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In 2002 the Church of England, wrenching itself uncomfortably into the mid twentieth century, agreed to permit divorcées with a living ex-spouse to remarry in the church. This means that now Charles and Camilla can marry with the blessing of the church—something that Edward VIII and Wallis could not have done. If Charles and Camilla did marry, when he becomes king she would automatically become queen, barring a special act of Parliament making the marriage morganatic. If public opinion supports the couple, the British cabinet would be unlikely to object to the marriage.

However, a 2002 survey in Britain found that 52 percent of the people would not wish for a Queen Camilla. Softening the blow a bit, some 57 percent felt it would be acceptable for Charles and Camilla to live together once he becomes king. This couple certainly shows more wisdom in waiting for public opinion to change than Edward VIII and Wallis Warfield Simpson did in their catastrophic rush to the altar.

It is possible that Camilla will remain the prince's unofficial consort for many years. If Camilla does marry Charles, she will certainly fare better than her predecessors. Chances are she will not get her head cut off, like Anne Boleyn. Nor is she likely to be torn to pieces, like Queen Draga of Serbia, though at the height of the Camillagate scandal a battalion of women pelted her with rolls at the supermarket. She will certainly, however, be hanged, drawn, and quartered in the press.

The New Trend in Royal Marriages

The reasons for a prince to marry a virgin princess no longer exist. The ancient tradition of keeping royal blood “pure” by marrying into like families resulted in the spread of insanity and hemophilia throughout European royalty. Not only is royal
blood
not
superior to that of commoners, it may very well be genetically inferior because of centuries of inbreeding. If we could but look at this sanctified substance under a microscope, we might well be shocked at how many components are
missing.

Modern princesses don't trail in their wake treaties that open up trade or prevent war. Nor do they bring dowries to fill the royal treasury. Nor has virginity remained a highly prized commodity. Today most educated, well-bred, healthy women in their twenties are
not
virgins.

Having personally witnessed with horror the unmitigated disaster of Charles's marriage to a virgin noblewoman, modern princes are now insisting on marrying nonvirgin commoners of their choice and are willing to fight for that right. In 2001 twenty-eight-year-old Crown Prince Haakon of Norway married his live-in girlfriend Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby, a tall blonde with a strong jaw and healthy good looks. Also twenty-eight, Mette-Marit was not only a commoner, but a very “common commoner” according to a public opinion poll. She was a former waitress and strawberry picker who had never completed her education. Worse, she had a four-year-old illegitimate son whose father was in jail on drug charges.

Prince Haakon pushed hard for the wedding and threatened to renounce his rights to the throne of his father, King Harald. Many compared it to the constitutional crisis of Wallis Warfield Simpson and Edward VIII. Holding very modern values, however, most Norwegians had nothing against the marriage; a poll found that 70 percent wanted the prince's fiancée for their queen. And so the tainted Mette-Marit was forgiven her trespasses; she promised she would never again be led into temptation; and her kingdom was come.

Prince Charles attended the wedding; it is said he returned home with a lighter heart and a spring in his step.

In 2002 thirty-three-year-old Crown Prince Willem of the Netherlands married twenty-nine-year-old Argentine Maxima Zorreguieta despite numerous protests. The problem was not Maxima's lack of virginity, which we can assume. Nor was anything
deemed wrong with Maxima herself, who was well educated and worked as a banker on Wall Street.

But Maxima's father had been a member of Argentina's former junta, a regime that tortured and killed thirty thousand people. Some politicians said Willem should renounce his right to inherit the throne if he married a woman with such an inappropriate father. And Willem indicated he would be willing to do so if they tried to prevent his marriage. Despite the protests, Maxima won tremendous popular support among Dutch citizens. The couple was married in February 2002, but the bride's parents were requested to stay home in Argentina.

Charles was likely the last prince to immolate himself on the altar of Hymen as an exercise in duty to his country. Modern princes like Haakon and Willem will marry women they love. But many of us common folk who have married the partners of our choice are keenly aware of a painful fact—that the heady trip down the aisle often ends on a hard wooden bench in divorce court by way of a third party's soft, inviting bed. A marriage made for love, once strained by the contempt of familiarity, is no remedy for eventual adultery.

Public opinion, generous to princes who married ugly princesses out of duty and then took mistresses of their choosing, will not be as kind with the Haakons and Willems of the twenty-first century who fight hard to marry the women they love, and
then
take mistresses. And kings and princes, even those completely lacking in personal attractions, never lack female admirers. Swooning from the eroticism of royalty, in coming centuries women will continue, as Louis XIV said, to “lay siege to the heart of a Prince as to a citadel.”
18

Conclusion

Throughout history, women have been relegated to the kitchen and the nursery. A few have made it into the bedrooms, and throne rooms, of kings. We will never know the virtues and vices of most of these few, obscured as they are by the heavy shadows of
time or only faintly illuminated by the guttering candle of semi-literacy. But we can focus our spotlight on others and scrutinize them quite closely at our leisure.

