updated 2/11/2005 2:37:18 PM ET 2005-02-11T19:37:18

Guest: Andrew Morton, Tom Leonard, Robert Moore

ANNOUNCER:  MSNBC REPORTS: Charles and Camilla, a crowning and controversial moment in British history, as its future king prepares to take a new bride.

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TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER, GREAT BRITAIN:  I‘m delighted for the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles.

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ANNOUNCER:  Tonight, palace insider and Diana confidant Andrew Morton on how Charles and Camilla finally won the blessings of England‘s church and state.  But will they win the blessings of Charles‘s most important subjects, William and Harry?

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I hope that they will be kept in the prayers and the thoughts of many at this time.

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ANNOUNCER:  Plus, the story of Camilla‘s remarkable ascension from the “other woman” to Her Royal Highness.  But will Britain‘s loyal subjects ever forget who came before?

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Good on you, Charles.  Do what you‘ve got to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Well, I just don‘t think it‘s right.  And I don‘t think people are going to accept her as so-called—as the queen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  Now, live from MSNBC world headquarters, Alison Stewart.

ALISON STEWART, MSNBC ANCHOR:  And good evening.  It was surprising news, Prince Charles, the future king of England, announced he will marry his long-time love, Camilla Parker Bowles.  The wedding will take place April 8 at Windsor Castle.  Some Brits cheered, while others jeered, and worldwide royal watchers all weighed in.   Charles and Camilla first met more than 30 years ago, married other people but remained close, very close, for decades, too close for the late Princess Diana, who blamed Parker Bowles for the breakdown of the royal marriage.

In a moment, we‘ll go live to London to gauge reaction.  But first, NBC‘s Mark Potter reports on today‘s stunner in the U.K.

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MARK POTTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  For the lavish coming out at Windsor Castle, the royal bride-to-be wore bright red.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How are you feeling, ma‘am?

CAMILLA PARKER-BOWLES:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I‘m just now coming (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

POTTER:  The would-be groom, who sported a two-tone dinner jacket, was all but ignored as an army of photographers fired away on the requisite close-up of the heirloom diamond engagement ring, the ring a long time coming for Camilla Parker Bowles, the Prince of Wales‘s long-time mistress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Whatever she does will be covered, and it will be magnified and examined.  I don‘t think there‘s any let-up.  It‘s a national preoccupation in Britain.

POTTER:  At London‘s “Daily Mirror,” they worked late into the night, trumpeting the latest developments in the 35-year love story finally headed for royal marriage.  Not quite a fairy tale, but definitely page one.

JANE KERRY, ROYAL REPORTER, “THE MIRROR”:  This is very much the wedding, you know, of this decade.

POTTER:  The news that Charles and Camilla would be married April 8 in a quiet civil ceremony caught Britons by surprise.  Public reaction is mixed.  Some wish them well, others can‘t see her in Buckingham Palace.  Many are just indifferent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to go on with their lives.  And if he wants to get married, then fair be (ph).  You know, let them go and get on with it.

POTTER:  But the press here has been anything but indifferent, printing lurid details of Charles and Camilla‘s private phone calls and once hidden romance, along with constant reminders of Charles‘s failed marriage to the late Princess Diana, who blamed Camilla for the royal break-up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES:  There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.

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POTTER:  But now that even Queen Elizabeth has given her blessing, some see a new and different love story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I mean, she‘s a horse-faced 58-year-old, and she‘s getting married to the heir to the British throne!  So marvelous hope for old people.

POTTER (on camera):  After the wedding, Camilla will officially be known as Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall.  And when Charles becomes king, she will then be the Princess Consort but will not become the Queen of England.

(voice-over):  Royal watchers say that‘s a decision likely made by the royals and Camilla herself, fully aware of the British press and public opinion.  Mark Potter, NBC News, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  As we just saw in Mark‘s piece, the day in London ended with that evening event where all eyes were on the new bride-to-be.  For more on that now, we‘re joined by NBC News‘s Charles Sabine, live in London.  So Charles, describe this coming out party for us.  Describe the scene.

