Queen to miss Charles and Camilla's wedding

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The Independent Online

First there was the small matter of deciding on the right venue for the wedding. Then came the sensitive discussion as to whether the nuptials would actually be legal. And then there was the astrologer who declared the date they'd set was inauspicious.

First there was the small matter of deciding on the right venue for the wedding. Then came the sensitive discussion as to whether the nuptials would actually be legal. And then there was the astrologer who declared the date they'd set was inauspicious.

But, to cap it all, yesterday the Queen announced she would not be attending the second marriage of her eldest son, who will wed his long-term inamorata, Camilla Parker Bowles, on 8 April.

Buckingham Palace immediately went into damage control mode, stressing that Her Majesty's decision was not a "snub", but a way of ensuring the civil ceremony, at the Guildhall in Windsor, would remain a "low key" affair, according to the wishes of the happy couple. She would, Buckingham Palace said, attend the blessing in Windsor Castle's St George's Chapel before hosting the reception at Windsor Castle.

Prince William and Prince Harry are expected to attend the Guildhall ceremony as well as Mrs Parker Bowles' children Tom and Laura.

"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," said a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman. "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."

She added: "The Queen is attending the service of dedication and paying for the reception - this is not a snub."

Among those questioning the implications of the Queen's decision not to attend the civil ceremony was David Starkey, the constitutional historian: "We are into unknown territories with this decision and one can only speculate on the reason why," he said.

"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."

The word "unprecedented" has been used repeatedly in a bid to describe various aspects of the engagement since it was announced earlier this month.

Despite the ambiguity of the Queen's position in relation to the nuptials, the confusion surrounding the organisation is clearly becoming an embarrassment.

Last week, the civil ceremony was switched from Windsor Castle to the Guildhall, Windsor's town hall, after the apparent oversight of a licensing blunder. Royal aides apparently failed to realise that obtaining a wedding licence in the castle would mean that anyone would have been able to apply to get married there for the subsequent three years.

In a further setback, leading constitutional lawyers expressed doubt over the legality of the Prince marrying outside a church. While the Lord Chancellor has insisted that the planned civil ceremony is legal, the dispute appears to have arisen from the interpretation of the 1836 and 1949 Marriage Acts.

Last night, Royal experts warned that the Queen's decision not to attend the ceremony would - no matter how many regal denials and explanations are issued - result in the inevitable and widespread perception that she was "snubbing" the union.

Dickie Arbiter, the Queen's former assistant press secretary, 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: "It seems they had not done their homework properly I do not think we have seen the end of it; there will be a lot more to come."

Arthur Edwards, who takes pictures of the Royal Family for The Sun, was more outspoken, describing arrangements as a "catalogue of cock-ups".

"It is just another snub," he said. "This is your mother. Mothers always go to your wedding whoever or wherever you are. This is a lame excuse."

Ian Lloyd, a commentator, added: "On this occasion a lot of things seem to be going wrong, the Royal Family will hate that and the thought that it appears to be out of control."

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