Fairy tale marriage turns out to be a royal pain

Once upon a time, long, long ago in a country far, far away, Prince Charming married his beautiful Princess and they lived happily ever after.

But life being what it is -- which is to say, just one damn thing after another -- this halcyon period in the history of royal marriages was relatively brief. What followed was not pretty.


Unhappy kings and princes began trying a number of techniques to get rid of the queens and princesses who no longer pleased their fancies.

There was, you may recall, the beheading technique, the get-thee-to-a-nunnery scheme, the banishment to an out-of-the-way castle gambit and the always popular let's-establish-a-new-religion-that-allows- us-to-have-many-wives ploy.


Time, however, marches on: Beheading is no longer politically correct and it gets tougher and tougher to get a new religion off the ground. So royalty, along with the rest of us, has had to adapt to change.

Which brings us to the sad case of Prince Charles and the fair Diana, Princess of Wales.

We are told, alas, that the marriage that began as a modern-day fairy tale is in disarray. Big time disarray. Both Diana and Charles are reported to be involved with someone outside of the marriage: she with a lover who calls her "Squidgy" and he with a married woman to whom he is reported to have said, "I adore you."

Incidentally, it does occur to me at this point that if I had to choose between a lover who called me "Squidgy" and one who said, "I adore you," the latter would win. Hands down.

But to get back to Charles and Diana, the big question now is: Can this marriage be saved?

And the answer? Well, it seems to lie in two little words: "The Arrangement."

Yes, dear reader, the Royals are different from you and me. They have "The Arrangement."

It is a deal, according to accounts in the British newspapers, that permits the couple to maintain separate his-and-her castles and lead separate lives while remaining married. It also allows them to avoid a custody battle over their two young children and all the troublesome constitutional questions that would accompany a divorce involving the future king of England.


The Royal Couple would attend state functions together and spend major holidays together with their children. There might even be the occasional family dinner or outing together with the children. Minus the arguments, of course.

Reading such speculation, it suddenly occurred to me: "The Arrangement" is precisely the kind of marriage many women have been looking for. Myself included.

It's a deal that allows complete autonomy in such matters as home decor (flowered chintz), choice of pets (Persian cats), house temperatures (really hot in the winter and really cold in the summer), and shopping for foodstuffs (whenever there's nothing left in the refrigerator).

It's a deal that also guarantees lots of personal closet space, a bathroom in which you can hang your stockings to dry without being criticized, the option of eating in bed when you want to and a lifetime guarantee that you will never have to watch "Monday Night Football" again.

The irony is that while many women I know agree they'd love "The Arrangement," they also know it's not what the simple folk do.

"I would love 'The Arrangement,' " says a married friend, the mother of three teen-agers. "But I would like an arrangement where we had three separate residences: one for me, one for my husband and one for the children. They'd never go for it, though."


"So what's Diana whining about?" is the way another friend puts it. "She's got great clothes, free swim privileges and free world travel. I think she should just live out her life in a giant castle with her jewels and her public appearances and her sons and many handsome lovers. Doesn't sound so bad to me."

Nor to me.

But contrary to what you might assume, many men do not like the idea of marriages that even hint at some of the implications inherent in "The Arrangement." Which is to say less togetherness and less dependence between partners. Or as one male friend said: "I need to have the woman I'm having a relationship with right there beside me."

Which, I suppose, is what Prince Charles wants. The messy part, of course, is that the woman he wants is not Diana.