CHARLES SABINE, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it was an extraordinary scene because it just happened to be in the same place, of course, where they‘re going to be married, Windsor Castle.  And indeed, the bride-to-be was wearing her engagement ring.  We‘re told that it‘s a square diamond cut into a platinum band, which is an heirloom which has been handed down through the royal family.  An extraordinary scene.  I don‘t think I‘ve ever seen Prince Charles looking quite so beaming and relaxed.  And certainly, it‘s the first that we‘ve ever heard from Camilla herself on the subject of their marriage.  So quite an event altogether, especially for the media, Alison.

STEWART:  Were the media mostly concentrating on Camilla?

SABINE:  Oh, yes, indeed, because they all wanted to see whether she was wearing that ring.  And of course, she‘s been someone who‘s been very difficult to get pictures of in the past.  She‘s deliberately played a very low-key role in the past.  And the press are now being delighted that she‘s come out, if you like, and able now to—for them to get as many photographs as they like and also to hear her voice, which is something we haven‘t done before.

STEWART:  Something that‘s quite interesting—we‘re hearing reports that this announcement had to be made before someone else beat them to it.  Can you explain?

SABINE:  Yes, that‘s right.  It was actually supposed to be announced next week, but what happened was that there was a leak from the palace to one of the London evening newspapers here this morning which basically set everything in motion.  So before that newspaper came out, the palace thought they‘d better beat them to it and make the announcement themselves, Alison.

STEWART:  It was interesting.  In Mark‘s piece, you heard people saying that—this one woman saying, I‘ll never accept her as queen.  In terms of that public reaction, how much of that really has to do with how much so many Brits really loved Diana?

SABINE:  Well, yes, of course, the shadow of Diana is cast long over this entire affair because, remember, Diana was the person who described Camilla as “the Rottweiler” who made her marriage—Diana‘s marriage—too crowded.  I think it‘s extremely significant that although Camilla will legally be the Princess of Wales, she says she does not want to use that title and instead is going to be called something entirely different, the Duchess of Cornwall.  Now, I think that is definitely a significant moment, and it is—I think shows the sensitivity to those people who are very aware that this is a relationship that was going on before, during and after Princess Diana‘s marriage to Prince Charles—Alison.

STEWART:  And one last question before I let you go.  Tell me about the evening papers, what they were saying about this news, now that they‘ve had an entire day to digest it all.

SABINE:  Well, in fact, we‘ve actually now managed to get tomorrow morning‘s, Monday morning‘s—Friday morning‘s papers, I should say, Alison, and it‘s very interesting.  So I think they portray this very black-and-white split that we have here about opinion about what has been going on here.  We have one side, I think a smaller side, that says that the memory of Diana is one that they would want to think about and the fact she had—it was inflicted with so much misery by this couple, and in the words of the “London Daily Express” tomorrow morning, What would Diana say?

But I think there‘s a larger proportion who feel that, Well, you know, we live in a modern world.  People make mistakes.  They get divorced.  And in the words of “The London Times” tomorrow morning, After 30 years, at least Charles has put his affair in order.

And I must point out quickly, lastly, an interesting snap poll that was taken by “The Daily Telegraph,” printed in that Sunday—in that Friday paper, where they point out Charles is going to get married but the public do not want her to be queen.  They say that although a vast majority, 65 percent, are in favor of this marriage going ahead, very significantly, for the first time ever, a larger proportion of the British public now say that Prince William, rather than Prince Charles, should become the next king.  In other words, they‘re saying, Yes, Prince Charles, go ahead, marry the woman that you love, but give up your right to be king in doing so—Alison.

STEWART:  Very interesting note to end on.  Charles Sabine, thanks for sharing all that with us.  We so appreciate it.

SABINE:  Thanks, Alison.

STEWART:  And now to help us with this chapter of the royal story, we welcome author Andrew Morton.  He wrote “Diana: In Pursuit of Love” and has pinned four books on the late Princess of Wales.  Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us this evening.

ANDREW MORTON, AUTHOR, “DIANA: IN PURSUIT OF LOVE”:  Good evening. 

Yes.  Interesting developments in London today.

STEWART:  Absolutely.  Let‘s start with this first question.  Was this union inevitable?

MORTON:  Yes, I think so.  I mean, people were taken aback by the timing of the announcement, but all the straws in the wind over the past year have been that this couple are going to get married.  The archbishop of Canterbury said that publicly in June this year.  “The Times,” “The London Times,” the most serious of the British newspapers, said that they should get married.  Friends of Prince Charles were quoted saying that they were about to get married.  So there‘s been a lot of anticipation of the marriage, but not—the timing, of course, as your correspondent mentioned, has taken people by surprise.

