Royal marriage favoured by Tories

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The Independent Online
Senior Conservatives yesterday said they were in favour of Prince Charles marrying Camilla Parker Bowles, but they thought he was cosying up too much to Tony Blair over the Government's plans for taking more young people off welfare and into work.

The Prince of Wales is due to meet Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, today for the latest in a series of meetings in public and in private with senior Cabinet ministers.

Tory MPs believe Prince Charles is seeking a closer relationship with the Government, to ensure the Prime Minister's approval when he seeks to marry Mrs Parker Bowles, whose 50th birthday party was organised by the Prince, and was widely interpreted as a move designed to "soften- up" public opinion.

Lord Archer, the Tory peer, who backed William Hague's leadership campaign, said he was in favour of the Prince marrying Mrs Parker Bowles but he believed he was getting too close to the Government. "I think it is very dangerous for him to become involved in political issues."

Lord Blake, a Tory constitutional expert, said: "He is getting a bit too near. The welfare-to-work business is an important part of Labour's policy and it is a controversial part. He appears to be endorsing it."