vital decisions had been left to the last minute.
February 13 - Charles and Camilla took a trip down the aisle, but only in preparation for the big day. The couple joined a congregation of just 34 in St Lawrence’s Church in Didmarton, Gloucestershire.
February 14 - Clarence House was forced to issue a statement rejecting claims that the civil marriage between the prince and Mrs Parker Bowles would not be legal.
February 17 - The couple’s original plan - to marry in a civil service at St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle - was scuppered by licensing laws which would have made the venue "regularly available" for the next three years to anyone who wanted to marry there.
February 22 - Charles will have no best man at the ceremony, his household announced.
February 23 - The palace confirms that the Queen will not attend the service, but will attend the dedication service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.
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