STEWART:  While we‘re talking about timing, why didn‘t this happen sooner?

MORTON:  Well, I mean, obviously, this—the—Diana‘s death has been the cloud, the gloomy cloud over this whole proceeding.  Cast your mind back to the mid-1990s, after the divorce, Camilla and Charles were seen in public.  They—Prince Charles had a party for Camilla at Highgrove.  Things were moving on apace.  They hired a spin doctor to give Camilla a good public image.  And then, of course, all that stopped as soon as—when Diana died in 1997.

STEWART:  Well, let‘s talk about Camilla‘s public image.  What has it been in the British press?  And have the people warmed to her?

MORTON:  Well, I remember going on a show in Britain in the mid-1990s, where there were 3,000 people to debate the monarchy.  And when the subject of Camilla came up, there was a palpable just hatred of her.  Now, that dislike, that loathing towards Camilla has changed over the last few years because the palace—because Prince Charles has hired high-powered spin doctors to give her a public gloss, if you will.

In fact, a couple of years ago, she was in New York and she stayed at the Carlisle (ph) Hotel, where Diana used to stay.  And people were calling her “Ma‘am.”  People were bowing and curtsying towards her, as though she were a member of the royal family.  So—and you can—and that‘s reflected in Britain, as well, that people became—began to accept her more and more.

But that said, I think that Diana‘s shadow will last throughout Prince Charles‘s life, and there‘s very little that either of them can do about—can do anything about it.

STEWART:  And as you said, they are masterful at the public spin.  And this could be one of the reasons why she‘ll take this title, Duchess of Cornwall, correct?

MORTON:  Yes. I mean, Camilla is an old-fashioned woman in many respects.  And I find it very interesting that in Diana, we saw a thrusting humanitarian, a girl who was happy to bestride the international stage, was making speeches, was really an independent woman.  And many women around the world, especially in America, really identified with her.

I think with Camilla, you‘re seeing a return to the silent—the consort in the shadows, who‘s there to smile and look decorous and allow her cresting (ph) husband, the Prince of Wales, to take center stage.  So it‘s almost like a shift change in the generations.  It‘s almost like going back to the Edwardian period.  And you know, if this was in sepia tones, it would be like Edward VII and Alice Keppel.

STEWART:  Well, it doesn‘t make a—matter a whit what the people reading the papers or people writing the articles think, it matters about this family, whether they‘re royal or not.  What is her relationship like with Charles‘s sons?

MORTON:  Well, the relationship has been uneasy from the start.  I mean, when Camilla first met Prince William, it was at St. James‘s Palace in central London.  And she admitted herself that she needed a gin and tonic just to steady her nerves, she was so nervous about it.  Since that time, the relationship has progressed.  Prince William and Camilla were at a public function together, as an outward sign of solidarity.

And obviously, they share a lot of interests.  Prince William and Prince Henry are both keen horsemen.  They ride to hounds.  They‘re both keen on polo.  They go shooting.  They go fishing.  Camilla‘s from that county stock.  She‘s from that—you know, the oak of England, as it were, from the—what we would call the squirearchy.

STEWART:  You are a fountain of information, and we‘re pleased to have you with us tonight.  Andrew Morton is going to stay with us through the hour.

MORTON:  Thank you.

STEWART:  Coming up: Who is Camilla Shand Parker Bowles—we touched on it for a moment—the woman who won and held onto the heart of the future king?  Also, we‘ll tell you why the late Princess Diana said her marriage was doomed because of Camilla.

You‘re watching a special MSNBC REPORTS on Charles and Camilla.  We‘ll be right back.

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STEWART:  Charles, Camilla, Diana—it was the royal love triangle that was whispered about for years.  Now Charles and the other woman are headed for the altar.  But who is Camilla Parker Bowles?  And how did she win the heart of the future king?  Here‘s NBC‘s Ann Curry.

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ANN CURRY, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  This was the photo in 1999, after the break-up of Charles and Diana, that officially said Camilla Parker Bowles was here to stay.  She‘s been the love of Prince Charles‘s life for 30 years, first as the young Camilla Shand.  When she came out as a debutante in 1965, she was described as very fancible (ph).  Slim and blond with an earthy sense of humor, she first met Prince Charles at a polo match in 1971.  And their relationship has endured, despite her marriage to another man and Prince Charles‘s marriage to Princess Diana.

