LONDON -- The prince and princess of Wales have decided to separate, Prime Minister John Major announced Wednesday.NEWLN: more
The prime minister stressed Prince Charles and Princess Diana have no plans to divorce. The separation will not affect Charles's position as heir to the throne and will not prevent the immensely popular Diana from becoming queen, he said.
'Their constitutional positions are unaffected. This decision has been reached amicably and they will both continue to participate fully in the upbringing of their children,' Major told a silent House of Commons at Westminster.
'Their royal highnesses will continue to carry out full and separate programs of public engagements and will from time to time attend family occasions and national events together,' he said.
'The queen and the duke of Edinburgh are very saddened, understand and sympathize with the difficulties that have led to this decision.
'Her majesty and his royal highness particularly hope that the intrusions into the privacy of the prince and princess may now cease,' Major said.
Major's comments were met with a rousing chorus of support from the assembled politicians in the crowded chamber.
'They believe that a degree of privacy and understanding is essential,' Major said.NEWLN: more
After the brief statement, Major said he was sure he spoke for the whole House 'and millions of people beyond it in offering our support to both the prince and the princess of Wales.
'I am also sure that the House will sympathize with the wish that they should both be afforded a degree of privacy,' he said.
Major, who canceled a scheduled meeting with European Community President Jacques Delor to address the Parliament, stressed the decision to separate had no constitutional implications.
'The succession to the throne is unaffected by it,' he said. 'The children of the prince and princess retain their position in the line of succession.'NEWLN: more