While I'm flattered by your recent invitation to celebrate the April wedding of His Royal Highness Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles, the future Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Consort (or whatever combination of flowery titles the Royal stationer deems necessary to lend her calling cards and thank-you notes that traditional noble oomph) I must regretfully inform you that I will be unable to attend. Even more regretfully, I feel it is my duty to be candid about my reasons for non-attendance, which have nothing to do with ill-health or prior engagements, but result from an assortment of annoyances with your peculiar family and its history that I believe are both just and widely shared.
I'm an American, so I'll speak plainly.
1. You Already Fooled Us Once.
Charles's first wedding to the lovely Diana spawned a small industry in souvenir teacups, commemorative medallions, and “limited edition” glass figurines that drove quite a few of my older female relatives into considerable credit card debt. Their expenditures seemed understandable at the time. The wedding of a future British monarch is a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle, traditionally, and stocking up on related collectibles is less like an indulgence than an investment. With the passage of time, such keepsakes can be expected to grow steadily in value, both monetary and sentimental. Or so my naďve great aunts assumed. But then came the extramarital affairs, the sordid taped phone calls, the bitter divorce, and the tragic automobile crash. These events not only broke my loved one's hearts, they rendered their costly collections of royal curios virtually worthless.
This must not happen again.
2. Your Son Has Violated Sacred Principles.
The fact that Charles and Camilla are proven adulterers is no concern of mine. I'm no moralist, and I'm also a realist. I fully accept and understand that chastity among top-rank British royals is rarer than literacy among American presidents. What troubles me, however, is Prince Charles' flagrant disregard for natural law the law of the jungle, not the law of heaven in spurning a very young, attractive woman for a plainer specimen one year his senior, to whom he's stayed faithful, by all appearances, until this very day. God may or may not approve of these decisions, but they go against everything Darwin ever stood for.
3. You Have Trampled on Tradition.
The crowned heads of Europe, according to the history books, were generally lofty, unfeeling, pragmatic types who married not for sentimental reasons but to forge diplomatic alliances, consolidate material fortunes, and produce legitimate heirs. Prince Charles, by fathering children with Diana while carrying on with someone else, showed just such cold-bloodedness once, but then went soft. Now, like some pathetic commoner cruising the member profiles on Match.com for a soul-mate who enjoys bird-watching and Scrabble, he wants fulfillment, compatibility, partnership. The next thing we know, he'll be on Dr. Phil discussing the Seven Secrets of Lasting Intimacy.
Dr. Phil: “As happy middle-aged monogamists, how do you and Camilla keep the flame alive? Honest and open communication? Erotic experimentation? Romantic dinners?”
His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales: “During the day, we watch polo. At night we spoon.”
Henry the VIII would be appalled.
4. You Bore Me Stiff.
Chronologically, they're both in their late fifties, but spiritually and psychologically, Charles and Camilla appear to be somewhere in their early nineties. They were born this way, one senses, which may be why they fell in love originally and why their affair has been able to survive so much noisy public disapproval and so many years of relentless tabloid controversy. Slowly, steadily, and relentlessly, their plodding, undemonstrative tortoise love has numbed the public and put the critics to sleep, neutralizing scandal through sheer boredom and reminding us that marriage is not the only way to turn passion into monotony. As the best-behaved misbehavers in history, it's hard to remember that they ever did anything wrong or even possessed the capacity for wrongdoing.
As the colorless civil ceremony that will formalize their relationship approaches, one thing feels absolutely certain: there will be no more excitement from these two. They'll never stray or break another's heart. They'll never again be recorded while having phone sex or if they are the transcript will not be published . They'll never mortify their parents again, embarrass their children, or shock their friends. And, of course, they'll never, ever divorce.
For me, that takes all the fun out of a wedding, which is why I'm afraid I won't be there on April 8th, rain or shine.