BUCKINGHAM Palace moved swiftly to deny last night what was seen in many quarters to be a snub by the Queen in deciding not to attend Prince Charles's wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles.

She will, however, attend the church blessing following the civil ceremony, the palace confirmed.

Buckingham Palace said: "The Queen will not be attending the civil ceremony because she is aware that the Prince and Mrs Parker Bowles wanted to keep the occasion low-key.

"The Queen and the rest of the Royal Family will, of course, be going to the service of dedication at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

"She is very pleased to be giving the wedding reception at the castle."

Royal expert Dickie Arbiter said the Queen's decision to stay away from the civil service would be seen as a snub to the couple, who are both divorced.

He said: "I think any parent would be a bit fed up with the way this has unfolded.

"When it was announced there was a tremendous fanfare, but the goalposts have moved considerably."

And he warned: "I do not think we have seen the end of it. There will be a lot more to come."

Asked if the Queen's decision was a royal snub, a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman replied: "The Queen is attending the service of dedication and paying for the reception.

"This is not a snub."

But the Sun's royal photographer, Arthur Edwards, said the arrangements for the wedding had so far been "a catalogue of cockups".

"It is just another snub," he told Sky News.

"This is your mother. Mothers always go to your wedding, whoever or wherever you are.

"This is a lame excuse. The reason she is not going, it seems to me, is that it is a civil ceremony in a register office and she does not feel she should be there."

Prince William and Prince Harry, along with Mrs Parker Bowles's children, Tom and Laura, will be present at the April 8 civil wedding, in the Guildhall at Windsor, it is understood.

A spokesman for Prince Charles said details of the civil ceremony had yet to be finalised.

The civil ceremony was last week switched from Windsor Castle to the Guildhall, Windsor's town hall, after a licensing blunder.

Apparently, royal aides failed to realise that the licence required for the civil wedding to take place in the castle would run for three years.

This would have meant that anyone could have applied to be married in the castle during that time.

The Guildhall, although designed by Sir Christopher Wren, is a comparatively modest venue for a royal wedding.

The switch also means that Charles and Camilla's arrival and departure from the Guildhall will be seen by members of the public, some of whom could contest the legality of the ceremony.

Despite the opinion of Government legal experts, leading lawyers have expressed doubt that the prince can be married outside church.

The dispute centres on the interpretation of legislation dating from 1836 and 1949.

Under the 1836 Marriage Act, members of the Royal Family are explicitly barred from marrying in a civil ceremony.

The 1949 Marriage Act, which formalised civil marriages, superseded the 1836 Act but included a clause saying: "Nothing in this Act shall affect any law or custom relating to the marriage of members of the Royal Family."

Some legal experts argue that this wording means the 1949 Act does not apply to the Royal Family.

If this is the case, Charles and Camilla are still bound by the 1836 law and cannot be married in a civil ceremony.

In such circumstances, only emergency legislation could rescue the wedding and make it legal.

The legal experts point to a precedent set during the 1950s, when the Royal Family was advised by the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Kilmuir, that it would be impossible for Princess Margaret to marry divorcee Peter Townsend in a civil ceremony