Princess Diana blamed Camilla for the break-up of her marriage.  As Diana put it, there were three people in her marriage, an intolerable situation.  Princess Diana said she had a private showdown with the queen, who she called the top lady, over what to do about Camilla Parker Bowles.

Cementing their relationship was their first public kiss and Camilla‘s formal introduction to the queen.  In Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince Charles has finally found his princess.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  That was NBC News‘s Ann Curry reporting.

Clearly, Diana saw Camilla as a problem, a big problem.  And the Princess did voice her concerns in private.  In recently secret recordings that took place inside Kensington Palace in the early ‘90s, Diana said, “I remember saying to my husband, you know, Why—why is this lady around?  And he said, Well, I refuse to be the only Prince of Wales who never had a mistress.”

Andrew Morton wrote the book on Diana.  In fact, he wrote several, most recently, “Diana: In Pursuit of Love.”  And he returns to talk to us a bit more.

So what did Diana share with you about Camilla Parker?

MORTON:  Well, remember, 12 years ago, when I was first interviewing Diana for my book, “Diana: Her True Story,” no one had ever heard of Camilla Parker Bowles.  And I was astonished at the detail that Diana told me about her, how—the fact that she almost vetted Diana whilst the romance was going on with Prince Charles, was always there every time she met Prince Charles when she was just a young 19-year-old.  After the engagement, Camilla was the first one to write her a letter when she was staying at Clarence House and said, Let‘s meet for lunch, met her for lunch and said, Do you hunt?  And Diana realized subsequently that that was a way for Camilla to keep in touch with Prince Charles after the wedding.

On their honeymoon, Prince Charles was wearing cufflinks inscribed with C intertwined with C, Camilla and Charles.  Photographs of Camilla came fluttering out of his diary.  Before the wedding, Diana was considering calling the whole thing off because of that thing that Prince Charles was—heart belonged to another woman, as it‘s turned out.  So all the way through her marriage, Diana felt second best, second best to Camilla Parker Bowles and always felt that Prince Charles had a significant place in his heart for Camilla.  And as far as Diana was concerned, that was the dagger at the heart of their marriage.

STEWART:  Now, what proof did she have of her husband‘s infidelity with Parker Bowles?

MORTON:  Oh, I mean, during the engagement, when Prince Charles was going to Australia, Diana was at the airport with him and he‘s on the phone to Camilla, saying, Whatever happens, I will always love you.  And Diana burst into tears at that.  And the pictures of that were shown around the world.  People thought it was just because Diana felt sad at Prince Charles‘s parting.  Not true.  It was the fact that Camilla was a presence in his life.

Again, significantly, fast-forward to the early 1990s, when Prince Charles broke his arm in a polo accident.  Camilla was effectively, at that point, mistress at Highgrove, and it was at Highgrove that Prince Charles stayed.  And it was Camilla, not Diana, who nursed him back to health.  So all those—there were many—so many other signs and pointers.  And effectively, they were leading separate lives.  As far as Diana was concerned, Camilla ruled the roost at Highgrove, and Diana was left alone at Kensington Palace.

STEWART:  Now, for Diana, what was the most threatening thing about Camilla Parker Bowles?  Was it that closeness, that bond?

MORTON:  Well, it was the fact that she realized that Prince Charles had never truly loved her and that he loved somebody else.  And for a girl who believed in the romance of marriage, who really was determined to make her marriage work, had seen her own parents divorce and had suffered bitterly because of that, she felt betrayed, betrayed not just by Prince Charles but by the royal family because, as your correspondent mentioned, when she went to see the queen to discuss the presence of Camilla Parker Bowles, she was just kind of brushed aside because everybody—everybody inside the royal palace says—from the royal family down to the courtiers, down to the servants, all just said to her, Camilla Parker Bowles is just a friend.

And that was the myth, that was the illusion that they were trying to create, even down to the fact that Prince Charles would go off and see his mistress and instruct his valet to circle the “TV Guide” to make it seem as though he‘d spent the evening on his own.  So all the time, Diana was living a life of—where she was being deceived and where her husband and everybody else was deceiving her.

