Politics & Policy

Confusion Confounded

Some thoughts on Charles and Camilla.

NASSAU — It would not be correct to say that Nassau, the bright little island in the Bahamas, is roiling over the affairs (double entendre intended) of the British monarchy, but with the approach of April 8, conversations on the implications of the wedding are certainly going on.

Mentioned in several quarters is an inflammatory article in the London Daily Mail. It was written by Michael Thornton, a British writer who chose to identify himself in that piece as “an ardent monarchist and distinguished royal biographer.” Mr. Thornton lists his complaints against Prince Charles, and then against Camilla Parker Bowles, and then against the Queen.

We arrest this account to ask a question inchoate in the perplexing circumstances of the planned wedding.

What is the point of it? More exactly, what other point is there in it except to make Camilla, so to speak, queen-elect?

Mr. Thornton acknowledges what everybody knows, namely that Mrs. Parker Bowles lived unhappily with Mr. Parker Bowles even though they met and married only after the royal romance with Charles had begun. That romance is rather like the white cliffs of Dover, standing there resolute, athwart any disruption. It didn’t matter to Charles that Camilla married Parker Bowles. It didn’t matter to Camilla that Charles married Diana. It didn’t matter to the succession that Charles divorced Diana and resumed life with Camilla. You could have packed in the whole of Shakespeare’s royal entanglements in the princely world 1970-2005. Certainly, primacy was not given to the demands of the throne. About all that could be said of the throne was that Charles was determined to mount it, while also mounting Camilla. Nothing like primacy was given to the claims of his religion, notwithstanding that he intends to rule not only England, but also the Church of England.

Needless to say, primacy did not attach to the woman to whom, before the great altar of St. Paul’s Cathedral, he pledged eternal devotion. Pouff! All he wants to do is head up the church at which such vows are made.

Well, Michael Thornton of the Daily Mail will have none of it. He has given up hope of royal intervention. “The most distressing aspect of this pubic relations fiasco has been the passive compliance of the Queen. . . . The Queen has acquiesced like a mute and helpless spectator. In the words of the wife of one very senior courtier, she is ‘like a woman sleepwalking.’”

Although sleepwalking will not cause the queen to walk just anywhere, for instance across the street from Windsor Castle to the Guildhall, where the wedding “oath” will be administered by a woman registrar with authority to preside over what used to be called a sacrament. She is very excited at having been selected — more or less like the judge in the Middle District of Florida selected by computer to hear pleadings in the case of Terry Schiavo — to effect the wedding of Charles and Camilla.

The registrar told one bystander that she would be figuring in a historic occasion. Perhaps more than she expects. Thornton reports that a private poll reports that 81 percent of Brits are “strongly opposed” to the scheduled marriage; 89 percent object to Camilla’s assuming the title Her Royal Highness, “which was removed from Diana”; 94 percent say they would not accept her as queen.

Thornton ends his piece in high declamatory mode. “My head will not bow to Camilla Parker Bowles. Nor, I suspect, will many other British heads. And to the queen, I regretfully say, ‘I am sorry, Ma’am. I have been your loyal subject all these years, but I feel the House of Windsor has now outlived its time. After April 8, please join me as a republican.’”

How will all these events affect the Commonwealth of Nassau?

Well, Nassau is effectively sealed off from extra-island events by a post office that delivers mail only on royal holidays, and these may be scarcer, after April 8 — or such, in any event, is local speculation.

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