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Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
Camilla and Charles: Any closer to marriage?

The BBC's deputy royal correspondent, Peter Hunt, answers questions about a report that the Queen has reluctantly given her consent for Prince Charles to marry Camilla Parker Bowles.

What are the facts?

It's very difficult to establish precisely. The Palace are dismissing the report and all we do know are the facts as far as Prince Charles' side is concerned. What his aides say now and have said more recently about the prospects of marriage is that Charles and his long-term companion Camilla Parker Bowles are comfortable with the relationship they have established, they don't talk about marriage and that there would be some potential problems if they were to go down that avenue.

How likely is it that the Queen has changed her mind?

What one of Charles' aides points out is that this week Camilla Parker Bowles is at a country house on the Balmoral estate, the Scottish retreat of the royal family, whilst the Queen herself is at Balmoral Castle but throughout the whole week she hasn't invited Camilla Parker Bowles to any event to which the Queen will be present. So we get the impression from this that we're still a long way back from the Queen accepting Camilla Parker Bowles at public or indeed private events.

What might make her change her mind?

If Charles were to become king they may well have to tidy up their relationship

Peter Hunt
I imagine some sense of practicality. Irrespective of what Charles and Camilla think about it now, if he were to become king they may well have to tidy up their relationship.

If he were to become king he will either have a relationship whereby he has a long-term companion whom he isn't married to, and what will public opinion think of that, or he goes down the line of marrying her. So the Queen may well be thinking it would be useful to get it established now rather than when he is made king, if he is made king.

Would the Queen take advice from anyone else about this matter?

I don't think she would be under any pressure at all but she has lots of advisors and I'm sure she would seek advice from the prime minister, whom she meets once a week.

Would public opinion be considered?

It certainly has been so far in terms of how the relationship has been handled by his people. Public opinion is what they have focused on and tried to work with.

Would Camilla Parker Bowles then become the queen?

That is one of the great imponderables they haven't yet addressed. If he were king then she would become queen but the thing about the British constitution is that it is not written down so it is flexible. So I'm sure that's what the advisors would be working on if that's the road down which they are going but I would have thought that was a long way off at the moment.

What title would Camilla Parker Bowles take?

I'm sure there are a range of them. Look at the way they came up with the title for the Princess of Wales to become Diana, Princess of Wales, when they got divorced. But I think it depends on whether there is a public appetite for another Princess of Wales, or indeed a Queen Camilla.

What implications would remarriage have for Charles as head of the Church?

There are problems there but from his perspective the advantages are that the Church of England is almost schizophrenic towards the whole issue of divorce and it is quite a fluid area. The hope, I imagine, in Charles' camp would be that they do decide to go down this road and marry. The Church's view may have softened quite considerably by that stage.

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