Years of icy hostility from Queen Elizabeth towards Camilla Parker Bowles melted over the weekend. The two met for the first time since Parker Bowles began her adulterous affair with Prince Charles. The big thaw is creating a flood of speculation the two will now marry.
"MARRY HER" screams the headline of Monday's Mirror newspaper. The tabloid's royal reporter Jane Kerr told CBS Radio News a reader poll shows 68 percent favor it.
"That's the strongest ever support they've ever had," she said, adding that it's Camilla Parker Bowles' low-key profile since Princess Diana's death that's won people over.
Seventy-seven percent approved of Queen Elizabeth's "olive branch" to Camilla but the poll also shows 83 percent don't want Camilla to be Queen. Prince Charles has said he doesn't want to marry again anyway.
The queen signaled it was time to bring Camilla in from the cold when the two women met at a party Charles threw on Saturday to celebrate the 60th birthday of ex-King Constantine of Greece.
Others said Charles would take Camilla on holiday to the queen's Balmoral estate in Scotland in August where the two women would meet again.
Royal correspondents all agree that last Saturday's meeting was the first big ice-breaker.
Robert Jobson of the Daily Express quoted senior royal sources as saying it was "only a matter of time" before Charles and Camilla married.
"Nothing happens by accident in royal circles," an unidentified aide of the queen was reported to have said.
"Mrs Parker Bowles is now accepted as the prince's partner. It is as simple as that," the aide said.
The Daily Mail's royal correspondent Richard Kay wrote: "More than anyone, the queen knows that the effect of her meeting will be to raise the prospect of a Charles/Camilla marriage."
Newspapers seemed agreed that marriage was unlikely until Charles's two teenage sons Prince William and Prince Harry had left school.
Charles has had to tread gingerly since his marriage to Diana ended in 1996 with admissions of adultery on both sides.
After Diana's death the following year in a Paris car crash, Camilla slowly emerged into the limeligh as his "consort."
Since their first appearance together, when they seemed anxious as photographers snapped them leaving London's Ritz hotel, Charles and Camilla have had numerous public outings and have gradually looked more relaxed.
Marriage remains a difficult issue for the two divorcees because of the royal family's powerful traditional links with the Church of England, of which Charles is due to become Supreme Governor one day.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, had held several secret rounds of talks with Camilla.
"Dr Carey's talks will raise further speculation that the prince's relationship with Mrs Parker Bowles is heading towards a more formal footing," the newspaper said.
The Times quoted senior Church sources as indicating that Charles and Camilla could marry in a Church of England ceremony within five years.
It said the Church was holding a grassroots "referendum" over plans to drop its prohibition on second marriages where a former spouse was still living like Camilla's ex-husband Andrew.
"It is clear from early soundings that the one-time hostility to a future wedding [between Charles and Camilla] is beginning to recede," the Times said.
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