Charles must formally apologise to Camilla's ex-husband, says top bishop

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The Prince of Wales is required by church rules to apologise to Andrew Parker Bowles for breaking up his marriage to Camilla, according to a leading Church of England bishop.

The Prince of Wales is required by church rules to apologise to Andrew Parker Bowles for breaking up his marriage to Camilla, according to a leading Church of England bishop.

David Stancliffe, the Bishop of Salisbury and the church's principal authority on the rules of worship, said church regulations state that Prince Charles should atone for committing adultery before the marriage can take place.

The bishop said in a statement: "The Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker Bowles will be taking part in prayers of penitence at the service of prayer and dedication following their civil marriage. Preparation for the formal expression of such prayers includes the making good of any hurts, the restoration of relationships, and serious attention being paid to the relationships fractured or damaged by misconduct."

The bishop has made it clear that the Prince and his bride-to-be would have to do more than repeat the formulaic words of a confession during the service. The Prince would need to offer his apology before the service in St George's Chapel, Windsor, on 8 April, either face to face or by a letter. A Clarence House spokesman said: "This is a private matter. We would not comment."

Mr Parker Bowles and Camilla divorced by mutual consent in January 1995 on the grounds of having lived apart for more than two years. The announcement came within two months of Charles's televised admission that he had committed adultery.

Mr Parker Bowles and his second wife Rosemary have been invited to the church service and reception. Last December Stancliffe, who is considered a behind-the-scenes fixer in Charles's forthcoming nuptials, announced that the Church of England would endorse the marriage through a service of prayer and dedication on condition that it was first conducted in a register office.

The decision by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, to approve the marriage resolved an apparently intractable problem. In 2002, the Church of England decided for the first time to let divorcees remarry in church, but the bishops threw a spanner in the Prince's plans by declaring that such weddings should not consecrate an "old infidelity".

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