Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Question from Nikki - Catholicism and the current Prince of Wales


I know this isn't Tudor related, but I don't know who else to ask. Is Camilla Parker Bowles still Roman Catholic? Andrew Parker Bowles was Catholic and their children were raised as Catholics.

I know that the King cannot be married to a Catholic, so I am guessing that Camilla denounced her Catholic faith before marrying Charles?

Why didn't they have an official wedding within the Church of England instead of the small blessing at St. George's Chapel? Seems to me like the King of England would want it to be as official as possible!

[Ed. note - I generally shy away from modern Royal Family topics, but since the roots of this one go back a ways, I decided to go ahead and post it.]



16 Comments:

Anonymous PhD Historian said...

Though Camilla married a Roman Catholic and their children were raised Roman Catholic, I am not aware that she was ever cathechized and confirmed as a Roman Catholic herself. However, under the Act of Settlement (1701), in order for Charles to retain his position in the royal succession, Camilla must have been non-Catholic at the time of their marriage in 2005. Whether that was because she never became Catholic in the first place or later renounced that faith, I do not know. I suspect the former.

The legal marriage ceremony itself was a civil one held in the village of Windsor, followed by a religious blessing of the union at St George's Chapel. Charles' mother, the Queen, attended the religious service but not the civil one. The reason for solemnizing the marriage by civil rather than a religious service ... and the Queen's absence from the civil event ... has to do with the official position of the Church of England regarding divorce. The Church does not recognize civil divorces, only canonical ones ... and those only rarely (much like the RC Church). Charles never sought a canonical divorce from Diana. Despite Diana's death several years earlier, Charles was not eligible under Church law to remarry within the Church.

A similar situation arose when Charles' sister Anne remarried in 1992. Anne and her second husband, Timothy Laurence, were wed in the Church of Scotland, not the Church of England, because Anne was divorced earlier that same year from her first husband, whom she had married in the Church of England.

While Charles' marriage to Camilla is legal and "official" under British civil law, the Church of England does not officially recognize the marriage as canonically valid. Because the monarch is simultaneously Supreme Head of the Church of England, there is some debate whether Camilla can or will ever be crowned Queen Consort of England alongside Charles (assuming he ever becomes King). Many argue that it is not constitutionally possible, while others cite the unwritten and adaptable nature of the British constitution to argue that Camilla will one day be a full Queen Consort. At present, because there is some question, and in a nod to both those constitutional concerns and public relations issues, Camilla is styled "HRH the Duchess of Cornwall and Rothesay" rather than "Princess of Wales."

September 10, 2008 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

I don't know if Camilla is a Catholic or not, but I do know they couldn't be married in the Church because they were both divorced. (I'm not sure if Diana's death changed Charles' status at all, but Camilla's ex was still alive.)

It's kind of pathetic -- the future head of the church can't get married in the church! Somehow I don't think that would have stopped Henry. *LOL*

September 10, 2008 10:51 PM  
Anonymous Nikki said...

I still find it weird that the future King of England is not legally married in his own church! (It's a bit hypocritical.) It's in his coronation oath to uphold the values and teachings of the Church of England, and he himself didn't even legally get married within that church. If the King doesn't even follown HIS OWN church rules, what's the public to do? Maybe this will be a turning point in the monarchy to allow other religions to marry into the family. That would open up a whole other can of worms...

I just assumed that Camilla was Catholic since her husband and children were. That's why I was curious to see if she converted, to make the marriage "legal." Guess that is just another problem thrown in with all this other mess! haha

When Charles divorced Diana, why wouldn't he seek a canonical divorce? He knew what his future was and I would think he'd want to make any marriage as legal as possible, in the eyes of his people.

The Queen Consort issue will be interesting to see. Princess of Wales is one of her titles, but like you said, for PR reasons, she is commonly known as The Duchess of Cornwall. I'm wondering if they'll pull something off to make her Queen Consort. I am still not a big Camilla fan. The adultrey that is "ignored" within the royal family circle is unbelieveable to me. I know it's been done for hundreds of years, but that still doesn't make it acceptable. She's more accepted by the public now than she used to be, but I am still not sure that they will be able to accept her as Queen.

