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The broken tradition Meghan has to thank Camilla for.

The Royal family has come a long way. When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement, the official word from the Queen was that she was “delighted”.

That’s pretty good of her, considering that Markle is… gasp… DIVORCED.

By contrast, Prince Charles’s now-wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, had to put up some frosty treatment from the Queen and endure a long wait for a wedding. Perhaps that’s paved the way for Markle.

The men of the Royal family have a long tradition of falling for divorced women, and it hasn’t always ended well for them.

(L-R) Wallis Simpson, Meghan Markle, and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall.

King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson

Eighty-one years ago, when King Edward VIII’s relationship with American divorcee Wallis Simpson went public, he felt compelled to abdicate the throne.
Edward was head-over-heels in love with Simpson. He had met her in 1931 when she was still with her second husband, Ernest. She had escaped an abusive first marriage, and was smart and funny and warm. Although rumours spread that she was scheming to be queen, she had in fact offered to remain Edward’s mistress, but he had been determined to marry her. As king, he was free to marry anyone he liked, except a Roman Catholic.

Edward was enormously popular with ordinary people, and when news broke of his love for Simpson, there was public support for him to stay king. But Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, the Church of England hierarchy and the right-wing newspapers were all against the idea. Rumours were spread about Simpson – including that she was selling British secrets to Germany. Within days, Edward announced his abdication, saying it had become impossible “to discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and support of the woman I love”.

Edward and Simpson were married the following year. The new king, George VI, forbade Edward’s siblings from attending the wedding. He wouldn’t allow Simpson to use the title of “her royal highness”, and wouldn’t give Edward any duties to carry out.

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Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

As for Charles, he fell for Camilla Shand, as she was then called, after meeting her at a polo match in 1970, when she was a fun-loving 23-year-old. But the Royals didn’t see her as the perfect wife for a range of reasons – one supposedly being that she wasn’t a virgin. Before long, she married army officer Andrew Parker Bowles.

Charles married Diana Spencer, but their marriage was strained by his affair with Camilla.

After the Parker Bowles divorced in 1995, and Charles and Diana divorced a year later, Charles and Camilla should have been free to marry. But Diana’s death in 1997 slowed the process.

The Queen didn’t approve of Camilla and her ongoing relationship with Charles.

In 1998, the Queen chose not to attend Charles’s 50th birthday party because Camilla would be there. It wasn’t until 2000 that the Queen turned up to an event where Camilla was present – a birthday party for Greek King Constantine.

In 2005, Charles and Camilla finally married, in a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall. The Queen did not attend. At the time, a Palace spokeswoman insisted that it was because Charles and Camilla wanted the civil ceremony to remain “low key”.
The Queen is attending the service of dedication and paying for the reception,” the spokeswoman said. “This is not a snub.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

After accepting Camilla into the Royal family, with all her baggage, no wonder the Queen has been so gracious about Markle. Certainly, Markle’s relationship history is nothing scandalous.

Markle met film producer Trevor Engleson in 2004. They dated for six years before getting engaged. The wedding was held in Jamaica in 2011, and involved four days of partying. But the marriage only lasted two years, after reportedly being strained by long distances. Markle had just been cast in Suits and she was filming in Toronto, while Engleson was based in Los Angeles. The couple divorced in 2013, citing “irreconcilable differences.” 

Now, the question being asked is: will the Queen attend Prince Harry’s wedding to Markle?

Well, she’s apparently never attended a civil wedding before, but there’s no reason why Harry and Markle’s would be a civil ceremony. The Church of England changed its ruling in 2002 to allow divorced people to marry in a church, at the discretion of the priest.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, certainly sounds pretty sure that Harry and Markle will be having a church wedding.

“I am so happy that Prince Harry and Ms Markle have chosen to make their vows before God,” he said.

But will the Queen, who is the head of the Church of England, and is described as having “great personal faith”, turn up to the second wedding of a divorcee?
The decision now lies with her.

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