By Tom Hundley, Chicago Tribune Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 11--LONDON -- Well, finally.
Ending years of public speculation and national debate, Prince Charles, heir to England's throne, announced Thursday he will marry his longtime love, Camilla Parker Bowles. According to British law, Charles, 56, needed his mum's permission, and his mum, Queen Elizabeth II, has given it.
The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, offered the couple their "warmest good wishes for their future together," according to a statement issued by Buckingham Palace.
Charles and Parker Bowles' first public appearance as a betrothed couple came at a Windsor Castle dinner party Thursday evening. Parker Bowles was wearing an impressive diamond engagement ring, said to be a royal heirloom, and told her friends that the prince went down on bended knee to propose.
The announcement was made earlier in the day by Clarence House, the prince's official residence, and immediately rekindled old arguments about Parker Bowles' suitability.
The wedding will be April 8. The prince and Parker Bowles will …