First, we close our eyes and inhale their heady perfume—water lily and orange blossom and rose water. We hear the crack of a fan and feel a fluttering movement of air. Opening our eyes, we see that the mistresses standing before us are not all what we would expect. Some indeed are young and sexy, their skin moist and supple, pampered and well oiled, boldly offering their sexuality. Some are motherly and comforting, while yet others are just plain ugly but exude an earthy sex appeal.

Looking more closely, we see that our spotlight shines unmercifully on many vices. We see greed, certainly: Alice Perrers prying rings from the stiffening fingers of the freshly deceased Edward III; Lady Castlemaine grabbing so much cash, silver, jewels, land, and pensions that Charles II had nothing left to pay his soldiers and sailors; Madame du Barry as dazzling as the sun, covering herself in gems and playing in gardens while French peasants starved. We see ruthless intrigue: the viperous Mailly-Nesle sisters vying to unseat one another; the treacherous Madame de Montespan dumping foul potions of toads' excrement and babies' intestines into the king's meat to keep his love.

We see the vaunting ambition of Bianca Cappello, Lola Montez, and Wallis Warfield Simpson, roiling entire nations and ruining their men to achieve personal goals. We see the collateral damage of heartbroken wives: Charles II's Catherine of Braganza, blood streaming from her nose, fainting upon meeting Lady Castlemaine, the woman she knows her husband truly loves; Louis XV's dowdy Queen Marie sighing over the younger, prettier, wittier Madame de Pompadour, flushed and triumphant from the king's embraces; and Princess Diana, crouched over a toilet at the thought that her husband loves not her, but Camilla.

Is it hopeless to hope for love on the battlefield of greed, ambition, and cruel adultery? Is the woman who lays her gift of lilies—or is it thorns?—at the base of an altar worshiping not love, but an idol, a graven image of fame and wealth and power?
Is the real goal of the royal mistress, as one eighteenth-century French courtier put it, to “find glory in a whoredom that is part of History”?
19

But in the patchwork of light and dark and good and evil that is human nature, our spotlight illuminates virtues as well. In it we see Agnes Sorel, sitting before a hearth doing needlework, gently persuading a cowardly Charles VII to drive the English from French soil; the courageous Gabrielle d'Estrées, who faced cannonballs on the battlefield to stay by the side of Henri IV, ably ending a bloody civil war with clever diplomatic persistence; Madame de Pompadour, mentor of artists and writers, eagerly turning in her silver, furniture, and priceless diamonds to build hospitals and pay the soldiers of Louis XV.

We see Wilhelmine Rietz, willing to face imprisonment and possibly death rather than leave Frederick William II to die without her by his side. We behold loyalty in the face of betrayal in Maria Walewska, long ago dismissed by Napoleon while pregnant with his child, trudging up a steep hill on Elba to visit in exile a man whose princess bride and fawning courtiers have forgotten him.

We see Katharina Schratt, stout and matronly, tiny glasses perched on the bridge of her nose, sitting on a concrete garden bench reading dispatches to eighty-year-old Emperor Franz Josef, whose eyes have failed. And Camilla Parker-Bowles, offering calm advice and loving support to a man torn between duty and inclination.

Those who tread the earth wearing crowns—and we the crownless—all worship at altars of greed, ambition, and desire. But sometimes flowers sprout in the blood-soaked battlefield or the fire-ravaged forest, and a glorious tree grows from an unlikely crack in a crumbling wall. Afraid to see the truth of what we have been worshiping, we cast down our eyes. Yet if we look up, we might find that our altar has no idols, or that the idols we put there have fallen and we behold something else shining in their place. In searching the darkness, we have found light.

