Not a whisper, not a word, not even an inkling. Nothing. When my mobile went ‘beep’ this morning with the hot news courtesy of my MediaGuardian alert . I was genuinely astonished. Perhaps I’m flattering myself here, but the old ears are supposed to be pretty well cued-in at ground-level, the personal radar suitably calibrated and the senses switched to ‘Receive’, but there’d not been even a suggestion that the House of Windsor was about to drop the royal equivalent of Shock & Awe on the long-suffering British public. So soon after Harry’s swastika brick, too. What’s going on? I see Roger Daltrey was at the Palace picking up his CBE yesterday; perhaps Charles found himself humming ‘Hope I die before I get old’ and suddenly thought ‘Blimey – I am old: time to get hitched to the woman I love.’
But no, there was nothing impulsive about this, from a PR viewpoint it was text book stuff. The news was broken in a direct manner they clearly confident issuing a bold announcement at the start of the working day which sent media land into a frenzy of excitement. After all any sign of weakness would have been ceased on. They must have been planning it for years: waiting, testing opinion, moving forward, waiting, moving back, letting Edward and Sophie get on with it, endless chats with Norman St. John Stevas and various bishops, and with the Queen, of course, no doubt always sticking her oar in when least desired, and always always putting the nation not the notion first. Without the tragic death of the last Princess of Wales, Charles and Camilla might have got married while George Carey was still Archbishop, but the ‘rumble dans le tunnel’ scuppered that. After all, the future monarch needs the approval of his people if he’s to marry, and the softly-softly approach with which Mrs Parker Bowles has been oh so slowly but nonetheless relentlessly introduced into the mainstream of Royal life has proved the right course.
Because, as ever, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t, that family. In a world where hereditary monarchy is, to put it mildly, a tad anachronistic, it’s amazing how quick The Man In The Street is to chuck cold water in their direction if etiquette is not observed to the letter If Charles and Camilla wait any longer they’re liable to meet each other coming back in the other direction. No. No more waiting, please. Now we can have a nice quiet civil wedding, a holy hooley at Windsor Castle, and then back to Gloucestershire where all the best people live, and a happy retirement until it’s time to take over the firm and become the most important Charlie of all. And the nation will rise to the occasion with spontaneous outbursts of indifference.
Far be it for me to enquire, lacking as I do a single cynical bone in my whole body, but was that really a coincidence earlier this week? That man explaining how Charles wins the lottery every year with his ‘private’ Duchy of Cornwall earnings? And the papers said ‘He seems to spend a lot of money on Camilla. She’s got staff and clothes and everything!’ Well, OF COURSE she has. Once she’s had a spell as Duchess of Cornwall she’s going to be Princess Consort, and when she’s got bored of sounding like two old Leyland cars she’s going to be the next QUEEN OF ENGLAND.