Wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles ruled legal

Tuesday, March 8th 2005, 1:14 pm

By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ The latest on Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles: the wedding is legal, if not yet acceptable to everyone in Britain.

The registrar general for England and Wales on Tuesday dismissed objections to the couple's plans for a civil wedding, deciding they deserved to be treated like any other pair of British lovebirds.

But to those who believe this is not any other couple, that important issues of church or state are in the balance and that the marriage is an affront to the memory of Princess Diana, there is still a chance to take the case to court.

Charles and Parker Bowles plan to wed April 8 in a civil ceremony in Windsor. It is unprecedented for an heir to the throne to marry outside of a church, but it is believed necessary because the Church of England has qualms about remarriage for divorcees.

Eleven people submitted caveats, or objections, to the registrar general. Some argued that the Marriage Act of 1949, which authorized civil marriages, excluded the royals because it said ``nothing in this Act shall affect any law or custom relating to the marriage of members of the royal family.''

Registrar General Len Cook disagreed.

``A reading of the 1949 act which prevented the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Parker Bowles from contracting a civil marriage would interfere with their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights,'' Cook said.

The Lord Chancellor, the chief legal officer of England and Wales, had taken the same line in his earlier opinion on the legality of the marriage.

The Office for National Statistics, the registrar's agency, said objectors could try to take their case to court. A judge would then decide whether to hear the case.

Despite Cook's ruling in favor of equal treatment, royal marriage options are hemmed in by law, custom and public sensitivities.

The Act of Settlement of 1701, which followed the nation's short-lived experiment with abolishing the monarchy, forbids the monarch from marrying a Roman Catholic.

The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 requires royals to have the permission of the King in Council (the government) to marry.

Although the Church of England is increasingly lenient about letting divorced people marry in church, the issue still troubles some.

There also is the powerful ghost of Princess Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997. Her acolytes blamed Charles and Parker Bowles (Diana called her ``the Rottweiler'') for Diana's problems. Charles and Parker Bowles were involved during his marriage to Diana.

The Diana Circle, a group devoted to the princess' memory, has protested to Charles' mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

``This is not a time for rejoicing but for sadness,'' the Diana Circle said in its letter to the queen. ``If the marriage is allowed to proceed, there is no doubt the monarchy will suffer damage and unpopularity never seen before ... How can you permit such a disservice and unpopular occasion to take place?''

The Diana Circle plans to mark the wedding day laying flowers outside Kensington Palace, Diana's former home in London.

``Those who can't make it will display pictures of the princess in their windows,'' co-founder Joan Berry said Monday. ``We are determined that Diana will not be forgotten.''

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