Prince Charles and Camilla Get Royal Snub
The decision will make the Queen the first monarch in 142 years to miss the wedding of one of her children. Charles and Camilla's four children – princes Harry and William, and Tom and Laura Parker Bowles – are still slated to attend the civil ceremony, though there is no word on whether Charles' royal siblings (princes Edward and Andrew, or Princess Anne) will join in the celebration as well.
Buckingham Palace is insisting that the queen's decision is not an insult. "The queen will not be attending the civil ceremony because she is aware that the prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles want to keep the ceremony low-key," said a palace spokeswoman. She said the decision was made on "pragmatic grounds. She is very pleased to be giving the reception afterwards."
But coming on the heels of the decision to shift the ceremony from Windsor Castle to a town hall, the queen's gesture seems particularly bizarre, note palace watchers.
"It's turning into a farce," royal author Judy Wade tells PEOPLE. "Each day a new drama unfolds, it's more and more embarrassing. It's like a soap opera."
As for whether it's really a snub, Wade says, "I think it looks like a snub. I'm afraid the public will interpret it as a snub." But in the author's view, "I think the Queen is worried about the legality of the wedding. The Queen needs to distance herself. She doesn't want to get sucked into this mess. It seems she realizes the monarchy is more important than her son's second marriage."
The upcoming nuptials are shaping up to be a marked contrast to Charles' glitzy, widely watched 1981 wedding to Princess Diana, who died in a 1997 car crash, a year after her royal divorce.
The April 8 ceremony was moved from Windsor Castle to a local Town Hall due to unforeseen legal problems. That move was followed by increased questioning over whether the wedding would even be legal, and reports that the wedding venue was across the street from a high-end lingerie store.