Carey fears crisis if Charles remarries

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The Independent Online
The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday broke his silence on whether Prince Charles should marry Camilla Parker Bowles by declaring that such a step would plunge the Church of England into crisis.

Dr George Carey's comments made clear that while there was no objection to the divorced Prince succeeding to the throne, the situation would be significantly different if he remarried.

The Archbishop's sudden intervention was greeted with surprise by constitutional observers who warned of a damaging conflict between the state and the Church if he tried to block a second marriage by Charles.

Government sources let it be known recently that the Prime Minister would be sympathetic to any future marriage. Peter Mandelson, the minister without portfolio, is believed to have had a number of meetings with the Prince, as well as having dinner with Mrs Parker Bowles. Dr Tony Wright, private parliamentary secretary to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, said that he did not believe the "sky would fall in" if Prince Charles wanted to marry again.

The Archbishop was speaking at a press conference while attending the 150th anniversary of the Australian Anglican Church in Sydney. He was asked: "Do you think Camilla Parker Bowles would make a good queen?" He replied that all Prince Charles has to be is the next heir to the throne. So the very fact that he is divorced is not an issue at all.

He added: "Now it is true that remarriage would create a crisis for the Church - this is well-known".

Dr Carey pointed out that the Prince of Wales had given no indication that he wanted to remarry following his divorce from the Princess of Wales, and thus it was a "non-issue".

Lambeth Palace tried to play down his remarks on the matter. A spokeswoman said the Archbishop was simply reiterating the well-known opposition of the Church to divorcees remarrying while their original spouse was still alive.

The chances of the Church accepting the Prince marrying again is thought to have been increased by the fact that the Archbishop had blessed the remarriages of both his own children. But the Lambeth Palace spokeswoman said: "He has also refused to bless many others. This depends entirely on individual circumstances".

However, Dr Carey's remarks won the immediate backing of Church traditionalists who welcomed him taking a lead on the matter. One leading Church traditionalist, the Archdeacon of York, the Venerable George Austin, said it was "about time" the Archbishop clarified the situation.

"It shouldn't be left to arch-deacons to say these things, it should have been said before by archbishops and bishops," he said.

The Archdeacon added that there was still a problem with the " hypocrisy" of the Church which tried to pretend that Ms Parker Bowles, as the Prince's mistress, did not exist.