September 11, 2008 7:40 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth M. said...

Since the English Church does not recognize the marriage, does that technically make Charles a bigamist in the eyes of the Church? Would he have to seek a canonical divorce from Diane, even though she is deceased,in order to be crowned when and if the time comes? Though it is highly unlikely, if there were ever children of the union of Charles and Camilla, what would be their place be in the succession, and would the parents' non-marital status within the Church effect them?

September 11, 2008 10:41 AM  
Blogger kb said...

Since Charles did not marry Camilla till after Diana's death, under the church of England he is a widower and free to re-marry. Same with Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. By the time he married Jane, he was a widower.

She however, still has a living husband. That's a problem.

September 11, 2008 3:28 PM  
Anonymous PhD Historian said...

I had forgotten to tackle the whole issue of Camilla being a divorcee. Thank you, Kathy, for pointing out that Camilla's husband is still living. Now that I think about it, that is/was certainly the greater impediment to Charles and Camilla being wed in the Church of England. Diana's death did change Charles' status, as it made him a widower. That may have superceded, at least in the eyes of the church, his prior status as a divorcee. So perhaps it was solely Camilla's divorced status that prevented a church marriage.

Nikki, I think you misunderstand the relationship between the monarch and the Church of England. The Church of England is not "his own church." The monarch is merely the head of the Church, much as the monarch is also the head of state. Both "head-ships" are largely by title only, and have little basis in practical reality. He/she may "advise and counsel" the elected and appointed leaders of each institution (the Prime Minister and Archbishop of Canterbury), but he/she does not dictate policy or control day-to-day operations of either. And the monarch is subject to the law of the land as well as to the perceived law of God. In matters of divorce, the Church of England, through its bishops and synods, long ago determined that it is contrary to the law of God, except in certain special circumstances. Thus Charles was not able even to seek a canonical divorce because his separation from Diana was not grounded in any of the special circumstances recognized by the Church of England. Simply "falling out of love" or "incompatibility" is not considered grounds for canonical divorce. Neither is adultery. Canonical divorce is reserved for cases that involve, for example, serious deception when contracting the marriage (one party lying about previous marriages, for example), a too-close biological relationship between the partners (i.e., consanguinity), and other similar extreme issues.

Let's be very clear: "Princess of Wales" is NOT one of Camilla's titles. That title can be granted only by the monarch; it is never "automatic" upon marriage. And for PR reasons, the queen chose NOT to grant the title to Camilla, though she did make her an HRH (which, again, only the monarch can do if the person was not born to that status). The title "Princess of Wales" confers a status that gives the holder precedence over all women in the realm except the monarch, or in the case of a male monarch, that monarch's wife-queen. Thus Diana had precedence above Anne (The Princess Royal) and above the wife of Prince Andrew ("Fergie" was "only" HRH the Duchess of York). Camilla, as simply HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, holds precedence BELOW Princess Anne. She is, however, above Sophie, HRH the Countess of Wessex and wife of Prince Edward. These issues of precedence may seem silly to you and I, but they are hugely important to the Crown and the Royal Household and royal establishment. Camilla is, to coin a phrase, being "kept in her place" by limiting her titles and thus the status that goes with those titles. She is a royal Duchess; she is NOT a princess.

Charles is not a bigamist in the eyes of the Church since Diana is now dead. One can be a bigamist only if one has more than one living wife.

The coronation issue is an interesting one. I do not believe there is any constitutional impediment prohibiting the crowning of a divorced person. George IV had two living wives at the time of his own coronation, though the legality of his first marriage was mired in controversy. I do not foresee any problem with Charles being crowned eventually (assuming he outlives his mother and ever inherits the crown himself). If I recall correctly, when Charles married Camilla there was rumor of an informal understanding within the royal establishment that Camilla will not be put forward as Queen Consort, and that she will instead remain as Duchess of Cornwall when Charles becomes king, or perhaps be granted some innovative new title that will confer increased precedence without making her queen. But as Nikki notes, she is more accepted by the general public now than she was some years ago. Assuming the queen lives another 10-15 years, it is entirely possible that the memory of Diana will have faded sufficiently to enable the public to accept Camilla as Queen Consort. I have no doubt in my own mind that Charles is counting on that (as is Camilla). Regardless, Camilla will always enjoy a level of deference, if perhaps not an order of precedence in ceremonial processions, appropriate to her position as the wife of the king.

