Since the announcement of their marriage, the principal weapon in the media agenda for constitutional change has been to blacken the character and reputation of Prince Charles, and to demonise Camilla Parker Bowles.
But neither the civil marriage nor the service in the Chapel were the disaster the media and the republicans were hoping for. Quite the contrary- the service was a great success. And Mrs Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall, has emerged from the shadows. Her position is regularised. The public saw her as an attractive woman, whose dress sense was just right both for the wedding and the service. They are also beginning to see her qualities -good humour, discretion and dignity. Both she and the Prince came across as active, caring and interesting people.And in this health conscious age they are both remarkably trim and healthy-if they were not, imagine what the journalists would have made of that! And to the great chagrin of the journalists, and the republicans ,Charles and Camilla have already won widespread acceptance. Indeed all that venom and bile were probably counter-productive. At least, I earnestly hope they were.
There could not have been a better setting for the service than the Castle and its exquisite chapel. Prince William and Harry were anything but disturbed-they were happy, indeed playful. They and their fathers’ tailor should be congratulated for finding the right balance between formal and celebratory wear, and the couturier of the Duchess ought to be knighted-she was magnificent.
Charles himself would have settled the form of the liturgy, using prayers from the pen of Thomas Crammer himself. The dramatic words of the General Confession .which go straight to the heart, resounded from the Chapel down the centuries and across the world. Charles, unlike the greater part of the Anglican clergy, understands that this liturgy, Crammers great translations and adaptations from the Roman missal, with the King James Bible, are part of the canon of the English language and are central to the great spiritual and cultural treasures of the English speaking people, whatever their religion. A future king who in this post modernistic cultural desert , not only understands and actually values this, and in addition, has the personal strength to enunciate it and to resist the pressures for change, is undoubtedly destined for greatness.
This is surely an indication, among many others , that Charles is not a slave to the intellectual fashions of our age. The service was magnificent, and it proves that much of what the media said and hoped for was wrong. The Queen did not snub the couple, as the press claimed. She gave a warm, witty and affectionate speech to wedding guests in praise of the Prince of Wales and the new Duchess of Cornwall. It will be widely interpreted as giving her full approval to their marriage.
According to the London Daily Telegraph, The Queen told the almost 800 guests that she had two important announcements to make.
The first was that Hedgehunter had won the Grand National.
The second was to welcome the heir to the Throne and his new bride to the " winner’s enclosure …They have overcome Becher’s Brook and The Chair and all kinds of other terrible obstacles, they have come through and I’m very proud and wish them well.
My son is home and dry with the woman he loves."
Jilly Cooper, the writer said that everyone was in stitches at the Queen’s speech…it was such a lovely affectionate tribute.
The Telegraph reported that Prince Charles had replied with an equally warm and appreciative speech in which he thanked "…my darling Camilla who has stood with me through thick and thin – and whose precious optimism and humour have seen me through."
The Prince regretted that his beloved Queen Mother, who died in 2002 aged 101, had not witnessed the wedding.
He specifically thanked "my dear mama" for meeting the bill for the wedding.
He also paid tribute to "my sons – they would be annoyed if I called them my children".
The Prince raised a cheer when he criticised the media for its coverage of events leading up to the wedding.
According to the Telegraph, he declaimed:
DOWN WITH THE PRESS.
And as Sophie Masson wrote in the letter I quoted in a recent column, if the republican media think they can get much mileage with the general public over this, they should get out more!
The wedding represents in many ways a victory of the monarchy over the media and the republicans. There is nothing more they can do about Charles and Camilla -but slink away.
Indeed one media organization, notorious for its republican tendencies in recent years , realized the dead end they were going down, and changed gear.
So did the Australian networks, although the public broadcaster, the ABC, compromised with a truncated broadcast. Matthew d’Ancona, writing in the London Daily Telegraph, 10 April, 2005 ,said that the BBC had evidently decided that the day would be a triumph, and hailed as such by the national broadcaster.
So there would be none of the usual sneering- this would not be a dies horribilis.
So, says d’Ancona, a succession of chattering guests and pundits cheered the heir and his new wife from the BBC couch. "The actor Richard E Grant and royal jester-in-chief Stephen Fry gripped the nation with a debate on why so few men wore toppers to weddings these days (Richard didn’t, since you ask). But then they got down to business, discussing, with thespian nonchalance, how "refreshingly old-fashioned" and completely "un-neurotic" the Duchess of Cornwall was. Just so. But in contrast to whom, one wondered? Which neurotic, fashion-plate superstar of the past could they have had in mind?"
The story demonstrates the way the media can shamelessly change gear when the penny finally drops and they realize they are out of touch.
"We had witnessed a transformation on our screens, as capricious a media turn-on-the-dime as you could hope to see – courtesy of the sturdily reliable Beeb.
Farewell, the wicked witch Camilla. Welcome, Your Royal Highness. The couple had earlier received public approval for the 33-year, on-off relationship from the Queen when she stood behind them outside St George’s Chapel and gave a definite, if hesitant, smile. Prince William and Prince Harry also looked happy and relaxed"
Now the media, British and Australian, is left without their weapon of monarchist destruction, the once demonised relationship between Charles and Camilla.
There can be no more whispering, no nasty suggestions- like so many, Charles and Camilla have married again. They will attend functions together as husband and wife and people will grow to appreciate Camilla’s discretion, warmth, dignity, good sense and good humour.
In this battle, the media and the republicans have been routed. But the war is not yet won.
The republicans would not accept defeat in the 1999 landslide, and they are not going to while they have the media and our own oath breaking politicians in support.
But now Australia’s republican movement has to move away from demoning Camilla. It now has the real slog of selling its convoluted extremely expensive plan for the Latham republic. This is such a foolish proposal that teven the ARM’s own leading politician and a member of its national executive, Liberal Senator Marise Payne, has actually condemned it!
The unfortunate thing is that some politicians are still willing to try this. So constiutionalists cannot rest.
Until next time,