Notes
Introduction

1.
D'Orliac, p. 171.

2.
Delpech, p. 23.

3.
Andrews, p. 161.

4.
Bray, pp. 467–468.

5.
Pöllnitz, pp. 251–252.

6.
Hume, p. 208.

7.
Trench, p. 182.

8.
Hervey, vol. 1, p. 42.

9.
Trench, p. 172.

10.
Memoirs,
p. 183.

11.
Hardy, p. 42.

Chapter One: Sex with the King

1.
Sutherland, p. 137.

2.
Erickson, p. 300.

3.
Ibid.

4.
Weir, p. 397.

5.
Ibid., p. 403.

6.
Ibid., p. 405.

7.
Ibid., p. 406.

8.
Mossiker,
Sévigné,
p. 284.

9.
Crankshaw, p. 263.

10.
Ibid., p. 264.

11.
Williams,
Rival Sultanas,
p. 131.

12.
Leslie, p. 100.

13.
Ibid., p. 101.

14.
Parissien, p. 77.

15.
Ibid., p. 224.

16.
Pevitt, p. 16.

17.
Forster, p. xviii.

18.
Cawthorne, p. 67.

19.
Kent, p. 44.

20.
Ibid., p. 45.

21.
Smythe, p. 129.

22.
Mitford, pp. 78–79.

23.
Haslip,
Madame du Barry,
p. 24.

24.
Ibid., p. 25.

25.
Ibid., p. 99.

26.
Hilton, p. 243.

27.
Tarsaidze, p. 138.

28.
Ibid., p. 171.

29.
Ibid., p. 175.

30.
Ibid., p. 173.

31.
Bierman, p. 241.

32.
Ibid.

33.
Ibid.

34.
Seymour, p. 234.

35.
Ibid., p. 241.

36.
Ibid., p. 235.

37.
Aronson, p. 44.

38.
Ibid., p. 339.

39.
Ziegler, p. 276.

40.
Hardy, p. 40.

41.
Somerset, p. 136.

42.
Andrews, p. 153.

43.
Wilson, p. 122.

44.
Cawthorne, p. 67.

45.
Andrews, p. 229.

46.
Ibid., p. 230.

47.
Seymour, p. 209.

Chapter Two: Beyond the Bed—
The Art of Pleasing a King

1.
Ziegler, p. 151.

2.
Mitford, p. 27.

3.
Smythe, p. 155.

4.
Ibid., p. 147.

5.
Lever, p. 182.

6.
Ibid.

7.
Smythe, p. 210.

8.
Memoirs,
p. 230.

9.
Haslip,
Madame du Barry,
p. 50.

10.
Ibid., p. 90.

11.
Lewis, p. 193.

12.
Smythe, p. 210.

13.
Haslip,
Emperor and Actress,
p. 186.

14.
Ibid., p. 43.

15.
Ibid., p. 186.

16.
Dunlop, p. 118.

17.
Ziegler, p. 162.

18.
Mossiker,
Sévigné,
p. 224.

19.
Cronin, p. 181.

20.
Andrews, p. 174.

21.
Ibid., p. 91.

22.
Pöllnitz, p. 266.

23.
Ibid.

24.
Mossiker,
Affair of the Poisons,
pp. 123–124.

25.
Ibid.

26.
Cronin, p. 182.

27.
Bierman, p. 171.

28.
Ibid.

29.
Ibid.

30.
Ibid.

31.
Ibid., p. 173.

32.
Ibid., p. 174.

33.
Trench, p. 4.

34.
Ibid., pp. 52–53.

35.
Hardy, p. 68.

36.
Ibid., p. 69.

37.
Ibid., p. 45.

38.
Ibid., p. 46.

39.
Ibid., p. 48.

40.
Cronin, p. 295.

41.
Pevitt, p. 52.

42.
Hardy, p. 68.

Chapter Three: Rivals for a King's Love—
The Mistress and the Queen

1.
Trench, p. 127.

2.
Cronin, p. 183.

3.
D'Orliac, p. 57.

4.
Ibid., p. 56.

5.
Andrews, p. 55.

6.
Ibid., p. 54.

7.
Ibid.

8.
Coote, p. 120.

9.
Andrews, p. 63.

10.
Ibid., p. 64.

11.
Ibid., p. 65.

12.
Wilson, p. 106.

13.
Shellabarger, p. 57.

14.
Hardy, pp. 86–87.

15.
Hervey, vol. 1, p. 42.

16.
Ibid., p. 43.

17.
Hardy, p. 80.

18.
Somerset, p. 217.

19.
Trench, p. 157.

20.
Somerset, p. 219.

21.
Trench, pp. 172.–173.

22.
Ibid., p. 199.

23.
Ziegler, p. 153.

24.
Mossiker,
Affair of the Poisons,
p. 33.

25.
Ibid., p. 63.

26.
Ibid., p. 77.

27.
Ibid.

28.
Cronin, p. 181.

29.
Mossiker,
Affair of the Poisons,
p. 77.

30.
Ibid., p. 81.

31.
