Royal experts have described Queen Elizabeth's decision to stay away from the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles as unprecedented while Buckingham Palace moved swiftly to deny it was a snub.
“We are into unknown territories with this decision and one can only speculate on the reason why,” said constitutional historian Dr David Starkey.
“It could be security, that she doesn’t approve, or that she doesn’t care, a position which would unite her with the majority of her subjects.
“There has been no real precedent of this, and let’s remember we are dealing with the wedding of the heir to the throne, where there has been this kind of distance.”
Royal expert Dickie Arbiter said the Queen’s decision to stay away from the civil service would be seen as a snub to the couple, who are both divorced.
He said: “I think any parent would be a bit fed up with the way this has unfolded. When it was announced there was a tremendous fanfare but the goalposts have moved considerably.”
And he warned: “I do not think we have seen the end of it. There will be a lot more to come.”
Asked if the Queen’s decision was a royal snub, a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman replied: “The Queen is attending the service of dedication and paying for the reception – this is not a snub.”
However the Sun’s royal photographer, Arthur Edwards, said the arrangements for the wedding had so far been “a catalogue of cock-ups”.
“This is a lame excuse. The reason she is not going, it seems to me, is that it is a civil ceremony in a registry office and she does not feel she should be there.”
Prince William and Prince Harry, along with Mrs Parker Bowles’ children, Tom and Laura, will be present at the April 8 civil wedding in the Guildhall at Windsor, it is understood.
Buckingham Palace said last night: “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.
“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. She is very pleased to be giving the wedding reception at the castle.”
The Palace declined to comment on speculation that police had warned the Queen against attending on security grounds.
“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.”