Constitutional crisis looms: Life, love, sex and royalty

Make the establishment’s difficulty our opportunity

Our favourite soap opera - the Royals - has livened up once again. A Channel Five documentary, Camilla, got the ball rolling at the beginning of the month. This was followed by Camilla Parker-Bowles’ ‘official’ 50th birthday celebrations at Prince Charles’ own Highgrove residence. Then there was Princess Diana’s ‘scandalous’ holiday trip with Mohamed Al-Fayed in St Tropez.

All this royal activity has unleashed intense speculation about the future of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, and the monarchy in general. To the full-time royal-watchers, the Highgrove celebration, which cost an estimated £35,000, was a particularly significant event. The ‘monarchologists’ saw this as the Charles/Camilla relationship being given a more formal status. Perhaps we are being buttered up for the future ‘good news’. 

Whatever the case, it is undoubtedly true that Camilla is enjoying a high public profile at the moment. It even seems that she has been partially rehabilitated in terms of public opinion. A recent Daily Mirror opinion poll showed that 68% supported the idea of the couple getting married, although opposition remained to her becoming queen. Not bad ratings for the ‘wicked’ woman who ruined the fairy-tale romance of Charles and Di.

There has been much talk of a so-called morganatic marriage - ie, Camilla would become Charles’ ‘official’ mistress, in other words. Unsurprisingly, this peculiarly aristocratic arrangement has not gone down too well with some sections of the establishment - particularly hardliners within the Church of England. Well, it is hardly an example for the plebs to follow.

How can a self-confessed adulterer become king? - ‘He’s not fit,’ moan our defenders of morality. However, looking back on the past record of kings and monarchs, he seems eminently suited to the post. Henry VIII had a distinctly dodgy attitude towards women and those Hanoverians certainly had some very funny habits indeed.

The Church of England is certainly presented with a dilemma. Its rules quite clearly decree that divorcees are not allowed to remarry in church (though in practice this theological inconvienience has been increasingly ignored). They also outlaw the ‘sin’ of adultery. The fact that the adulterous divorcee in question is also lined up to become the next head of the church can only rub salt into the wound of the moralistic hardliners. Will they rebel and give Charlie his marching orders?

All the recent media hooha masks a serious constitutional question - what is going to happen when the present queen dies? This must be giving a headache to the defenders of the monarchy and the British establishment, as the current constitutional status quo hits stormy waters.

The revolutionary left would be suffering from myopia if it failed to realise that the Charles and Camilla romance has the potential to produce profound difficulties for the ruling class, even initiate a mini-crisis. The Guardian described the budding situation as “potentially the most serious constitutional crisis since the abdication of Edward VIII” (July 18). Let us hope so, and let us hope communists and democrats will use this situation to make effective and hard hitting republican propaganda. To miss such an opportunity would be criminal - though you can guarantee that is exactly what some left publications will do. Too busy concentrating on the ‘real issues’, you see. 

You can also guarantee that the establishment is working overtime now in order to dampen down any potential discord or constitutional meltdown. Apparently, anxious Whitehall bureaucrats are already scuttling around making contingency plans - making sure that the Blair government knows how to handle such an eventuality, if and when it arises. They certainly treat the royal gossip seriously, and make plans accordingly.

Inevitably, all this speculation is causing splits and tensions among establishment figures, and the bourgeoisie as a whole. Rev John Hawthorne, the vicar of Tetbury, Gloucestershire (Charles is believed to have worshipped regularly there) has denounced the idea of Charles remarrying and remaining head of the Church of England: “I do not see how he could be Defender of the Faith of a church whose laws, rules and teachings he is ignoring, being an adulterer, perhaps unrepentant. And certainly if he married Mrs Parker-Bowles he would be an unrepentant adulterer.”

Of course, the reverend has logic - and constitutional law - on his side. One of the only ways out, of course, is to have the rules specifically rewritten just to please him - or have them quietly ignored altogether. But this also would be a dangerous path for the church, and would expose its hypocrisy to the world. 

Once more we get a little glimpse into the perverted, alienated and unnatural world of the monarchy. Those unfortunate enough to be born into it are virtually doomed to an unproductive, useless life - where even the most normal, everyday activity becomes an enormous obstacle. Diana Spencer was virtually crucified by the rightwing press for taking her children to the Harrison Ford film, The devil’s own. Her ‘crime’ was to take them to a film designated ‘parental guidance’ and - much worse - to see a film about an IRA man on the run. They must be cut off from reality - even Hollywood’s version of reality.

The reverend Hawthorne remarked about the royals, “Of course, we want to be nice to them as people.” In a sense, this is the communist attitude. But what we mean by being “nice” is to divest them utterly of all their wealth and privilege - accumulated over centuries of robbery and plunder of the masses - and make them into productive citizens; to integrate them into society.

I am sure Prince Charles would make a great landscape gardener and Diana would make an excellent sports attendant at your local leisure centre. Let us do them a favour and ensure that they have a chance to find their real vocation in life.

Eddie Ford.