Support grows for Charles wedding to Camilla
The public are warming, slowly, to the long-simmering love affair of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles and approve of their upcoming marriage, according to a poll published in The Times.
Forty-three percent approve of the union of the heir to the throne and his longtime lover, compared with 22 percent who disapprove and 30 percent who said they did not care, the poll found.
The announcement of their engagement on Thursday, and of the April 8 wedding date, set off speculation about whether the public will accept a second marriage of Charles, given the fierce loyalty still widely felt to his first wife, the late Princess Diana.
But The Times' survey found growing acceptance for Parker Bowles, a 57-year-old divorcee who has known Charles, 56, for more than three decades and been his live-in companion for the past several years.
Last June only 32 percent approved of a marriage between the two, while 29 percent disapproved and 38 percent did not care, it found.
A noticeable rise in support came from middle-aged people: 56 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds approve, compared with 27 percent of that age group polled last summer.
Half of those polled believed the marriage would have no effect on the monarchy, while 33 percent said it would weaken it and eight percent said it would strengthen it.
But the poll also found that people were largely opposed to Queen Elizabeth II, now 78, abdicating in favor of her son.
The poll, conducted by Populus, was carried out among 502 adults by telephone on February 10 and 11.
A similar survey, published Friday in The Daily Telegraph, showed a 65-percent approval rating for the marriage, compared with 24-percent disapproval and 11 percent of respondants who did not know.
The numbers were up dramatically from a similar poll taken in 1998 -- only a year after Diana's death in a car crash in Paris, and two years after her divorce from Charles following a painful, public breakup.
In 1998 only 40 percent had approved of a union with Parker Bowles, whom Diana had blamed for the ruin of her marriage.