Chapter no 48


THERE MUST HAVE BEEN something in the air. Just as I was embarking on my new romance, Pa announced that he’d decided to marry. He’d asked Granny’s

permission, and she’d granted it. Reluctantly, it was reported.

Despite Willy and me urging him not to, Pa was going ahead. We pumped his hand, wished him well. No hard feelings. We recognized that he was finally going to be with the woman he loved, the woman he’d always loved, the woman Fate might’ve intended for him in the first place. Whatever bitterness or sorrow we felt over the closing of another loop in Mummy’s story, we understood that it was beside the point.

Also, we sympathized with Pa and Camilla as a couple. They’d taken star-crossed to new levels. After years of thwarted longing, they were now just a few steps from happiness…and new obstacles kept appearing. First there was the controversy over the nature of the ceremony. Courtiers insisted it would have to be a civil ceremony, because Pa, as future supreme governor of the Church of England, couldn’t marry a divorcée in the church. That set off a furious debate about locations. If the civil ceremony were to be held at Windsor Castle, the couple’s first choice, then Windsor would first need to be licensed for civil weddings, and if that were to happen then everyone in Britain would be allowed to have their civil weddings there. No one wanted that.

The decision was therefore made that the wedding would take place at Windsor Guildhall.

But then the Pope died.

Bewildered, I asked Willy: What’s the Pope got to do with Pa?

Loads, it turned out. Pa and Camilla didn’t want to get married on the same day the Pope was being laid to rest. Bad karma. Less press. More to the point, Granny wanted Pa to represent her at the funeral.

The wedding plans were changed yet again.

Delay after delay—if you listened carefully you could hear, wafting across the Palace grounds, the shrieks and groans of despair. You just couldn’t tell whose they were: the wedding planner’s or Camilla’s (or Pa’s).

Other than feeling sorry for them, I couldn’t help but think that some force in the universe (Mummy?) was blocking rather than blessing their union. Maybe the universe delays what it disapproves of?

When the wedding did finally take place—without Granny, who chose not to attend—it was almost cathartic for everyone, even me. Standing near the altar I mostly kept my head bowed, eyes on the floor, just as I had during Mummy’s funeral, but I did sneak several long peeks at the groom and the bride and each time I thought: Good for you.

Though, also: Goodbye.

I knew without question that this marriage would take Pa away from us. Not in any real sense, not in any deliberate or malicious way, but nevertheless—away. He was entering a new space, a closed space, a tightly insular space. Willy and I would see less of Pa, I predicted, and that left me with mixed feelings. I didn’t relish losing a second parent, and I had complex feelings about gaining a step-parent who, I believed, had recently sacrificed me on her personal PR altar. But I

saw Pa’s smile and it was hard to argue with that, and harder still to deny the cause: Camilla. I wanted so many things, but I was surprised to discover at their wedding that one of the things I wanted most, still, was for my father to be happy.

In a funny way I even wanted Camilla to be happy. Maybe she’d be less dangerous if she was happy?

There are published reports that Willy and I snuck out of the church and hung

JUST MARRIED signs on their car. I don’t think so. I might’ve hung a sign: BE HAPPY.

If I’d thought of it at the time.

I do remember watching them drive off and thinking: They’re happy. They’re really happy.

Damn, I’d like all of us to be happy.

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