Prince Charles has revealed he will marry Camilla Parker Bowles, sparking intense debate about whether his divorced, longtime lover should become queen.

A top aide confirmed the shock news to Reuters. Charles' office promised to announce more details of the wedding soon, which is expected to take place at Windsor Castle on April 6.

Parker Bowles is the great love of Charles' life -- the pair met in their 20s at a polo match -- but the 58-year-old mother of two has faced an uphill struggle to rival his former wife, the late Princess Diana, in the public's affection.

Charles, 56, was divorced in 1996 from Diana, who blamed "rottweiler" Parker Bowles and the prying media for the break-up. Diana died in a Paris car crash in 1997.

Since then, and after years of choreographed appearances, Parker Bowles has been accepted as Charles' partner.
As monarch, Charles would also assume a titular role as head of the Church of England, which is divided over the propriety of marrying divorcees.
Charles' sons William and Harry have now accepted Parker Bowles, who shares official rooms with him at his London residence.
QUEEN CAMILLA? "The issue is whether she will take the full style and title of Princess of Wales and whether any children would have any place in the succession," Dr David Starkey, historian and constitutional expert, told Reuters. "She would have to take the status of Prince Charles and ultimately that of queen unless there is legislation passed to the contrary," he said.
Charles and Camilla had a two-year love affair after first meeting in 1971 but Camilla then married cavalry officer Andrew Parker Bowles, divorcing him in 1995.

Charles admitted in 1994 that he and Camilla had resumed their affair after his marriage had irretrievably broken down.
Diana memorably said on national television "there were three of us in the marriage, so it was a bit crowded", while he was secretly taped sharing intimate pillow talk with his lover.

Biographer Penny Junor said: "This will divide opinion and some people will think it is the end of the world. But once it has happened, people will accept it. "He's very much in love with her and she with him. That's just the way it is