On April 9, 2005, most of the British royal family gathered at Windsor Guildhall in Windsor, England, to attend the civil wedding ceremony of the then-Prince Charles to Camilla Parker Bowles, the woman he married after divorcing Princess Diana. But one person was conspicuously absent from the ceremony: the late Queen Elizabeth II, Charles’ mother. So, why didn’t the queen attend Charles and Camilla’s wedding?
As with many other aspects of the British royals’ personal lives, there’s a bit of mystery around Elizabeth’s “will not attend” RSVP, with Buckingham Palace offering one explanation and gossipers offering another.
Publicly, Elizabeth didn’t attend the wedding so that the ceremony stayed “low-key.”
In February 2005, more than a month and a half before Charles and Camilla’s wedding, Buckingham Palace announced that the queen would not be attending.
“The queen will not be attending the civil ceremony because she is aware that the prince and Mrs. Parker Bowles wanted to keep the occasion low-key,” a palace spokesperson said, according to The Chicago Tribune.
The spokesperson also insisted that Elizabeth’s decision not to attend was not a snub, adding, “The queen’s prime concern is that the civil ceremony should be as low-key as possible, in line with the couple’s wishes. Clearly, if the queen were to attend, the occasion would no longer be, by definition, low-key.”
Privately, she may have been showing devotion to the Church of England.
Cosmopolitan UK reported earlier this year that Elizabeth chose not to attend her Charles’ nuptials because she was the head of the Church of England, which long disapproved of remarriages. The queen opted not to attend the wedding to upload the Church’s values, the magazine added.
The Telegraph reported a similar rationale in April 2005, claiming that Elizabeth told a friend, “I am not able to go. I do not feel that my position [as Supreme Governor of the Church] permits it.”
Elizabeth does, however, appear with the couple in post-wedding photos.
If you see photos of Elizabeth with Charles and Camilla on their special day, it’s because she and the rest of the royal family attended the service of dedication at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle following the wedding. The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, who died last year, also hosted a wedding reception for Charles and Camilla at Windsor Castle.
Earlier this year, Elizabeth expressed a “sincere wish” that Camilla would become queen consort.
In her Accession Day message this February, marking the 70th anniversary of her ascension to the throne, Elizabeth thanked the Brits and people around the world for their support — and expressed her desire for Camilla to become queen consort, the title for a spouse of a reigning king. As The New York Times reports, many observers viewed that message as a stamp of approval for Charles and Camilla’s marriage.
“I remain eternally grateful for, and humbled by, the loyalty and affection that you continue to give me,” Elizabeth said in the statement. “And when, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.”