Did I hear you right?....did you say Queen Camilla?
Will that be Camilla's title when Charles ascends the throne? At the moment it's a very strong possibility.
Ten years ago the idea of Camilla being anything other than a footnote in royal mistress history (like her great-grandmother Alice Keppel, longest serving mistress of King Edward VII) would have been met by extreme hostility. Charles and Diana were the golden couple, the unbeatable team, and destined to rule over us. Now we can only think of what could have been instead of facing the reality of what is. At one point it was inconceivable that the heir to the throne would ever get divorced, especially to Diana of all people. Oh how things have changed!
Now, on a daily basis there is a ping pong game going back and forth on what Camilla's title will be. I'm not referring to her future title of HRH Duchess of Cornwall, that seems to be acceptable to all concerned. A good compromise to those who revered Diana and don't want the title of HRH The Princess of Wales sullied by someone so strongly associated with Diana losing it. Details..details... haven't people already forgotten about that?
No the raging debate is on Camilla's future title once the Queen goes to that drafty palace in the sky. The company line seems to be that she will be referred to as HRH Princess Consort. On the face of things it seems like a good idea but not one that is written in stone. The official announcement from Clarence House leaves some doubt:
'It is intended that Mrs Parker Bowles should use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne. '
The word 'intended' gives an out for the Prince's camp, banking on those who have either died of boredom or forgotten about this issue by the time he becomes King. Admittedly this discussion on her title seems to be somewhat academic as who really cares in the grand scheme of things? While shopping for Cheerios at the supermarket, are you suddenly going to stop dead in your tracks at the injustice of it all? lose sleep? complain to your local politican? Shake your fist at the sky and scream 'WHY' at the top of your lungs. Better do that after you check out so you don't miss the sale on kitty litter.
According to those in the know, the ubiquitious 'sources', Camilla herself does not want to be called Queen. A fairly diplomatic route to take, people already dislike her enough without her making the presumption that she will inherit the title by default of no one else wanting it. But is this really how she feels? Once again, those of us who have nothing better to do can only conjecture. Where is the Queen Mother when you need her to straighten things out? Give the definative answer to settle things once and for all. In 1936 She overruled constitutional law by whim of her own bitterness when a twist of fate made her Queen. When King Edward VIII abdicated, choosing happiness over a life of mind numbing ribbon cutting. she used her influence with her husband, the new King, and denied the wife of the newly minted Duke of Windsor those three precious letters - HRH. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor spent the rest of their days raging about it. But what would the 'HRH' really changed things for the Duchess? Maybe a polite bow or curtsey, plus being able to pull rank with the relatives back home in Pennslyvania?
Back to Camilla. By rights she would be Queen in all but name so why beat around the bush? We've just seen how the rules can be bent if necessary. Should she be given the title Queen what are we reallly going to do about it? storm Buckingham palace? stop buying souvenirs? convert to republicanism? The royals pandered to the public when Diana died, lowering the Union Jack on the palace and looking suitably anguished but that doesn't mean they have to do it all the time. When Prince Harry had his latest gaffe with the Nazi insignia the public demanded a visit to Auchwitz and instead got an apology. Where's the uproar now that we have Camilla's title to discuss? Shouldn't this have done permanent damage? The likelihood is that it will only be mentioned in those Prince Harry expose biographies as evidence he's the bad, misguided son.
Does Camilla really not want to become Queen? I don't believe that for a second. To call her HRH Princess Consort she meets her fate only halfway. Sure the disadvantages outweigh the advantages but large diamonds and priceless jewels are a consolation prize aren't they? Not to mention appearing on the commemorative china and keychains. It will soften the blow inherent with signing on with the 'family firm'. With Charles beside her it's a win win situation. But should things sour, as we've seen with Diana, it doesn't need to be a permanent life sentence and it's easier to escape from than the mafia. God save Queen Camilla.
© Marilyn Braun 2005
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