From Mrs Sandra Dickinson SIR – I found Melanie McDonagh’s article (Comment, Nov 4) about the marriage of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall distasteful and unkind. I see that the information about the Church of England’s blessing of their union, stems from “revelations” given to the Daily Mail by “Diana’s friend”. Hm. That a learned man such as Dr Williams should be accused of being “taken for a ride” by royal aides is insulting both to him and to the Queen – who by implication somehow connived in sanctioning the ceremony of blessing as some cynical PR exercise.
The article does, however, highlight a serious problem for the Church of England in dealing with divorce and remarriage. The problem is not solved by apportioning blame and then making the culprit(s) suffer indefinitely, as Ms McDonagh seems to wish.
Some years ago my circumstances were very similar to those of the royal couple but mercifully out of public view. As a Roman Catholic, I had the privilege of being able to put my first marriage before the scrutiny of the marriage tribunal and eventually an annulment was granted. The tribunal looks very closely at the circumstances and background of the first failed marriage and the feelings of the individuals as they entered into matrimony – at all times guided of the number of those who died through its activities. Yet on his own figures tens of thousands of people were executed, quite apart from those who died in imprisonment. Propaganda may have inflated the figures, but the reality is surely bad enough and something to be ashamed of.
As to the acceptance of the Reformation in England by ordinary people, many must have been completely bewildered by the changes in different directions taking place in the middle years of the 16th century. A significant number of ordinary people were martyred under Mary, indicating that reformed convictions were strongly held among them, and during Elizabeth’s reign the majority of the population seems to have accepted a Protestant position.
Yours faithfully, GORDON MURRAY London EC4 by prayer. The experience can be harrowing and painful for the individual but it is also illuminating and ultimately healing.
I feel sure that the Archbishop of Canterbury, while not able to conduct a tribunal as such, will have gone over similar ground with the two concerned and, most importantly, will have done so with prayer and reverence.
The comparison with Henry VIII’s marriages, and their consequences for the nation, is ludicrous. I sense the relief in the Prince and his wife (and indeed their families) that they can show their love for each other more openly. I wish them continued happiness.
Yours faithfully, SANDRA DICKINSON Lichfield, Staffs From Mrs E Hunter SIR – I was really quite amazed to read Melanie McDonagh’s diatribe.
It is nonsense to suggest that the Duchess of Cornwall hovered, like a malignant fairy, over the “Wales’s” marriage, and that the poor Princess of Wales was so badly done by. Ms McDonagh may choose to believe that the affair blighted Diana’s marriage from the outset – personally, I prefer to believe that it was not until after the Princess had herself embarked upon an affair, or three. I take the Prince of Wales to be a more credible witness than his wife.
I understand that Mr Parker Bowles, being a Catholic, obtained an annulment before marrying again; the Prince of Wales was undoubtedly a widower, so both Mrs Parker Bowles and the Prince were free to marry. And where does Henry VIII come in to it?
Yours faithfully, E HUNTER Halstead, Essex From Mr Michael Tatham SIR – I should have thought it was obvious that the very long decline in the institution of marriage owed nothing at all to the recent marital difficulties of the royal family and even less to the antics of that unpleasant fellow Henry VIII.
If we look for causes for this decline – and I am sure they are complex and various (they would include such things as the greater economic independence of women) – then one might do worse than consider the practice of granting annulments.
Yours faithfully, MICHAEL TATHAM Bedford