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A King Who Got His Way

The debate in Britain over the potential remarriage of Prince Charles might make one believe that a royal had never divorced and remarried before.

But one has. The founder of the Church of England, no less.

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In the 16th century, Henry VIII, smitten by a woman named Anne Boleyn, wanted the pope to annul his 24-year marriage to Catherine of Aragon. The pope refused, so in 1534, Henry forced the Roman Catholic church in England to split from Rome. The church he thus created obediently granted him his request for a divorce and allowed him to remarry. Later on, Henry would divorce and remarry again.

Today, the church does not condone remarriage. A spokesman explains that when Henry broke with Rome he was still technically a Roman Catholic. "Church of England teaching on divorce is based on the Bible," the spokesman adds, not historic precedent.

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