Last week, on April 9, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary.
They have become so accepted as a couple now that, looking back, it is difficult to comprehend what a big deal this marriage represented.
The pair had been an item for several years before this— and, mindful of public opinion at the time, they adopted a careful approach to introduce the then Ms Parker-Bowles to the public.
They were first seen together leaving a party at the Ritz in early 1999, and a meeting with the Queen followed a year later. From then on, they were seen more frequently together in public.
Nevertheless, it was still surprising when their engagement was announced by Clarence House in 2005.
They didn’t get off to the best start, first the ceremony had to be relocated from Windsor Castle to the town’s Guildhall—otherwise the castle would have had to host public wedding ceremonies.
Then the ceremony was postponed by one day so the Prince could attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
The fact that the Queen did not attend the civil ceremony caused a lot of interest. But Her Majesty attended the blessing at St George’s Chapel—and allowed the Prince to present his future wife with a ring which had belonged to the Queen Mother— suggesting she was not strongly opposed.
Since that day, the Duchess of Cornwall seems to have won over many people. I think she had to because before we did not know her: we had seen only pictures, many unflattering, and we had never heard her speak.
She has followed the traditional path of royal ladies by adopting a portfolio of charitable organisations and proving to be not only compassionate but also down-to-earth, seeming to enjoy her engagements and speaking freely to people of different backgrounds.
Because of the Queen’s longevity, remaining active in her late 80s, people have got used to the Duchess of Cornwall playing a supporting role, easing her transition to royal consort.
The unresolved question, though, is her future role.
At the time of their marriage it was announced that if and when the Prince becomes King, she would be known as Princess Consort.
Their answers to the question over the years have been ambiguous: mainly saying “you never know”.
I believe when the time comes, she should be Queen.
We do not have morganatic marriage in this country.
If they are allowed to be married, then she should be allowed to be Queen Consort, otherwise the marriage should not have been allowed to take place.
Only time will tell but, for now, the Prince and Duchess can look back over ten happy and successful years as a royal partnership.