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QUEEN'S BARBECUE DATE WITH CAMILLA; But will this lead to trip down aisle?

THE Queen has officially met her eldest son's lover for the first time at a 60th birthday party.

Royal watchers see this apparent seal of approval as paving the way for Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles to marry.

The Queen attended a party hosted by both Charles and Camilla in a clear sign that the long-running rift between the monarch and her son's mistress was finally healed.

The barbecue at Charles's country home, Highgrove House, was organised in honour of King Constantine of Greece. It was also attended by Princes William and Harry.

Last night, a source at the Palace said: "Charles was delighted his mother agreed to attend. And he was particularly pleased because the party was held on his territory."

The Queen refused to set foot in her son's Gloucester home when Camilla organised a party there for his 50th birthday.

At the time, she was quoted as saying "over my dead body" when a meeting with Camilla was suggested.

But she could scarcely have chosen a more public occasion to end the hostilities with the woman who captured her son's heart.

The party was the largest gathering of European royalty since Prince Andrew's wedding to Sarah Ferguson in 1986.

Such was the distance between the Queen and Camilla that it is believed they had never been formally introduced before. It is 20 years since they were in the same company.

A Royal source said last night: "Charles told his mother that it was both his and Camilla's party. She was made aware that Camilla would be there and the Prince said they would be thrilled if she were to attend.

"The party broke up later in the afternoon, but by all accounts went extremely well. Charles is delighted."

The couple organised a comedian to provide some light entertainment for the guests.

The insider added: "It was a very informal affair. It was not a formal sit-down meal.

"King Constantine is a close friend of both Charles and Camilla, and that was emphasised when the Queen was invited."

Last night, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "The Queen attended a party given by the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles at Highgrove.

"It was an informal lunch given for King Constantine of Greece. Of course, the Prince of Wales was very pleased his mother attended."

Previously, the Queen had blamed Camilla for a great deal of damage inflicted on the Royal Family.

She was said to regard Camilla as an adultress and was also aware of a significant swathe of public opinion that blamed her for Charles's divorce. One Royal observer revealed last night that the Queen was saying in private recently that she wished for and end to the cat-and-mouse game with Camilla - the person she called "that much-maligned woman".

Royal watchers described the Prince's reaction as "delighted, pleased and grateful" that the meeting had taken place.

Lord St John of Fawlsley said last night: "The Church of England's attitude towards remarriage is being redeveloped. The decision is based on the behaviour of the parties concerned. It has been a question of judgment for the church to decide whether Mrs Parker Bowles played an innocent or blameless part in the break up of the Prince's marriage."

Another Royal insider said: "The Prince will be very relieved the Queen has met Camilla Parker Bowles.

"I had been briefed for the last 20 months that the Queen did not want to meet her.

"It is the first time in 20 years that they have set eyes on one another."

It is now rumoured in Royal circles that Mrs Parker Bowles could be included in the Queen Mother's 100th birthday celebrations.

But another Royal observer said: "I cannot believe that Camilla Parker Bowles is going to be at Clarence House on August 4 when the Queen Mother is celebrating her birthday."

The move, he said, would go against ordinary public opinion, which is still hostile to Camilla.

He added: "Most people throughly approve that the Queen has been having nothing to do with Camilla, and people support Her Majesty for having nothing to do with her."
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Author:Anderson, Deborah
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 4, 2000
Words:687
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