LONDON – In Parliament, in the financial district known as the City and on the dampened streets of London, Britons welcomed Prince Charles' (search) surprise announcement Thursday that he would marry his divorced lover Camilla Parker Bowles (search) — putting complications and controversy aside for one day.
Within minutes of Charles' announcement, it was hard to find anyone on the streets of central London who had not heard the news.
"We've all been expecting that sooner or later," said Dina Pine, 73, a retired restaurant owner. "But I don't think she should be queen."
Bonita Archibald, a 39-year-old hairdresser, said, "I'm fine with him marrying her. They seem to suit each other."
She said Prince Charles should be given the benefit of the doubt in such decisions, even though he has been known for occasional gaffes.
"Charles seems to have his head screwed on," Archibald said.
Few people had heard the divorcees will marry in a civil ceremony at Windsor Castle and not in the Church of England, that Parker Bowles will be called Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall after the marriage, and that she will be known as the princess consort, not the queen, when Charles becomes king.
The decision for a civil service reflects the fact that both are divorcees and that Parker Bowles' ex-husband is still living. In general, the Church of England, the legally established faith of the nation, disapproves of the remarriage of divorced people in church.
As Britain's monarch, Prince Charles would be the supreme governor of the Church of England.
Queen Elizabeth II (search) said she was very happy about the pending marriage, and Charles' sons, William and Harry, were said to be "delighted" by the news, according to a spokesman for Charles' office.
The House of Commons burst into cheers at the announcement, and Sarah Ferguson (search), the Duchess of York, said it was time for the public to forget about royal tragedies of the past and welcome Parker Bowles into the fold.
Ferguson, who is divorced from Prince Andrew, Charles' brother, said through a spokeswoman in the United States that she "is very happy for" the engaged couple.
Winston Churchill, the grandson of Britain's wartime prime minister, said they are entitled to be happy together.
"They are clearly very much in love. It must be the end of a series of nightmare years for Camilla, every day reading in the papers about being the mistress this and that. They are entitled to have their own happiness the same as everyone else," Churchill told Sky News.
Asked how he thought the British public would react, veteran broadcaster Sir David Frost said: "I think there will be quite a bit of controversy for 24 hours, but then I think everyone will be happy and feel that Prince Charles deserves his happiness."
Grocer Phillip Way, 37, said he did not care who Charles married.
"We could have Queen Camilla or the Queen of Sheba, and it would make no difference to me," he said with a laugh. "Who do you think the best man is going to be?"
Chris Morris, 54, a building engineer, said he believed Charles was smart to marry Parker Bowles before becoming king. But whatever happens, Parker Bowles will never be as popular as Princess Diana, Morris said.
"Diana is still in so many people's hearts," he said. "Queen Camilla wouldn't be so popular."
Charles divorced Diana in 1996, a year before she was killed in a Paris car crash, and some Britons believe the long-standing Charles-Parker Bowles affair was the main reason the Charles-Diana marriage fell apart.
Joe Stolerman, 17, a student, said that if Parker Bowles ever became queen "I'm sure she won't be well-received."
Paul Curley, a computer systems manager, 33, said he did not care about the royal family, adding that "they are more for tourists than for us."
But he also said, "It's not going to be an easy ride for Camilla."