Queen to Skip Charles' Civil Marriage

Buckingham Palace said Tuesday that Queen Elizabeth II (search) would not attend the civil marriage ceremony of her son Prince Charles (search) and Camilla Parker Bowles (search) — but that her absence should not be interpreted as a snub.

The monarch will attend the church blessing at Windsor Castle (search) after the April 8 civil ceremony in the local town hall and will host the wedding reception at the castle.

"The queen will not be attending the civil ceremony because she is aware that the prince and Mrs. Parker Bowles wanted to keep the occasion low key," a palace spokeswoman said. "The queen and the rest of the royal family will, of course, be going to the service of dedication at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle."

The spokeswoman denied the queen was snubbing her son's second marriage.

"The queen is attending the service of dedication and paying for the reception — this is not a snub," she said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The queen's prime concern is that the civil ceremony should be as low key as possible, in line with the couple's wishes," said the palace spokeswoman. "Clearly if the queen were to attend, the occasion would no longer be, by definition, low key."

The palace spokeswoman could not say whether the queen's husband and Charles' father, Prince Philip, would attend the civil ceremony.

A spokesman for Prince Charles' office said Charles' sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, and Parker Bowles's grown children, Tom and Laura, were expected to attend the civil wedding in the Guildhall at Windsor.

The royal household has said Charles will not have a best man. Heirs to the throne are usually accompanied by two "supporters" — the royal term for best man — when they wed, and it had been speculated that William and Harry would perform the role.

But a spokesman for Charles said he will not follow this tradition.

"There will be no best man or royal supporters. It's not that sort of wedding," said the spokesman. "The two boys will have a role throughout the wedding in so much as being by their father's side."

The civil ceremony, which will be followed by a blessing led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, is designed in part to allay concerns of Anglican traditionalists. The Church of England — of which Charles will become titular head when he takes the throne — traditionally frowns on church remarriages for divorcees whose spouses are still alive.

Charles, 56, divorced Princes Diana in 1996 and she died in a car accident the next year. Parker Bowles, 57, also is divorced, and her ex-husband is living.