At 61, Camilla is certainly post-menopausal and unable to bear additional children. It is my personal belief that her inability to bear further children is one reason why the marriage was allowed to go forward in the first place. But were she and Charles to have children, those children would probably enter the line of succession immediately after William and Harry ... though I am sure that a few consitutional legalists would have to be consulted first, since there is no precedent in modern English royal history.

Lastly, I wonder, Nikki, if you might be American and not British? Americans are far more judgmental about sexual issues than are Europeans. We Americans tend to be extremely puritanical when it comes to issues such as adultery. The British, at least the "upper class" British, are far less so. The taking of mistresses, though perhaps not "common," certainly does not occasion among the British upper classes the kind of moral outrage that it does among average Americans. As long as the affair does not create a public scandal, it is usually left as a private matter between the spouses. Only when it becomes tabloid fodder, as with Charles, Diana, and Camilla or Princess Margaret and Roddy Llewellyn or Fergie and Steve Wyatt, do the British upper classes suddenly adopt an attitude of outrage. But the outrage is over the public scandal, not the affair itself. It has even been rumored that the queen's husband, Prince Phillip, has had a mistress or two over the decades.

Apologies for the length of this, but this is an area that I specialize in.

September 11, 2008 5:05 PM  
Blogger kb said...

phd historian makes good points regarding precedence etc.

From a PR stand point - There is no way Camilla would want to compete with the memory of Diana. Becoming princess of wales would force comparisons that would not be good for anyone including Wills and Harry.

However, legalizing the relationship between Charles and Camilla is smart. This is clearly a relationship of long standing that is not going away.Better to have a civil service (legal marriage) and a church blessing than to continue 'living in sin'. Especially if Charles does one day become king.

I thought it was all very well done.

September 11, 2008 9:35 PM  
Anonymous Nikki said...

I mis-typed, sorry! I know that the monarch doesn't "make up" the rules of the Church of England. But...isn't it in coronation oath to uphold these values? I just think it sounds like he's finding ways to wiggle around the rules of the church that he's supposed to be a part of. I'm sure he doesn't think like this, but to me it sounds like he's thinking "I will be King of England, so I'll just create a new Act in Parliament to get what I want, because I can!" If Charles becomes King, I feel like they will persuade Parliament to change the rules so Camilla can become Queen Consort if her ex-husband is still alive.

Thanks for explaining the canonical divorce, I didn't know what the difference was.

Princess of Wales is listed as one of Camilla's official titles, as referenced on Wikipedia. (I am very aware that Wiki is NOT a reliable source, but it references the official Prince of Wales website as the source, which is why I mentioned it.) Wiki lists her official title as "Her Royal Highness The Princess Charles Philip Arthur George, Princess of Wales and Countess of Chester, Duchess of Cornwall, Duchess of Rothesay, Countess of Carrick, Baroness of Renfrew, Lady of the Isles, Princess of Scotland." I thought that the wife of Charles legally gets his titles, minus any orders that he has been given. I did know that this title would give Camilla precedence over all women in the realm except the monarch. That's why I was curious as to why she would hold the title Princess of Wales if The Queen wasn't too thrilled with them getting married in the first place! I also read that she will not become Queen Consort when Charles becomes King, she will remain Duchess of Cornwall.

I am an American, how can you tell? haha It just baffles me that the monarchy has ignored affairs for hundreds of years. It's a way of life to them, like they're condoning it. "It's ok, just keep it quiet and don't make a mess of it." I have heard that Prince Phillip has had mistresses. It's just horrible to think that The Queen just acts like nothing is going on. But then again, like you say, the British aren't as judgemental as we are. They've come to accept it as a fact of life. I guess I just took my marriage vows a bit more seriously than they did!

