The Royal road to unwedded bliss

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The Independent Online
The Princess of Wales will be spending a quiet day alone in Kensington Palace tomorrow as her marriage officially ends. Her ex-husband will be with the family at Balmoral.

Frankly, what a boring end to the marriage that has provided such amusement to the British people for the past 15 years. The Queen granted a public holiday for the Royal Wedding, so she should do the same on Royal Divorce Day after the endless documentaries, paparazzi abuse, affairs, non-affairs and Will Carling we have all had to endure.

The Prince and Princess would have no shortage of things to do to make their divorce go with a bang. Ceremonies, parties, greetings cards are now all run-of-the-mill for parting couples. Their first port of call should be Divorce Magazine, newly launched in America. The first issue offers helpful hints on getting through that difficult transitional period. "Haven't been on a date in 15 years? We'll show you some great new ways of meeting people in the 1990s," blares one headline, although according to most royal scandals that's one area in which neither Charles nor Diana needs practice.

If not content with her pounds 15m settlement, Diana could leaf through to money matters to stave off boredom: "If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, here's help finding them - or satisfying yourself that there's nothing to hide." And for Charles there is the indispensable: "How to Do It: The all-sports, swimsuit-illustrated Bachelor Guy's Guide to Housekeeping".

But what the royal couple's devoted public needs is public display of lack of affection. The obvious divorce fashion accessory these days is the divorce ceremony - far more satisfactory than a short announcement in court. The Church of England still does not officially condone this, although in May Canon Michael Woods sought to get the practice of "divorce ceremonies" officially recognised by the Norwich Diocesan Synod. The proposal was voted down two to one.

As a future head of the Church of England, Charles might be reluctant to approach the Unitarian Church but they do have such ceremonies well organised. One possible service begins: "After much effort, pain and anger Charles and Diana have decided that they no longer wish to be husband and wife. They still wish to be friends and to respect each other and care about each other." Well, we know they no longer wish to be husband and wife...

A simpler way might be just to send a card. "All Good Things Must End ... So Do The Bad Ones. Congratulations on Your Divorce" is one example.

But there is one way that both Charles and Diana could profitably spend the day. A Canadian company offers the service of removing exes from photographs "without a trace". Both of them could enjoy Wednesday digitally expunging each other's features and remembering John Kenneth Galbraith's advice "The happiest time in anyone's life is just after the first divorce".

GLENDA COOPER

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