British royal Queen Elizabeth II has shown her approval of son Prince CHARLES's marriage to fiancee CAMILLA PARKER BOWLES - by providing the bride-to-be' $950,000 (GBP500,000) engagement ring.

The Queen made a huge gesture of support for the union by giving them the eight-carat jewel, which KING GEORGE VI bought for the late QUEEN MOTHER when she became pregnant with the Queen.

Royal author JUDY WADE explains, "The fact that he knows he has his family's blessings will be of huge importance to him.

"It shows that Camilla is accepted as the newest member of the monarchy. She will no longer have to hide in the shadows. It will come as a great comfort to the couple.

"It will also help Camilla fit in. It will have given her a huge confidence boost when she learned about the history of the ring. Family heirlooms like this are not given away to just anyone."

Royal biographer PENNY JUROR adds, "It is a perfectly judged gesture by the Queen. And I am sure the Queen Mother would have approved. All she ever wanted was for Charles to be happy."

13/02/2005 10:47