Thank you phd historian for your answers! I look forward to hearing your expertise on all these questions. This board is great. I have gotten into Tudor history within the past year and I just want to read and research all that I can. Does anyone know if a blog that has to do with the House of Windsor?

September 11, 2008 9:39 PM  
Blogger kb said...

From the official Prince of Wales site

'It is intended that The Duchess of Cornwall will use the title HRH The Princess Consort when The Prince of Wales accedes to The Throne.'

This from the wedding media kit.

I didn't find anywhere on the official Prince of Wales site with a longer list of titles for Camilla. Full list for Charles of course, including all the historical precedents for the granting of such like earl of Carrick, etc.

http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/
Even sourced items on wikipedia ay be misleading.

September 12, 2008 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

As David Starkey has said many times, the consort of a reigning British king is his queen, call her what you will, and it is generally understood here that it will be the wish of Prince Charles that his wife be accepted as such when the time comes.

Starkey (whose very smart Jaguar has the number plate HEN VIII) also points out at regular intervals the fact that they had a civil ceremony raises the question of whether they are legally married, since senior members of the Royal Family are specifically excluded from the provisions of the Marriages Acts of 1836 and 1949. Until 2005 this was always interpreted as meaning forbidden to have a civil marriage, but with some nifty manipulation of interpretation we were told that what it really meant was they were excluded because they are, in effect, above the law, which is nonsense. When this failed to do the trick they played the Human Rights card. Surely at some stage this will have to be resolved.

Marilyn

From The Guardian newspaper 24th February 2005:

The Lord Chancellor resorted to the Human Rights Act yesterday to argue that the forthcoming marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles would be legal.

As controversy continued over the legality of the civil union and the absence of the Queen from the ceremony, Lord Falconer issued an emergency statement explaining why the government believed the marriage would not breach the law.
The 1836 Marriage Act prevents any senior royal from marrying in a civil ceremony and legal opinion has been divided over whether the 1949 Marriage Act repeals this part of the legislation.

Dipping in and out of the 1836 and 1949 statutes for his argument, he waited until the end of his statement to pull the Human Rights Act from the legal canon as a final weapon.
"We also note that the Human Rights Act has since 2000 required legislation to be interpreted wherever possible in a way that is compatible with the right to marry (article 12) and with the right to enjoy that right without discrimination (article 14)," he said.
"This, in our view, puts the modern meaning of the 1949 act beyond doubt."

But Sir Nicholas Lyell QC, a former attorney general, labelled the argument "tenuous".
He said there was still a need for the government to introduce a short bill to clarify the legality of the marriage.
"The Human Rights Act 1998 does help but it is an unsatisfactory state of affairs when the legality of the marriage of the Prince of Wales has to depend on that.”

September 12, 2008 2:14 PM  
Anonymous PhD Historian said...

Nikki, yes, there is a section of the Coronation Oath established by Act of Parliament in 1689 that deals specifically with religion: "Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the gospel and the Protestant reformed religion established by law, and will you preserve unto the bishops and clergy of this Realm, and to the churches committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do or shall appertain unto them, or any of them?" The monarch is to answer "Yes" to this question from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

However, Charles is known to have issues with the position of the Church of England as "the" official state church (and perhaps with some of its doctrines). Several years ago, there was a small media dust-up when he off-handedly commented that the royal style and title should be changed to "Defender of Faith" rather than Defender of THE faith." Charles is more ecumenical in outlook than the rest of the royal establishment. So yes, I tend to agree with you that, when and if the time comes, he may try to find a way for Camilla to become Queen Consort. But I do not believe an act of Parliament is required. It can be done through the Privy Council, which still exists.

