Britain's royals hold management meeting
September 17, 1996
Web posted at: 6:20 p.m. EDT (2220 GMT)
LONDON (CNN) -- Members of "The Firm" gathered Monday for a
management retreat at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, to discuss
the future of the family business, Britain's monarchy.
Reportedly on the royal agenda: the royal financing from
taxpayer money, the legacies of passing first to male heirs,
and the relationship between crown and church.
A spokeswoman at Buckingham Palace said it was one of a
regular series of gatherings about the future of the family.
Queen Elizabeth II is said to have founded a kind of royal
strategic planning group after getting through 1992, the year
she called her "annus horribilis."
"The purpose of the 'Way Forward Group' is simply to do, in a
formal way, what the royal family in Britain has always
done," said Rodney Barker of the London School of Economics.
That involves reassessing its image and roles in light of
changing circumstances and public expectations, Barker said.
In attendance: the Queen, her husband and children as well as
members of her inner circle, and for at least part of the
meeting, British Prime Minister John Major.
Media reports say the family is split into two factions, with
older members wanting to adhere to tradition and Prince
Charles leading calls for a more modern approach.
"The royal family isn't in as bad a state as it appears to
be, but they have no power," said Ingrid Seward of Majesty
"The only power they have is by the respect that the people
have for them, and if people lose that respect they have
Prince Charles' much-talked-about relationship with Camilla
Parker Bowles may have come up, according to royal watchers.
"It probably would have been mentioned to the Queen by the
prime minister and she would speak to Charles herself about
it," Seward said.
The meeting could also have included talk of changing a
centuries-old law banning England's Protestant monarch from
marrying a Catholic. The law would let a royal marry a pagan,
but not a Catholic, Barker said. (10 sec/119K AIFF or WAV sound)
Charles has indicated he would like to see a new approach to
religion, styling himself "Defender of Faiths" rather than
"Defender of the Faith" -- a title bestowed by the Pope on
Henry VIII before he broke away from Rome to establish the
Church of England in the 16th century.
Respect for the 1,000-year-old monarchy is low after the
messy divorces this year of heir to the throne Charles, from
Princess Diana, and Andrew from the Duchess of York, the
former Sarah Ferguson.
But some royals watchers deny the meeting is about crisis
management, maintaining it is simply the House of Windsor
putting its house in order.
Correspondent Margaret Lowrie and Reuters contributed to this report.
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