STEWART:  Now, were these two women similar in any ways, or were they completely opposites?

MORTON:  Oh, I think that they‘re very opposite.  I mean, Camilla is a hunting, shooting, fishing kind of person, a lady who likes—you know, is happy in her Wellington boots, walking through plowed fields.  Diana was a metropolitan person.  She liked the ballet.  She didn‘t—wasn‘t—she enjoyed the countryside, but not in the same way that the royal family do. 

She was—her outlook was far more international.  And she had far greater

·         far more different interests to Camilla Parker Bowles.  Also, there‘s a generational difference.  Diana was some 15 years younger than her.

STEWART:  Well, Andrew Morton, we‘re going to continue this conversation.  We thank you for being with us this evening.

Still ahead: Princess Diana talked about Camilla Parker Bowles in secretly recorded tapes.  We‘ll hear what she said next.  And what are the British people saying about this announcement?  When we continue with MSNBC REPORTS, Camilla and Charles.

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STEWART:  Welcome back.  I‘m Alison Stewart.  Thanks for being with us.

When Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles, her whole life changed.  Their marriage was scrutinized, especially when it came to Camilla Parker Bowles.  Diana never hid her feelings about Camilla.  Less than a year before her tragic death, the princess talked to documentary filmmaker and TV news correspondent Martin Bashir.  It was a wide-ranging interview, and tonight you‘re going to see some very telling excerpts, beginning with Diana‘s description of her relationship with Charles.

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DIANA:  We had unique pressures put upon us, and we both tried our hardest to cover them up, but obviously it wasn‘t to be.

MARTIN BASHIR, REPORTER:  Around 1986, again, according to the biography written by Jonathan Dimbleby about your husband, he says that your husband renewed his relationship with Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles.  Were you aware of that?

DIANA:  Yes I was, but I wasn‘t in a position to do anything about it.

BASHIR:  What evidence did you have that their relationship was continuing even though you were married?

DIANA:  Oh, a woman‘s instinct is a very good one.

BASHIR:  Is that all?

DIANA:  Well, I had, obviously I had knowledge of it.

BASHIR:  From staff?

DIANA:  Well, from people who minded and cared about our marriage, yes.

BASHIR:  What effect did that have on you?

DIANA:  Pretty devastating.  Rampant bulimia, if you can have rampant bulimia, and just a feeling of being no good at anything and being useless and hopeless and failed in every direction.

BASHIR:  And with a husband who was having a relationship with somebody else?

DIANA:  With a husband who loved someone else, yes.

BASHIR:  You really thought that?

DIANA:  I didn‘t think that, I knew it.

BASHIR:  How did you know it?

DIANA:  By the change of behavioral pattern in my husband; for all sorts of reasons that a woman‘s instinct produces; you just know.

It was already difficult, but it became increasingly difficult.

BASHIR:  In the practical sense, how did it become difficult?

DIANA:  Well, people were—when I say people I mean friends, on my husband‘s side—were indicating that I was again unstable, sick, and should be put in a home of some sort in order to get better.  I was almost an embarrassment.

BASHIR:  Do you think he really thought that?

DIANA:  Well, there‘s no better way to dismantle a personality than to isolate it.

BASHIR:  So you were isolated?

DIANA:  Very much so.

BASHIR:  Do you think Mrs Parker Bowles was a factor in the breakdown of your marriage?

DIANA:  Well, there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.

BASHIR:  You‘re effectively living separate lives, yet in public there‘s this appearance of this happily married royal couple.  How was this regarded by the royal family?

DIANA:  I think everybody was very anxious because they could see there were complications but didn‘t want to interfere, but were there, made it known that they were there if required.

BASHIR:  Do you think it was accepted that one could live effectively two lives—one in private and one in public?

DIANA:  No, because again the media was very interested about our set-up, inverted commas; when we went abroad we had separate apartments, albeit we were on the same floor, so of course that was leaked, and that caused complications.

BASHIR:  Did things come to a head?

DIANA:  Yes, slowly, yes.  My husband and I, we discussed it very calmly.

We could see what the public were requiring.  They wanted clarity of a situation that was obviously becoming intolerable.

BASHIR:  So what happened?

DIANA:  So we got the lawyers together, we discussed separation—obviously there were a lot of people to discuss it with the prime minister, her majesty—and then it moved itself, so to speak.

