Nothing has done more to create that impression than the decision by Prince Charles on Monday to postpone his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles, initially set for Friday, by one day to permit Prime Minister Tony Blair and the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, head of the Church of England, to attend the papal burial rather than a royal wedding.
Even Charles himself - representative of a monarchy that broke with Rome in the 16th century - is planning to attend the funeral on behalf of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, the head of state. That makes this country one of the few to be represented at the funeral by church, state and government.
“The funeral of a pope, let us be clear, has never until now been the sort of event deemed to require the attendance of the British prime minister - or even the archbishop of Canterbury,” Martin Kettle wrote in his column in The Guardian. “It is hard not to catch one’s breath at the rupture with national history that all this represents.”
Or, as Mr. Almond put it, “Henry VIII must be turning in his Windsor grave.”