Wikipedia is simply wrong with regard to Camilla and the title "Princess of Wales." It is true that any woman marrying any titled man automatically acquires the female equivalent of his title, at least under normal circumstances. The wife of a marquess automatically becomes a marchioness, the wife of an earl becomes a countess, etc. The exceptions are very rare. And the wife of a prince has, until recently, usually become a princess (e.g., Prince and Princess Michael of Kent). That practice was deliberately ended with the queen's children. I point out again the examples of Charles' brothers and their wives. Andrew is still officially "HRH The Prince Andrew," although he is also secondarily the Duke of York. During his marriage, his wife Sarah was never "Princess Sarah," however. She was simply "HRH The Duchess of York." Together they were Prince and Duchess. Same thing with Edward. They are "HRH The Prince Edward and HRH Sophie, The Countess of Wessex." The titles Prince and Princess are now reserved solely for use by the direct biological descendants of the monarch, and then only to the second generation. The exception is Anne, whose children, Peter and Zara, bear no title whatsoever, not even Lord or Lady (that was by Anne's choice).

The matter is further complicated by the nature of the title "Prince of Wales." Charles was born "Prince Charles" by virtue of being the monarch's son. But he was not born "Prince of Wales." That title must be specifically granted sometime after birth through Letters Patent of creation signed by the monarch. Charles did not become Prince of Wales until July 1969, at the age of 20. His son William is not "William, Prince of Wales," since there can be only one. And if Charles dies before his mother, William will never become or inherit the title Prince of Wales, since the title is given only to the eldest son of the monarch. (More than you wanted to know? LOL) Thus the whole issue of Camilla being or not being "Princess of Wales" is hugely complicated and not as simple as another woman marrying a non-royal duke and automatically becoming a duchess. In simplest terms, the Crown is the source of all titles and honors, and if the Crown (i.e., the Royal Household and royal establishment) does not recognize Camilla as "Princess of Wales," then she is NOT "The Princess of Wales," regardless of to whom she might now be married.

Thanks, KB, for the note regarding Camilla's intended future title. It appears that they are going to follow the modern precendents set by Victoria with her husband Albert and, to a much lesser extent, that of Elizabeth with her husband Phillip. Albert was created (i.e., given the official title) "Prince Consort" in 1857, fully 17 years after their marriage and 20 years after Victoria had become queen. Philip's offical style and title for the first 5 years of Elizabeth's reign was simply "HRH The Duke of Edinburgh," though he was finally created "Prince" (but not "Prince Consort") in 1957. Following those precedents, Camilla will apparently one day be created a Princess through Letters Patent and then perhaps granted the official style and title "Princess Consort," the female equivalent of Albert's official title "Prince Consort."

September 12, 2008 3:11 PM  
Anonymous PhD Historian said...

Thanks, Marilyn for pointing out that fascinating news article. I am not a Charles and Camilla fan (let William be king!), so I was not aware of the Marriages Act controversy. And of course you are 100% correct that the members of the Royal Family are not above the law! But the whole issue can easily be resolved by a private Act of Parliament declaring their marriage fully legally valid. Though I am not aware of any private bills being introduced on behalf of the royal family since the Pain and Penalties Bill of 1820 (related to George IV's dispute with his wife, Queen Caroline), the option still exists and could be used.

I have to disagree (as I often do) with Dr Snarkey. Styles and Titles are a legal matter and they are established and maintained by mechanisms of law. However much Camilla may eventually be TREATED as queen, she will not BE "Queen" unless some legal mechanism is found to elevate her to that legally defined dignity.

September 12, 2008 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

phd historian (and anyone else): can you recommend any books that explain or deal with all the Crown's titles and traditions, etc. as well as other issues pertaining to the peerage? I find the whole system equal parts odd and fascinating, and I would love to come even slightly close to the level of knowledge of royal history that phd historian has.

Thanks,

kate

September 12, 2008 8:05 PM  
Anonymous PhD Historian said...

Thanks for the kind words, but I must confess that my knowledge of royal history is very much a work in progress. And the result of 30 years of both part-time and full-time study. I still have a great deal to learn, and I am often corrected by other readers on this site.

I am not aware of any single volume that offers the wide range of coverage that you seek ... royal history, titles and honors, traditions, and other issues pertaining to the peerage more generally. Given a little time, I can provide a list of several (many) books that deal with various narrow aspects of the topic, though.

