The debate over the appropriateness of a possible marriage between Charles and Camilla raged back and forth throughout 2004.
Could a future head of the Church of England marry a divorcee – something that had caused so much trouble for the royal family in the 1930s?
Could the Church allow a future king who had admitted adultery to have a second marriage?
According to author Tina Brown, clergy opinion began to change in November in favor of the speculated marriage.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey declared it a “natural thing”.
Still, Brown writes, it seems to have been an “annoying social incident” rather than canonical opinion that finally led Charles to propose.
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles at Windsor Castle in February 2005, the day they announced their engagement
Prince Charles and Princess Diana with their bridesmaids and page boys along with members of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on their wedding day in July 1981
Edward van Cutsem’s wedding to Lady Tamara Grovesnor was the society wedding of the year. But godfather Prince Charles was missing from the big day
The occasion was the wedding between Edward Van Cutsem, son of family friends, and the daughter of the Duke of Westminster at Chester Cathedral.
Edward, a godson of Charles, had been a page at his wedding to Diana.
It was declared the social wedding of the year. with guests including Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Charles and Camilla and William and Harry.
“Charles and Camilla were informed of the seating plans the weekend before the wedding,” Brown writes in her bestselling book The Palace Papers.
“The arrangements resulted in Ms. Parker Bowles being pushed to the social margins of the event.”
Camilla, she writes, had expected to sit directly behind Charles, who would be next to the Queen and Philip at the head.
“But no, that “Dutch cow,” as Camilla supposedly called her [mother of the groom] Emilie Van Cutsem had held her on the other side of the cathedral with the bride’s friends at the back and told her that she was not allowed to enter or leave through the main entrance.’
A courtier told the Daily Mail at the time that this had “driven Camilla crazy”.
Claiming that she was following protocol, Ms. Van Cutsem refused to upgrade Camilla—and Camilla, Brown writes, “refused to be understanding.”
“She would not allow herself to be humiliated in front of Charles’ snooty circles and, more importantly, in front of the royal family.”
“The prince had to decide whether he wanted to go to the wedding without her or snub his closest friends and his godson.”
“It was Camilla’s line in the sand.”
Fortunately, a solution presented itself. On the day of the wedding, Charles had to visit the barracks at Warminster in Wiltshire to meet the families of the Black Watch soldiers. Three members of the regiment were killed in a suicide bombing in Iraq.
This is where Camilla’s 87-year-old father, Major Bruce Shand, comes into the story, according to royal biographer Penny Junor.
Junor writes in The Duchess: The Untold Story.
“Although he loved the prince very much, he considered him weak and worried about how vulnerable he had made Camilla by leaving her to live in limbo.”
The late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were also among the guests
Prince William and Prince Harry, close friends of the van Custem children, served as ushers at Chester Cathedral
The newlyweds Ewdard van Cutsem and Lady Tamara Grosvenor photographed their wedding on November 6, 2004
Camilla presents her engagement ring as she and Prince Charles arrive at a party at Windsor Castle after announcing their engagement on February 10, 2005
Camilla Parker Bowles’ children Tom and Laura Parker Bowles stand with their father Major Bruce Shand after the civil wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla in April 2005
“He took the prince aside and said, “I want to meet my maker because I know my daughter is well.”
Charles listened and took note of what he had to say. He admitted that this was a nonsensical and insulting stance for Camilla to take and found it deeply disturbing, as others had also suggested.
After all, she had no status without marriage – and Charles knew he had to make it up to her.
He proposed to Camilla on his knees for the New Year.