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Queen approves, her subjects don't

London, Feb 11: Yesterday's apparently happy news that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles are to marry on April 8 has failed to move the British public, according to the initial tests of public opinion.

The Queen has signalled her approval of the match, so has the Prime Minister and the Tory and Lib Dem leaders. Politicians have queued up to send their good wishes to the couple. Even the princes William and Harry have declared they are supportive of their father's decision to remarry.

But the great British public seems reluctant to share the sense of supposed joy. Polls conducted yesterday and today showed popular sentiment is against the marriage, which seems to indicate some people would be content to see Charles keep Camilla as his mistress.

In a Teletext poll, 72 per cent of viewers said they were against the marriage.On television, ITV1's This Morning programme asked viewers whether Charles, 56, and Camilla, 57, should marry, with 68 per cent voting no, and 32 per cent backing the move. A third poll, conducted among 8,708 Sky News viewers, was not encouraging for the couple, either. It found that 63 per cent (5,498) disapproved of the forthcoming wedding, while 37 per cent (3,210) voted that they should marry.

And so it went on. Of 14,000 votes cast in a GMTV poll today, 40 per cent were for the wedding and 60 per cent against.Why the British public is being so unforgiving can only be surmised.

Some clearly blame Camilla for breaking up Diana's marriage and appear disinclined to forgive her. A poll in the Daily Telegraph offered some comfort to Charles, who has been cautious in moving towards marriage after Diana's exit. Out of 1,313 people contacted, two-thirds of Britons say they would support the couple's decision to marry.

However, only 40 per cent say that Camilla should become Princess Consort as planned after Charles becomes king. Some 47 per cent believe that she should have no title, while only 7 per cent think she should become queen.

The poll also found that the majority of Britons would prefer the monarchy to miss a generation, with the Queen handing the throne to her grandson, William, 22, on her death or abdication.

The prince and his fiance were today keeping a low profile at Highgrove, his home in Gloucestershire. Two people who have refused comment are Earl Spencer, Diana's brother, and Mohammed al Fayed, father of Dodi Fayed, who died in the Paris car crash with the princess.

Former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher, attending the opening of the new Winston Churchill museum in central London, swept aside questions on the subject, saying: 'We are not talking about that. We have slightly more important things to talk about.'

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said today that he welcomed the news. 'Perhaps he'll (Charles) have less time for foxhunting now,' he joked.

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