Prince Charles has provoked a storm of media attention by announcing he will not attend his godson's wedding. He is believed to have pulled out of the event because his companion Camilla Parker Bowles was obliged to sit several rows away from him.
According to press reports, Camilla was also expected to arrive for the ceremony separately and travel to the reception in a different car. But in a move that is sure to emphasise the significance of her partner's decision, she has pulled out of the wedding too. "Mrs Parker Bowles, in the absence of the Prince of Wales, has decided not to attend," revealed a Clarence House spokesman.
The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Princes William and Harry will all be present when Edward van Cutsem ties the knot with Lady Tamara Grosvenor on Saturday. But the future king will spend the afternoon visiting families of the Black Watch soldiers, who are currently serving in Iraq, instead.
The Prince of Wales has long-standing friendships with the fathers of both bride and groom. Relations are thought to be frosty between Camilla and Edward's mother Emilie van Cutsem, however. The two are understood to have had a falling out after each made negative remarks about the other's children.
News of the Prince's decision is being taken as further evidence that he sees his relationship with Camilla as non-negotiable. As if to underline the point, he will spend Wednesday evening at the launch of a new book by her son, Tom Parker Bowles, who is another of his godchildren.