Anorak News | Illegally Yours

Illegally Yours

by | 9th, June 2006

“BRIEFING for the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster’s Appearance on Any Questions: The Royal Divorce.” It’s precisely the sort of headline John Major, former Prime Minister and pea enthusiast, would stick at the top of a document.

Major is reported by the Times to have lent his name to this work in 1996, when his Government was in power, although the document is undated.

The document deals with the constitutional position of a divorced Prince of Wales. Would he be allowed to remarry and succeed to the throne?

The paper finds cause to doubt the validity of Charles’s position as heir and husband. This is “potentially explosive”.

It might just be that the Prince and his fragrant lover Camilla are living in sin. It might be that their civil marriage of April 2005 is invalid.

The document is pretty clear: “Members of the Royal Family are excepted from the provisions of the Marriage Act 1949, and their marriages in England and Wales must therefore be performed by Anglican clergy under either a Special or a Common Licence.

“There is, however, a moral obligation on Anglican clergy not to marry a divorced person in Church (if the former spouse is still alive) . . .”

Is it possible that Charles was not allowed to marry in Windsor Guildhall in a civil ceremony?

The paper cites two laws dealing with civil weddings in England – the Marriage Act 1836 (“shall not extend to the marriage of any of the Royal Family”) and the Marriage Act 1949 (“Nothing in this Act shall affect any law or custom relating to the marriage of members of the Royal Family”).

As Charles Mosley, Editor-in-Chief of Debrett’s, tells the paper: “This could be the trigger that brings about the passing of the throne to William. We have to know whether our King is legally married or not. If he wasn’t properly married, he would effectively be living in a state of concubinage . . .”

And we cannot have a regent in such a position.

But, as with so much of the law, there is room for manoeuvre. At the time of the wedding, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor, said that past views on royal marriage were “overcautious”.

He went on: “We also note that the Human Rights Act has since 2000 required legislation to be interpreted wherever possible in a way that is compatible with the right to marry (article 12) and with the right to enjoy that right without discrimination (article 14). This, in our view, puts the modern meaning of the 1949 Act beyond doubt.”

But, as Valentine le Grice, QC, a family law expert, tells the Times: “The Government could have introduced brief legislation to resolve all doubt. It preferred to argue that the Human Rights Act validated the marriage. That is not correct, as the Human Rights Act is only a method of interpretation: it may make blue purple, but it does not make blue red.”

It is all a little muddled. Is Charles married to Camilla or not? And if not, should he become King? It was all so much simpler, and more lawful, when she was just his mistress…

Posted: 9th, June 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink