Constitutional implications of Royal Wedding?

DR JOHN COULTER is a Northern political columnist with the Irish Daily Star. He controversially argues that Charles and Camilla’s wedding could signal the end of the English Monarchy as we know it, with the UK becoming a republic before the end of the century.By John Coulter

The announcement of Prince Charles’ engagement to his very long-time partner, the divorcee Camilla Parker Bowles, was wonderfully timed in terms of a PR stunt to take advantage of the traditional St Valentine’s Day euphoria across the British Isles.

But the impending marriage on 8th April will signal a St Valentine’s Day Massacre for the future of the English monarchy.

This specific royal marriage will start a chain reaction so devastating that within a century, the monarchy will be so reformed it is irrelevant as an institution, or else the UK will be a republic.

Bloody Mary, the executed catholic Queen of Scots, must be spinning in her grave with laughter at the prospect of Camilla becoming HRH Duchess of Cornwall.

Ardent Royalists have been assured Camilla will never become Queen of England if Charles ever succeeds his mum to the throne. But the fact two divorcees will head the Royal Family after Queen Bess Two dies or retires is the beginning of the end of the English Monarchy as established by King Billy himself in 1688.

It’s a far cry from 1936 when suspected Nazi sympathiser King Edward VIII was forced to abdicate, allowing him to wed American divorcee Wallis Simpson. In the years after the death of fairytale Princess Diana, Royalists were also assured Charles and Camilla would never marry as the nation would never allow it.

Less than a decade later on 8 April, the pair will marry. Their marriage effectively sounds the death knell for the 1701 Act of Settlement which decreed all future monarchs must be communicate members of the Protestant Church of England.

With the worldwide Anglican Communion set to split over the ordination of homosexual clergy, the modern day Church of England has slipped a long way spiritually frpm the tough moral stance it imposed on Edward VIII.

The present Queen is in her 70s, so catholic Royalists and ecumenical Anglicans know it is only a matter of time before the full frontal assault on the Act of Settlement can be unleashed.

At some future date, with a catholic once more on the throne of England, a further campaign can begin to reunite the Church of England with Rome – just like in the good auld days of Henry VIII, Bloody Mary and James II.

All these moves also sound alarm bells for the two Orange Orders and the Royal Black Institution. Their loyalty to the English throne is conditional – only a Prod can wear the crown.

For generations since the formations of the Orange Order and Royal Black in the late 18th century, and the Independent Orange Order in the early 20th century, the reading of the ‘loyalty to the English Throne’ resolution at the platform proceedings at the various demonstrations has become as traditional as the banners and bunting.

Fundamentalists within the ranks are already uneasy at the present Queen’s relationship with the Pope. They will feel even more uncomfortable spiritually swearing allegiance to an ex-divorcee if Charles becomes king.

But what happens if a future monarch either is a catholic, or converts to catholicism? Even worse for the Loyal Orders, with the growth of radical Islam in Britain, within a few generations could the death knell of the Act of Settlement eventually see either a muslim queen or an Islamic heir to the throne?

Pro-Diana Royalists had hoped to put enough pressure on Charles – with or without a marriage to Camilla – to persuade him to relinquish his right to succeed to the throne in favour of his eldest son, Prince William.

This campaign found considerable support amongst Royalist in Ulster who merely saw not just a revitalised monarchy, but also the prospect of another King William sitting on the throne. In William, there was the hope the monarchy would become more ‘in tune’ with the ordinary population.

However, the Charles/Camilla package would appear to have a more sinister agenda than simply trying to ingratiate an unpopular long-time lover, fiancee, and soon to be Duchess of Cornwall with a largely sceptical public.

Royal spin doctors will now work 24/7 to sell the present Charles/Camilla wedding package to an already divided nation. They must convince millions of Britons a future King Charles/Princess Camilla is the only hope to prevent the nation from eventually dumping the monarchy and becoming a republic.

The irony of the Royal dilemma is that the Camilla factor may well prove to be the catalyst which an unholy alliance of English republicans and anti-Act of Settlement campaigners have been waiting for to bring about a major reform of the monarchy not witnessed since the early 1700s.

Royalists loyal to the memory of Diana may have lost the battle to prevent Charles and Camilla marrying without any promise from the heir he will give his place as king to his eldest son, William.

Had she lived and Charles had remained faithful to her, the nation would have warmly embraced a Queen Diana. In reality, once Charles has been on the throne for a few years, the spin doctors will hoodwink the nation into believing the monarchy would benefit from having a Queen Camilla.

But far greater worries lie ahead for the Orange and Black institutions. Without the Acts of Union and Settlement, their existence and oaths of allegiance are meaningless. In the 1680s, just as English Protestants looked to Holland to find a Royal champion, maybe the time has come for Orangeism to once more look abroad to find a decent monarch worth swearing allegiance to.