An "ex" gets Royal approval

Meaning that "exes" are now respectable. Many marriages these days have a third party: the former husband or wife of one member of the couple, the "ex". It's particularly common in Australia for former partners to remain friendly and continue to have some role in one-another's lives.

I am myself in that position. I regularly see an ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend. And I value both friendships greatly. My present girfriend grumbles about it, though. She says it does not happen in her home country in Southern Europe

As Harry and Meghan are 5,000 miles away in California, and Prince Andrew is banned from polite society, the King's vision of a 'slimmed-down' monarchy is looking too skinny.

So step forward a new member of 'The Firm'.

I can reveal that Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles carried out his first royal duty on behalf of the Queen Consort on Tuesday.

He formally represented his ex-wife at a funeral — and friends claim it could be the first engagement of many. '

Andrew is happy to do anything he is asked,' one of his friends tells me. 'He still enjoys a warm relationship with Camilla.'

The news was recorded in the Court Circular, the official record of royal engagements.

'The Queen Consort was represented by Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles,' it says of his attendance at the funeral of John Bowes-Lyon at the London Oratory. Bowes-Lyon, who died last month aged 80, was a second cousin of the late Queen.

Formally representing Camilla meant Parker Bowles, 82, was given a prominent pew at the Roman Catholic church.

He and Camilla, who married in 1973, have two children. They separated in the 1980s, finally divorcing in 1995, with a royal biographer once remarking: 'It is said that an English gentleman will always lay down his wife for his country and this was certainly true in the case of Andrew Parker Bowles.'

Camilla married Prince Charles in 2005, while Parker Bowles exchanged vows with Rosemary Pitman in 1996. She died in 2010.

Parker Bowles and Bowes-Lyon were cousins. Their great-uncle was the legendary roué Raymund de Trafford


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