London, April 4 (Reuters): Diana's ghost would still be there at the wedding feast but Prince Charles has at least pulled his marriage out of the shadow of the Pope's funeral by postponing it by a day.
Charles will now marry long-time lover Camilla Parker Bowles on Saturday so that he can attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II in Rome on Friday, when the wedding was originally scheduled.
He cut short his skiing holiday in Switzerland on Monday and flew back to London so he and Camilla could attend a memorial in London's Westminster Cathedral for the Pope.
'As a mark of respect, His Royal Highness and Mrs Parker Bowles have decided to postpone their wedding until Saturday,' said a spokeswoman at Clarence House, the prince's office.
Charles will be Queen Elizabeth's representative at the funeral. Camilla will not accompany him to Rome.
Royal watchers said there was no way to avoid the last-minute change of plan.
'Clearly it couldn't go ahead on Friday. It would have been completely wrong for it to have gone ahead on the day of the Pope's funeral,' said Richard Kay, the royal correspondent for the Daily Mail tabloid. 'It was clearly in trouble once the Pope died.'
The rescheduling also resolved a potential protocol problem for others in the British establishment, including Prime Minister Tony Blair and archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
Williams will attend the Pope's funeral and return on Saturday to lead a blessing ceremony for Charles and Camilla in Windsor Castle, after their civil wedding at a register office down the road.
Blair, who put off Monday's expected announcement of a May 5 election out of respect for the Pope, will also attend both the funeral in Rome and the blessing service for Charles and Camilla the following day.
Charles's wedding plans have been dogged from the outset by unexpected snarl-ups. The venue had to be switched in a mix-up over marriage licences, constitutional experts questioned the legality of a civil ceremony and the Queen has declined to attend it.
Some, however, say what lies beyond could be worse. 'Diana always said her marriage was a bit crowded because there were three people in it,' said Judy Wade, royal correspondent for Hello celebrity magazine.
'I think there will now be three people in Charles's second marriage.'
Diana was consumed with jealousy over Charles's first love, telling her in one famous confrontation: 'It must be hell for both of you but I know what's going on. Don't treat me like an idiot.'
Wronged she was, but Diana was also a mistress of manipulation, using the media to put her side of the affair in the divorce battle with Charles.
Royal biographer Robert Lacey, reflecting on how Diana might have reacted to the marriage, concluded: 'I think she would say 'good luck' in public and make sure she could wreak as much mischief in private as possible.'