Ibid., p. 103.

32.
Cronin, p. 177.

33.
Bernier, p. 84.

34.
Smythe, p. 89.

35.
Ibid., p. 91.

36.
Ibid., p. 92.

37.
Ibid., p. 101.

38.
Memoirs,
p. 160.

39.
Ibid., p. 166.

40.
Ibid., p. 170.

41.
Ibid.

42.
Ibid., p. 171.

43.
Williams,
Last Loves of Henri of Navarre,
p. 135.

44.
Haggard, p. 393.

45.
Mahoney, p. 361.

46.
Haggard, p. 392.

47.
Mahoney, pp. 362.–363.

48.
Ibid., p. 367.

49.
Ibid., p. 368.

50.
Ibid., p. 371.

51.
Williams,
Last Loves of Henri of Navarre,
p. 74.

52.
Mahoney, p. 376.

53.
Ibid., p. 377.

54.
Ibid., p. 376.

55.
Williams,
Last Loves of Henri of Navarre,
pp. 82–83.

56.
Mahoney, p. 383.

57.
Ibid., p. 390.

Chapter Four: Cuckold to the King—
The Mistress's Husband

1.
Bierman, pp. 169–170.

2.
Mossiker,
Affair of the Poisons,
p. 118n.

3.
Sutherland, p. 36.

4.
Ibid., p. 62.

5.
Ibid., p. 63.

6.
Ibid., p. 66.

7.
Ibid., p. 67.

8.
Ibid., p. 69.

9.
Kent, p. 243.

10.
Ibid.

11.
Sutherland, p. 75.

12.
Ibid., p. 142.

13.
Smythe, p. 253.

14.
Ibid., p. 254.

15.
Pöllnitz, p. 157.

16.
Ibid., p. 158.

17.
Ibid.

18.
Given-Wilson and Curteis, p. 128.

19.
Lewis, p. 125.

20.
Mahoney, p. 414.

21.
Ibid., p. 416.

22.
Ibid.

23.
Mossiker,
Affair of the Poisons,
p. 68.

24.
Cronin, p. 177.

25.
Mossiker,
Affair of the Poisons,
p. 71.

26.
Ibid., p. 118.

27.
Ibid., p. 93.

28.
Ibid., p. 315.

29.
Ibid., p. 316.

30.
Ibid.

Chapter Five: Unceasing Vigilance—
The Price of Success

1.
Mossiker,
Sévigné,
p. 55.

2.
Ibid., p. 225.

3.
Ibid., p. 235.

4.
Dunlop, p. 221.

5.
Ziegler, p. 34.

6.
Shellabarger, p. 73.

7.
Mossiker,
Affair of the Poisons,
p. 49.

8.
Ibid., p. 30.

9.
Cronin, p. 176.

10.
Ziegler, p. 124.

11.
Mossiker,
Affair of the Poisons,
p. 82.

12.
Ibid.

13.
Ziegler, p. 104.

14.
Mossiker,
Affair of the Poisons,
p. 114.

15.
Ibid., p. 119.

16.
Ibid., p. 125.

17.
Cronin, p. 233.

18.
Ibid., p. 235.

19.
Mossiker,
Affair of the Poisons,
p. 126.

20.
Ibid., p. 208.

21.
Ibid., p. 228.

22.
Ibid., pp. 233–234.

23.
Ibid., pp. 235–236.

24.
Bernier, p. 87.

25.
Kent, p. 194.

26.
Hausset, p. 69.

27.
Smythe, p. 210.

28.
Lever, p. 237.

29.
Ibid.

30.
Algrant, p. 234.

31.
MacDonogh, p. 32.

32.
Ibid.

33.
Smythe, p. 264.

34.
Ibid., p. 271.

35.
Pöllnitz, p. 221.

36.
Ibid., p. 225.

37.
Ibid.

38.
Ibid., p. 249.

39.
Ibid., pp. 249–250.

40.
Ibid., p. 251.

41.
Ibid., pp. 252–253.

42.
Wilson, p. 99.

43.
Ibid., p. 182.

44.
Ibid., p. 179.

45.
Kent, p. 109.

46.
Wilson, p. 137.

47.
Ibid., p. 143.

48.
Ibid.

49.
Ibid., p. 198.

50.
Wilson, p. 190.

51.
Carlton, p. 72.

52.
Delpech, p. 106.

53.
Williams,
Rival Sultanas,
p. 213.

54.
Wilson, pp. 197–198.

55.
Hardy, p. 35.

56.
Williams,
Rival Sultanas,
p. 213.

Chapter Six: Loving Profitably—
The Wages of Sin

1.
Bierman, p. 188.

2.
Andrews, p. 48.

3.
Ibid., p. 126.

4.
Ibid., p. 127.

5.
Ibid., p. 176.

6.
Hardy, p. 33.

7.
Cronin, p. 179.

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