BASHIR:  By the December of that year, as you say, you‘d agreed to a legal separation.  What were your feelings at the time?

DIANA:  Deep, deep, profound sadness, because we had struggled to keep it going, but obviously we‘d both run out of steam.

And in a way I suppose it could have been a relief for us both that we‘d finally made our minds up.  But my husband asked for the separation and I supported it.

BASHIR:  It was not your idea?

DIANA:  No.  Not at all.  I come from a divorced background, and I didn‘t want to go into that one again.

BASHIR:  What happened next?

DIANA:  We, I asked my husband if we could put the announcement out before the children came back from school for Christmas holidays because they were protected in the school they were at.

And he did that, and it came out on December 9.  I was on an engagement up north.

I heard it on the radio, and it was just very, very sad.  Really sad. 

The fairy tale had come to an end.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  That was Princess Diana in her own words.

I would like to bring back into this conversation Andrew Morton.  He carefully followed the breakdown of Prince Charles‘ first marriage.  His most recent book is “Diana: In Pursuit of Love.”

Andrew, she said something very interesting at the top of the interview.  She said, I was not in a position to do anything about Camilla Parker Bowles.  Can you explain that? 

MORTON:  Yes.  As I was saying to you before the break, she realized that she was at the center of this conspiracy against her, that everybody was saying Camilla and Charles were just friends and that Diana was imagining things and that her suspicions were absurd. 

So she knew that she had very few allies inside the royal system and that she felt alienated from the royal system.  She felt as well that she wasn‘t even coping with royal life.  So, remember, this is a girl in her early 20s when all of this was going on, a girl who had spent most of her life as a young adult and since her marriage pregnant with either Prince William or Prince Harry. 

So, she was going through a tough time.  She was suffering from postnatal depression.  She suffered from bulimia nervosa, the eating disorder.  And I think people should remember that this marriage effectively only lasted four or five years before Prince Charles went back to Camilla Parker Bowles in the mid-1980s. 

STEWART:  The very first question I asked you at the top of our special report is, I asked you, did you think this marriage was inevitable?  Had Princess Diana lived, do you still believe that Prince Charles would have ultimately ended up married to Camilla Parker Bowles? 

MORTON:  Oh, I think, if Diana had lived, Charles and Camilla would have married a lot earlier. 

Remember, Diana herself was in pursuit of love.  She was in pursuit of some kind of union, whether it be with Dodi Fayed or with someone else.  We will never know.  But she wanted more children.  She wanted to start her life afresh probably in America. 

STEWART:  Andrew Morton, we thank you so much for your time today.  We really appreciate it. 

MORTON:  My pleasure. 

STEWART:  Still ahead, the last time Prince Charles was married, it was an enormous ceremony watched worldwide.  What can we expect from Prince Charles‘ next wedding? 

And then later, what‘s the notorious British press saying about the engagement?  And how are the British people reacting? 

Stay with us here at MSNBC. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROWAN WILLIAMS, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY:  I hope that they‘ll be kept in the prayers and thoughts of many at this time. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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STEWART:  After 30 years of heartbreak and scandal, Prince Charles is finally going to married Camilla Parker Bowles.  Do the British subjects approve? 

Stay with us. 

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STEWART:  When Prince Charles last walked down the aisle, a television audience of 750 million watched the ceremony take place at St. Paul‘s Cathedral.  But a second wedding, it will be very different. 

Here with a look at the guest list, the honeymoon and Camilla‘s dress, ITN‘s Penny Marshall. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PENNY MARSHALL, ITN REPORTER (voice-over):  He was young.  She was beautiful.  And the nation was in rapture, easy then to plan a national celebration befitting this royal occasion. 

This time, he‘s old.  She‘s very much his second wife.  And the nation is not sure.  How then to proceed and plan this wedding? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think the fact they‘re getting married in St.  George‘s Chapel makes it a little bit—a much smaller wedding.  So, I think close friends and family, a very formal, perhaps an evening do, perhaps black tie.  I can imagine Camilla in an evening dress, with some beautiful food and wine and just a very serious celebration of their marriage. 

MARSHALL:  St. George‘s Chapel Windsor is where the blessing will take place, small, private, discrete, a world away from the pomp of St. Paul‘s.  This is where Prince Edward and Sophie were married, a low-key affair which attracted small crowds and was not televised. 

