April 8, 2005 — -- ABCNEWS.com users wrote in with many questions about Prince Charles' wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles and the situation in Monaco following the death of Prince Rainier III. There were too many questions to list them all. Andra Varin, who covers the royals for ABCNEWS.com, provides answers below to some of the questions that came up most often.
Charles and Camilla
Giannina in Huntsville, Ala., writes: Why in heaven's name didn't Charles marry Camilla 35 years ago? This is so stupid. and why did Camilla want Charles to marry Diana. What gives there? Diana would roll over in her grave if the rottweiler ever becomes queen. I will too!
Answer: The big reason Prince Charles and Camilla Shand, as she was then known, didn't get married in the early 1970s: He never asked her.
And there are probably a number of reasons for that. In his early 20s, like many other young men, Charles simply wasn't ready for marriage. Not long after he met Camilla, Charles went off to serve in the navy. Camilla probably thought she could wait around forever without ever getting a proposal from the prince. When Andrew Parker Bowles, a dashing cavalry officer, proposed to her, Camilla was happy to accept.
Although she later resumed her relationship with Charles, Camilla knew he would one day have to marry a young woman of aristocratic, if not royal, birth and impeccable reputation and produce royal heirs. She reportedly thought "Shy Di," as the papers dubbed Lady Diana Spencer, would fit the bill -- but not pose a threat to Camilla's hold on the prince.
Greg in Orlando, Fla., writes: In 1936 King Edward VIII wanted to marry the divorced Wallis Simpson. The crisis which followed compelled him to abdicate in order to marry her. Yet, currently, unidentified MPs say constitutionally, divorced Camilla would become queen automatically, even if she and Charles entered into a morganatic marriage. What has changed between then and now?
Answer: What's changed? Society. In 1936, divorce carried a stigma that's hard to grasp today. People who had been divorced -- even if they were the "innocent" party -- were not received at court. In some circles, to get a divorce was tantamount to social suicide.
And as society has changed, the Church of England's stance has softened somewhat. It now allows a divorced person to be remarried in the church under certain circumstances. Charles and Camilla don't meet the requirements, so they are having a civil ceremony. But the church's highest prelate, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, plans to bless their marriage after the civil ceremony. When Edward VIII fell for Wallis, and later when Princess Margaret wanted to marry the divorced Group Capt. Peter Townsend, the archbishop at the time did not approve.
Finally, morganatic marriage never really caught on in England. And when these marriages did occur in European royal families, they usually were problematic. In a morganatic marriage, a person of royal or noble rank was allowed to marry someone of inferior rank, but that person couldn't share the title, and any children of the marriage, although legitimate, couldn't inherit. The Battenbergs -- the family of Prince Philip's mother (they later anglicized it to Mountbatten) -- were descended from a morganatic marriage, and in the 19th century other royals sometimes sneered at them as half-breeds.
So Charles and Camilla are getting married, period. Nothing morganatic about it. So there's no legal reason why Camilla Parker Bowles could be denied Prince Charles' titles once she becomes his wife. She's said she wants to be known as Duchess of Cornwall, not Princess of Wales, but both titles will automatically be hers, whether she chooses to use them or not.
Haimatbruecke in Denmark writes: I like to know the birthday of Camilla.
Answer: Camilla Parker Bowles, née Shand, was born July 17, 1947. Prince Charles was born Nov. 14, 1948. Although Camilla has often been portrayed as much older or as a "maternal" figure for Charles, she is just a year and a half older than he is. That's not very motherly.
Cathy asks: If Diana were still alive, could Charles remarry? In a church?
Answer: If Diana were still alive, Charles could remarry, because they were legally divorced. But he couldn't do it in an Anglican church. The Church of England says that in some extreme circumstances a divorced person may remarry in the church even when the ex-spouse is still living, but Charles and Camilla probably wouldn't meet its criteria. Diana's death technically would free Charles to marry in the church, but his intended, Camilla Parker Bowles, is a divorcée whose first husband is still living. So they're having a civil ceremony.
Faith in the Philippines asks: How does the two princes feel about the marriage -- Prince William and Harry -- and will they live together with the two princes?
Answer: Prince William and Prince Harry issued a statement saying they were "delighted" by their father's plan to marry Mrs. Parker Bowles. William will be his father's witness at the civil ceremony; Camilla's son, Tom Parker Bowles, will be hers. There have been several published reports hinting that Harry is secretly not so thrilled, mindful of how his mother felt about Camilla.
