The Corner

Anthropological Query

The sight of Charles & Camilla in the USA put me in mind of a question that occurs to me from time to time.

In all likelihood, Charles & Camilla sleep in separate bedrooms.

Certainly this was the custom among the English aristocracy until recently. (I am out of touch; possibly things have changed.) The drill was, that when the husband wished for what Lord Curzon’s biographer called “the lighter amenities of the married state,” he would come to his wife’s room. Amenities over, he would return to his own. (To judge from _Gone With the Wind_, high-born families in the Old South practiced the same custom.) The present Queen has always maintained a bedroom separate from her husband’s, though Betty & Phil are by all accounts a loving couple, and have produced four children. The idea of husband & wife spending all night in the same bed seems, to an English Lord, amusingly proletarian, and not very hygienic.

My question is: Is there any cultural group or subgroup, other than the English aristocracy and its near kin (like Rhett and Scarlett) in which it is normal for husband and wife to sleep apart like this?

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