Britain's king-in-waiting, Prince Charles, is to marry Camilla Parker Bowles, the woman widely blamed for the collapse of his first marriage to the late Princess Diana. The wedding is set for April 8 at Windsor Castle.
Charles's parents, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, say they are very happy for the couple. His sons, Princes William and Harry, say they are delighted.
Prime Minister Tony Blair also welcomes the engagement.
"It is 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," he said.
The announcement ends much speculation about the future of Prince Charles and Mrs. Parker Bowles, who became romantically involved in the 1970s and continued their relationship after they both married other people.
The prince's first wife, the late Princess Diana, in a famous interview on British television after her separation from Charles, blamed Mrs. Parker Bowles for the collapse of her marriage.
"Well, there were three of us in this marriage. So it was a bit crowded," she said.
Two of the biggest questions hanging over the marriage have been resolved. Mrs. Parker Bowles will not be queen when and if Charles becomes monarch. She will be known as Princess Consort.
Also, the couple will be wed in a civil ceremony so as to not offend Church of England members who oppose the remarriage of divorcees. Mrs. Parker Bowles is divorced and her former husband is still alive. The issue is delicate because as king, Charles would head the Church of England.
In 1936, King Edward the VIII abdicated so he could marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson.
But many royal watchers say times have changed, and the couple has gotten tacit approval from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
"A marriage is a matter for the persons involved. It is a decision of great import, great significance for these individuals," Archbishop Williams said. "I hope that will be respected, and as I said earlier, I hope that many people will hold them in their prayers."
The latest opinion polls show nearly one-third of Britons favor the marriage, a little less than one-third oppose it, and another third do not care.