In any event, William is 22 and in his last year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Harry, 20, plans to enter Sandhurst, the British equivalent of West Point, so it's not like the young princes are home a lot. Camilla has been a constant presence at Clarence House, Charles' London home, and Highgrove, his country estate, for some time, so it's not like it will be a sudden shock for them to have her around.
Jane in Montgomery, Ala., writes: Is there any speculation that Charles' ancestor might have fathered the children of his mistress thus making Charles and Camilla second cousins? Everyone has been careful to say that Camilla's children were not fathered by Charles but really now not every minute of his time in the navy can be accounted for. Camilla is shrewd and bides her time. I will bet that one if not both of her children are Charles', Charles is the godfather to Tom and otherwise why would Charles recently set up trusts for Camilla's children who are adults, work and have a living father?
Answer: There's no evidence that Camilla's children were fathered by anyone other than her former husband, Andrew Parker Bowles. Charles is Tom Parker Bowles' godfather, but then the prince has a lot of godchildren, so nothing should be read into that. It has been reported that the prince has set up generous trusts for Tom and Laura Parker Bowles, but that's probably just a sign that Charles is fond of his future stepchildren and wants to please their mother.
As for the question of whether Camilla, like Charles, might be descended from King Edward VII: It's possible. Camilla's great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, was Edward VII's mistress. Sonia Keppel (Camilla's grandmother) was born after her mother became involved with the monarch, but most historians think she really was fathered by Mrs. Keppel's husband. (Sonia is said to have borne a strong resemblance to George Keppel, and certainly the king never treated her like his daughter.) However, if Sonia was the king's daughter, that would make Camilla and Charles second cousins once removed.
Greyfeather in South Dakota writes: Why should Camilla be given a title? I don't think that she deserves it, because she just made a fool of herself by relentlessly chasing after Charles. If I were to do something like that, I would consider myself a shameless hussy, and not show myself anywhere. How embarrassing.
Answer: In all fairness to Camilla, I'd say Charles chased her just as much as she chased him. She gets a title because there's no legal reason to deny her one (see above). And once she's remarried, it wouldn't be appropriate to keep calling her Mrs. Parker Bowles. She will be known as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall.
Vernam Minnis in the Bahamas writes: Should the Queen have given Prince Charles and his sweetheart permission to marry considering that she (Camilla) was partly responsible for the marriage of her son to Diana Princess of Wales ending in divorce? Over my dead body would I have given permission! Furthermore, she should be called Mrs. Charles Winslow. Camilla should not be given a royal name of any kind!
Answer: Polls show a lot of Britons agree with you that Camilla shouldn't get a title. But since Charles' title isn't "Mr.," it wouldn't be accurate to call Camilla "Mrs. Charles Windsor." She could be styled "Princess Charles," of course -- just like Princess Michael of Kent, who is married to a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. But to modern ears, anyway, that sounds rather odd.
As for whether Queen Elizabeth II should have withheld her permission, a lot of people agree with you there too. But perhaps she felt that it would be better for Charles and Camilla to marry instead of living together. When Princess Anne, who divorced her first husband, married Timothy Laurence, the queen attended the Church of Scotland ceremony. She might have felt that if she allowed one of her children to remarry, she should allow another to do the same, whatever the circumstances.
Marian says: Throughout the history of England, there have been various spouses given title of Prince (or Princess) Consort. Albert, Philip, to name a few. I don't recall why they were given Prince title when they married their Queens?
Answer: In England, the husband of a queen regnant (meaning she rules is her own right) normally is known by the title of "prince." The theory is that calling him "king" would imply that he had power equal to or over that of the queen. True, when Queen Mary I (reigned 1153-58) married Prince Philip of Spain, he was often called King Philip. But the English people never really took to it. When Queen Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, she gave him the title of "prince consort," and probably would have made him "King Albert" if Parliament would have gone along with it. Incidentally, Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, does not have the title "prince consort." Although he gave up his titles of prince of Greece and Denmark when he married Elizabeth, and he has the style of His Royal Highness as a prince of the United Kingdom. His title is Duke of Edinburgh.
William in Yonkers, N.Y., wants to know: What would happen to the Crown and its monker of "Defender of the Faith" if a future king or queen were an atheist or, had stated openly and publicly that he/she only attend services as a bow to tradition and not because they truly believed?