Hmmm ... maybe that is yet another good book-writing idea that readers of this site have given me! Thank you!

September 12, 2008 9:58 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth M. said...

Does the "Crown Matrimonial" still exist in some form and when was it last used? I know in Tudor times, Mary of Scotland refused to grant Lord Darnley, her husband, the Crown Matrimonial, and Mary Tudor did not give Philip of Spain the Crown Matrimonial. I am fuzzy on it, but I gather it was a means of a female monarch giving her spouse as much power and rights as a sovereign as she would herself have, one reason the two Marys were so reluctant to give this to their husbands, who were less than reticent about wanting to wild power. If the Crown Matrimonial still exists in some form, could Charles use it in some form to legally grant Camilla the right to be Queen in name only?

September 13, 2008 12:12 PM  
Anonymous PhD Historian said...

"The Crown Matrimonial" is an often misunderstood term or title because it has never been used in British history. By strictest legal definition, it is used to describe the crown passing laterally to the surviving spouse of a newly-deceased monarch, without that spouse having previously been co-monarch. If, for example, Elizabeth II died tomorrow and Prince Philip became king instead of Charles, we would say that Philip inherited The Crown Matrimonial. But British constitutional law related to the monarchy does not allow for spousal inheritance of the crown, so it will never happen in the UK.

The term is often mis-used in relation to a woman succeeding to the crown as the rightful heir, then afterward granting to her husband (who was NOT a rightful heir) the full rights, powers, and dignity of a monarch. In essence, the female heir and her non-heir husband become co-monarchs. But this situation cannot properly be called "The Crown Matrimonial." Instead, the husband and wife are "Co-Monarchs," "Co-Regent" or "Co-Regnant."

The last time in British history that a comparable situation occured was the accession of William and Mary in 1689. But technically, though they ruled as Co-Monarchs, they did not "inherit" since James II was, in essence, deposed. William was actually invited by several nobles to invade England with an army and to seize the crown for himself, as husband of James's rightful female heir. William did so in a bloodless coup. He and Mary ruled together from the outset and at the invitation of Parliament; Mary did not inherit first and afterward elevate her husband to co-monarch. And most importantly, because William had initially been invited to seize the throne for himself alone, he continued to reign alone and in his own right for over 7 years after his wife's death in 1694. And because he was king in his own right by Act of Parliament prior to Mary's death, he cannot be said to have "inherited the crown matrimonial."

Mary I (Tudor) offers the only other English example of co-monarchs, and the reign of Mary and Philip is also sometimes incorrectly described with the term Crown Matrimonial. Mary inherited the crown in July 1553 as the rightful heir of Edward VI. She ruled for almost a year as sole monarch before marrying Philip in 1554. After the marriage, the reign became known officially as "The Reign of King Philip and Queen Mary of England." But Philip was king in name only, essentially. Parliament had severely limited his power as a pre-condition of the marriage, and he lost the title of King of England upon the death of his wife in 1558. Thus Philip cannot correctly be described as having held the Crown Matrimonial.

I am not sufficiently familiar with Scottish constitutional law and history related to the monarchy, so I cannot say whether Darnley was seeking the status of co-monarch during and after his wife's reign or the actual right to inherit the crown in his own right and to rule as a monarch only in the event of Mary Stuart's death. If, and only if, Darnley was content to be simply the royal consort during Mary's lifetime and to become king only after her death (instead of James VI) could Darnley be said to hold the Crown Matrimonial (though of course in the end he pre-deceased Mary). I believe, however, that he wanted to be co-monarch during his wife's lifetime, which means he could never have been described as holding the Crown Matrimonial.

As you can probably deduce from the above, the Crown Matrimonial cannot and will not be used in relation to Camilla. There is simply no way that she could ever inherit the crown in her own right from Charles and before or in place of William. Nor is it likely that Camilla could ever be named co-monarch to rule jointly with Charles, since that would require an Act of Parliament and would be unprecedented in English and British history (only men have ever been elevated to that status, never women). The best she can ever hope for is the title of Queen-Consort, though at present there is no known plan to allow even that.

September 13, 2008 6:14 PM  

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