That’s the titillating title royal watchers were trying out Tuesday in light of the announcement that Camilla Parker Bowles, the longtime mistress of Prince Charles, and her long-suffering husband, Andrew, were divorcing.
News of the Parker Bowles divorce caused a flurry of speculation Tuesday about whether Princess Diana and Prince Charles would follow with their own divorce and whether Camilla and Charles would ever make their relationship official. And what would that mean to his ascension to the throne as well as the future of the monarchy?
“The speculation is whether Camilla and Charles want to eventually build a life together,” said London Sun reporter Wayne Francis, who broke the Parker Bowles divorce story. “People are saying it’s another tragedy to affect the prince of Wales. King Edward VIII had to sacrifice the throne for his love for Wallis Simpson. Is Charles faced with the same choice?”
The announcement comes as a new poll shows that a majority of Queen Elizabeth II’s subjects believe that the British monarchy is doomed and will disappear in the coming century.
According to the Manchester Guardian-ICM poll, most Britons between the ages of 15 and 25 believe they will see the end of the monarchy in their lifetimes.
Simpson, divorced and an American, changed the course of British history in 1936 when King Edward VIII gave up his throne to marry her.
The Parker Bowleses’ announcement said the divorce was a mutual decision. “We have grown apart to such an extent that with the exception of our children and a lasting friendship, there is little of common interest between us and we have therefore decided to seek a divorce,” they said in a statement.
But royal watchers believed it was Andrew’s decision, either a result of anger and shame at having been so publicly cuckolded or because he has marriage plans.
While experts said Tuesday there were no constitutional barriers to stop Charles, 46, from divorcing or from marrying the love of his life, few believed he would wed Camilla, 47, because public sentiment is against it. The two have had an off and mostly on affair since 1972.
The news did not seem to help Charles on the public relations front Tuesday. “I think the people will and do hold him responsible for the breakup of her marriage,” said Harold Brooks-Baker, director of Burke’s Peerage, which keeps track of the family trees of the British upper classes.
Some said the news of the divorce could end the affair.
“If the prince of Wales continues this affair with Mrs. Parker Bowles in the immediate future it would hurt the chances of the monarchy continuing … but I don’t think that he’ll do that,” said Brooks-Baker.