Answer: That is a very good question, but not an easy one to answer. The constitutional experts in Britain would be debating it for a long time, and it would be especially difficult because Britain's constitution isn't written. However, it's important to remember that English monarchs didn't start using the title "Defender of the Faith" until Henry VIII in the 16th century -- and he was initially given that moniker by the pope for defending Catholicism against Protestant "heresies." Prince Charles once suggested that, as Anglicanism is not the only religion in the United Kingdom, the sovereign should perhaps be known as "Defender of Faith" (instead of "the Faith"). That didn't go anywhere.
Leenaali asks: Prince William of Britain has a girlfriend who is a part-time model. Is there any possibility that she is going to be the next princess? Or the next princess must be an aristocratic girl?
Answer: Like William, Kate Middleton, 22, is a student at the University of St. Andrews. She recently joined William, Prince Harry and Prince Charles on a skiing holiday at Klosters, a Swiss resort. Her family is upper middle-class, not aristocratic, but that would not be a bar to her marrying William. However, William recently said he's too young to get married and doesn't plan to be following his father to the altar any time soon.
Barbara in Folsom wants to know: Did Camilla have plastic surgery? She looks better.
Answer: She certainly does look better, but it's due to several subtle changes made over time. Camilla was always into the natural look, which meant she was photographed a lot of times with no makeup and in casual clothes. But over the past few years, she appears to have lost weight and to have had her teeth capped and whitened. She's dressing a lot better, in colors designed to flatter her, and she's wearing soft makeup that really helps her skin look younger. Plus, Prince Charles has given her some pretty nice jewels, which make anyone look great.
Leenaali asks: If Prince Albert II died without having any children, who is going to be the next prince of Monaco? Is he one of his sisters' children?
Answer: If Prince Albert II, who isn't married, never has any children, the next ruler would be his elder sister, Princess Caroline. If Caroline had predeceased Albert, or decided to give up her right to the throne, it would go to her oldest son, Andrea Casiraghi. Monaco's succession goes by primogeniture, with preference given to males. That means the ruler's sons would inherit first, in order of their birth. If there are no boys in the family, the throne goes to the oldest daughter.
After Andrea (assuming he has no children by this time), the next in line would be his younger brother, Pierre Casiraghi, then their sister, Charlotte Casiraghi, and their half-sister, Princess Alexandra of Hanover. After all Princess Caroline's children and their heirs are exhausted, the succession would got to Prince Albert's younger sister, Princess Stephanie, and then her children.
Diane in Buffalo, N.Y., asks: If the rules changed in 2002 who was to become the next ruler after Prince Rainier? The throne goes to Albert now, who would have gotten it if the rules did not change?
Answer: Albert, since birth, has been the heir to the principality, but until 2002 the situation was a little tricky. The constitution said only direct heirs of the ruling prince could inherit. That meant that if Albert, who is a bachelor, succeeded to the throne but never had children, Monaco would become a protectorate of France on his death. In 2002, Prince Rainier had the constitution amended to provide that if the ruling prince dies without direct heirs, power can pass to his siblings and then their children. Albert has two sisters, and they each have children, so there's now no danger of running out of heirs.
Lauren in Atlanta says: With the recent press of Prince Rainier's death, his family name of Garibaldi has been used often. Why is this not the case with the royal family?
Answer: The royal family of Monaco's name is Grimaldi, not Garibaldi. The Grimaldis have ruled in Monaco for 700 years. In Britain, the House of Windsor rules. Maybe it seems that you don't hear it very often because people who are directly in line for throne generally don't use a last name -- they don't need to. However, Prince Edward, the queen's youngest son, has a young daughter known as Lady Louise Windsor.
Charlotte in Houston asks: Why didn't Prince Rainier become King Rainier when he assumed the throne as a youth. In England, Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II when she assumed the throne. I do not understand the titles being so different.
Answer: Monaco is a principality, not a kingdom, so its ruler is a prince, not a king. In Monaco, the ruling prince is styled His Serene Highness, or HSH -- which is a considered a step below HRH (His or Her Royal Highness). Monaco's lower ranking probably has a lot to do with its size and the fact that although it is an independent state, it has in the past been a protectorate of both France and Spain.
Willy in Miami asks: Is Prince Albert gay?
Answer: There's been a lot of speculation about that, but Albert says he is not gay. He has been linked romantically with a number of beautiful women, including supermodel Claudia Schiffer. But as long as he remains single, some people will probably continue to speculate.