The issue of whether the Duchess of Cornwall could become Queen, an allusion made by Prince Charles during a recent interview, also sparks the question of whether she and Charles are legally married.
The Marriage Act of 1836 introduced civil marriages in England but in section 45 it says that the Act “shall not extend to the marriage of any of the Royal Family”. Charles and Camilla were married in a register office at the Windsor Guildhall on April 9, 2005. However, given the existence of this section, their marriage is far from being a lawful one.
In 2005, when Charles and Camilla announced their intention to marry, Lord Lyell of Mary-yate, the Attorney-General at the time of Charles’s and Diana’s divorce, questioned the lawfulness of a civil marriage between them. In turn, Charlie Falconer, then Lord Chancellor, to issue a formal statement saying that in his opinion such a marriage would be legal:
„We are aware that different views have been taken in the past; but we consider that these were overcautious, and we are clear that the interpretation I have set out in this statement is correct. We also note that the Human Rights Act has since 2000 required legislation to be interpreted wherever possible in a way that is compatible with the right to marry (article 12) and with the right to enjoy that right without discrimination (article 14). This, in our view, puts the modern meaning of the 1949 Act beyond doubt.”