Never mind that her uncle had to give up his throne over a divorce in the family. This is 1978 and Margaret Rose's final trip toward the courts has raised more British headlines than eyebrows.
People no longer resign from office, even abroad, because, you see the public is resigned to divorce.
From all reports, the average Briton has reacted to the news of the princess's Un-Nuptials with the passion Rhett Butler showed in his exit line. Frankly, Margaret, they don't give a damn.
Wally Simpeon's divorce may have caused a scandal in the 30s. But it was Margaret Armstrong-Jone's marriage that caused a scandal in the 70s. Her Unmarriage sounds rather like A Return to Normalcy.
In part, the British restraint comes from centuries of breeding and two years of royal separation. BUt it's also typical of times. It's the couples celebrating their golden anniversary these days that seem extraordinary - popularty regarded as 1) Lucky, or 2) Unimaginative. The couples celebrating their rupture, on the other hand, seem perfectly ordinary.
In the 1970s it is considered a breach of taste and an invasions of privacy to ask a husband and wife if they're planning to have any children. It is certifiably okay to greet a casual friend with the question "Are you married?"
But now with one split for every two weddings it seems that the divorced once the objects of censure and then the objects of pity, have become the subjects of neglect.
Those who are part of such a massive statistic can feel like just another digit. Their co-workers and friends - all the people who never know whether to congratulate them or commiserate with them - often ignore them.
Everyone I know who has gone through the process has been commitably insane for six months and mentally incompetent for four more. They have been afflicted with every known mental illness from insomnia to the Heartbreak of Satyriasis. The only people who don't go crazy are the ones who are really crazy.
But the problem is that now their overburdened friends seem to expect instant recovery. The "splitees" are permitted one public breakdown, two weeks or depression, three days of anger and 36 hours of confusion. For a first divorce. At theend of that time they are expected to pull themselves together, for heaven's sakes.
I know a man, for example, who spent six weeks postpartum living with all of his earthly remains in a Chevy station wagon. Whenever he describes that time he gets carsick. But when he finally divulged his pain to a friend, the man laughed and said, "You think that's bad; I know a guy who's living in a VM."
An ex-wife left by her husband for his now second wife says that it was had enough to feel trapped in somebody reminded of it with a fleeting "You, too?"
If that isn't enough, consider the man who came out of court recently wringing wet. After he crawled back to his desk, his secretary took one look at him and said, "Gee, I didn't know divorce was such a big deal these days." He responded through his teeth, "You mean in general or in specific?"
With so high a marital accident rate we all behave like hospital administrators trying to empty the wards for the next victim.We simply have more patients than patience.
I suspect that any pain that's wide-spread starts being trivialized, it's easy to forget that the experience that is ordinary to the statistician is still extraordinary to the individual.
Today even a member of royalty can discover that, in divorce, she's treated commonly.