Could Prince Charles follow his younger brother‘s example?  And who will receive the royal invitations?  First and foremost, family, Princes Harry and William, who have already gave their father their blessing, Tom Parker Bowles, the bride‘s son, and his sister, Laura, too, then family friends like Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and even celebrity friends like Rowan Atkinson may go.  And it‘s likely the prime minister will attend. 

How then to dress?  Could the bride choose Versace, a designer she has favored in the past? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I would imagine that Camilla is definitely not going to be wearing a big wedding dress with a long train.  She‘s much more likely to choose either a suit or a jacket and a dress, something that‘s very much in keeping with the way she dresses any way. 

MARSHALL:  Balmoral Estate in the Highlands is the honeymoon destination.  It was here that the prince spent the final part of his honeymoon with his first wife.  But there, the similarities end.  This is an older and more determined couple.  And they‘ve waited a very long time to have their day. 

Penny Marshall, ITV News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  Up next, what are the loyal British subjects saying about the engagement plans?  Apparently quite a bit. 

You‘re watching MSNBC REPORTS: “Charles and Camilla.”

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TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER:  I‘m delighted for the prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles.  It‘s very happy news.  And when the Cabinet heard it this morning, they sent congratulations and good wishes on behalf of the whole government.  We all wish them every happiness for their future together. 

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STEWART:  And that was, of course, British Prime Minister Tony Blair congratulating Charles and Camilla earlier today. 

But not everybody is as happy about the latest royal wedding. 

Here is Romilly Weeks from our British broadcasting partner ITN with the latest. 

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She was the people‘s princess.  And that‘s how she‘ll stay.  How she‘ll remain. 

ROMILLY WEEKS, ITN REPORTER (voice-over):  Following Princess Diana was never going to be an easy task for Camilla Parker Bowles.  In the wake of Diana‘s death, her popularity dropped markedly.  And our straw poll suggests she still has many to convince.  So we went, appropriately, enough to Prince of Wales pubs around the country to find out what people are really saying.  In Chelmsford, they were pretty encouraging here. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think it‘s absolutely marvelous.  Long overdue. 

WEEKS:  In Bracknell‘s Prince of Wales public, there was support, too. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s had enough practice at it, isn‘t he?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Most people get married two or three times.

WEEKS:  But this was the view in Cardiff. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  After the way Diana was treated, I just feel that it‘s not the right thing to do. 

WEEKS:  And at Charles‘ namesake in Falmouth. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Whoever he marries, it‘s not going to match up to Princess Diana. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, I‘m not very happy about it at all. 

WEEKS:  Weddings generally have the effect of bringing people around.  The difficulty for Charles and Camilla is, there‘ll always be those who can‘t forget who came before. 

Romilly Weeks, ITV News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEWART:  So, to further discuss if the British people will accept Camilla as the consort of the future king, joining me now is Tom Leonard, a correspondent for “The London Daily Telegraph.”

Thanks for coming to the studio, Tom. 

And Robert Moore, ITN correspondent in Washington, D.C.

Let‘s talk about one British person‘s reaction, Robert.  I understand you spoke to Sarah Ferguson, duchess of York, earlier today? 

ROBERT MOORE, ITN REPORTER:  That‘s right.  I interview her in New York this morning.

I think her reaction sums up the reaction of many people.  She says it Camilla happy.  It makes the prince of Wales happy.  And, therefore, it should make the British people happy as well.  That‘s what she told me this morning in New York.  And I think that‘s widely the view shared by many people. 

An ITN poll has revealed that a lot of ordinary people perhaps do oppose it.  But I think there is also the judgment of many that they‘ll come to accept it, that there‘s a recognition that Camilla and Charles have loved each other for some 30 years now and that perhaps the prince of Wales‘ position until now had been untenable.  So there‘s I think a recognition that at least it makes them happy.  And I think the British people will come to accept it in the medium term, at least. 

STEWART:  Now, Tom, you said you weren‘t as surprised as everyone else you when you heard this news.

TOM LEONARD, “LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH”:  No.

Well, certainly, when I was back in London last summer, I was following up reports then that prince of Wales had been in secret negotiations with the archbishop of Canterbury to try and work out a way in which he could marry Camilla Parker Bowles, denied at the time, officially, by both sides, that they were in negotiations, although it has to be said now it looks like the story probably had some truth in it.

