Reunion tour

November 02, 2005

Royalty is not all tea and crumpets, many a crowned head has complained. Being born into a life of wealth and privilege often means not having much choice about how that life is lived - especially on the critical issue of a spouse.

By long tradition, promiscuity and adultery are preferable to making the wrong legal match. Bold indeed must be the prince who stands up to family and public furor by marrying the woman he loves.

Here in the birthplace of Wallis Warfield Simpson there is a soft spot for such romantics. Thus, if Prince Charles hits a bit of rough going in introducing his middle-age bride and former mistress, Camilla, to New York and Washington audiences that swooned 20 years ago over the exquisite Princess Diana, he and the new duchess are more than welcome in Baltimore.

Camilla needn't even bring along those gigantic Queen-Mum-style chapeaux and designer dresses for the full-figured. Horsey tweeds are still the fashion in Chesapeake Bay country. In fact, it would be no trouble at all to saddle up some ponies and send the royal pair on a fox hunt - a sport now frowned upon at home.

Which isn't to disparage at all the national love affair with Diana. She was the ultimate celebrity; her tragic end froze that vulnerable beauty forever as she was at 36. Nor can it be forgotten that the fraud of her fairytale marriage was more painful because Charles acted like a cad. He should have married Camilla when they fell in love three decades ago before either got otherwise entangled.

But now Charles is trying to put things right - much like his great-uncle Edward, Mrs. Simpson's Prince Charming, known to family and friends as David. Charles, too, is finally officially linked to his soul mate, and without having to give up a throne for which he has been so long in waiting.

Though the glamour is gone, there's something heartening about romantic destiny fulfilled at any age.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor spent much of their life together in exile, based in France but roaming the world in royal idleness. Charles is far more ambitious; he wants to be relevant. He promotes progressive policies on protecting the environment and preserving architectural treasures.

Perhaps with a partner who complements rather than upstages him, the prince will be able at last to make his mark.

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