But certainly, people at the time, insiders at St. James‘ Palace and Clarence House have said, yes, he does want to get married.  He doesn‘t want to be bounced into it, but he feels there‘s a certain amount of urgency to it now for a number of reasons.  The feeling was that the queen wanted something to be sorted out.  She didn‘t like the status quo as it happened. 

And also Charles felt that the continuing speculation was quite damaging.  And he also wanted to sort it out, as I—as it was put to me then, not for emotional reasons, but really just to make some kind of—to make it more—he just felt that, you know, it couldn‘t go on.

STEWART:  It just wasn‘t right? 

LEONARD:  Well, as the heir to the throne, they couldn‘t have this bizarre situation where he had this—effectively had a mistress. 

STEWART:  Yes. 

Robert, is this going to be a good thing for the royal family, you believe? 

MOORE:  Well, I think it will be. 

And I think there‘s a recognition, as I say, that it‘s been well-prepared by the establishment.  The prime minister is behind it.  The archbishop of Canterbury, Princes William and Harry said they support it.  The queen, of course, supports it.  It‘s just this riddle really left of whether the British people will support it.

Interestingly, some British papers are divided on this tomorrow.  “The Daily Express,” for example, its main front-page headline reads, “What Would Diana Say?”  So there‘s also a sense that this wedding is going to be very much in the shadow of the late princess of Wales. 

STEWART:  Tom, the way that Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles have been covered, has it been just the tabloids or has the mainstream media followed suit?  And what do you think is going to happen after they‘re married?  Will it just be tabloid fodder again? 

LEONARD:  Well, I think in terms of loyalties in where the papers were standing on this, I think, generally, it‘s been the tabloids that have led the way.  Certain papers and certain editors, some of them are no longer editing papers.  And some of Diana‘s—actually, her biggest friends in the tabloid press, are no longer in charge. 

But, certainly, some papers took sides.  And they took Diana‘s side at the time.  And they‘ll no doubt take, you know—take against this wedding. 

STEWART:  Has she been treated well, Camilla Parker Bowles, in the press in the past? 

LEONARD:  I think she‘s—to a certain extent, yes. 

I think people have respected the fact that Camilla Parker Bowles had kept her head down and tried to behave respectably over this and has—and Charles and her have tried very, very hard to try and manage their relationship in a way and to garner public acceptance by behaving with tact and...

STEWART:  A certain amount of grace, actually. 

LEONARD:  Oh, definitely, yes. 

STEWART:  Robert, an interesting idea.  I was interviewing someone earlier today who works for “Vanity Fair.”  And she made the point that perhaps Camilla being embraced by the royal family offers her a certain amount of protection at this point, because she‘s just been citizen Parker Bowles, and once she‘s within the royal family, that they will be able to set some boundaries and some rules.  Tell us a little bit more about that relationship with the press.

MOORE.  Well, I share that view.  I think she was terribly exposed in this untenable relationship until now.  And at least now, I think, you know, the establishment and indeed the British people are slowly going to come to terms with the fact that, on April the 8th, she will be marrying the heir to the throne. 

You know, I think there is a danger for Camilla, though, in the coming weeks.  She‘ll be exposed until the wedding.  She‘ll be scrutinized like never before.  I think she‘s going to play a very careful role from now on, really.  She‘ll be seen rather than heard.  She‘ll keep a low profile and try very, very hard with her palace minders to make no missteps between now and that momentous occasion at Windsor Castle on April the 8th

So I think it‘s going to be a fascinating moment in terms of the public relations side of it.  But she‘s going to be very careful to make no controversial comments and to give the tabloid editors no ammunition at all. 

STEWART:  Well, the countdown is on.  Robert Moore of ITN, thank you so much.  Tom Leonard of “The London Daily Telegraph,” thanks for coming to see us in New Jersey today.  We appreciate it. 

We‘ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEWART:  And so there you have it, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles to be married the first week in April at Windsor castle, a wedding that will be largely private, for family and friends, following a very public and lengthy courtship. 

Thanks for watching MSNBC REPORTS.  I‘m Alison Stewart. 

Coming up next, Joe Scarborough and “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”

Stay with us.  And good night.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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