Ms. Bedell Smith turns her lens on the British heir-in-waiting, Princes Charles. From his birth at Buckingham Palace less than a year after his parents’ wedding, to his struggles at boarding school, his first marriage to the beloved Diana, and now his time as a grandfather and oldest second-in-line to the throne, this biography examines a man who has played second fiddle his entire life. Nearing 70 with no signs of becoming king any time soon, we get a glimpse of the man: pampered yet caring, particular yet devoted to his close friends, and lonely but surrounded by people. This looks at the privileged contradiction that is the Prince of Wales.
Spoiled, often petulant, eager to force his internal musings on professional audiences, and prone to rather juvenile behavior, Bedell Smith does go to significant lengths to humanize and even sometimes excuse Charles’ antics. She talks about his nearly 15 years of therapy to process the difficulties he experienced in his first marriage, his distant parents, the heavy burden of his royal and societal expectations, and the inaccuracies and exaggerations Diana made when making the public case against her estranged husband. It’s not that the facts are hard to believe, but that Charles as a whole is hard to find sympathetic. His tendency to lecture professionals (in arenas where he’s had no formal education nor practical experience) and force untenable circumstances on audiences and businesses he barely understands (such as coercing country farmers to adopt austere organic practices which severely cut into their bottom line and negatively impacted their business) seems at best meddling and at worse grossly irresponsible. Prince Charles is ready with advice when he’s had no real world education or perspective to properly inform himself on the matters. No matter how opinionated, thoughtful, or sensitive his friends claim he is, his sometimes boorish comments and actions undermine the “Renaissance man” image he likes to project.
Royal aficionados will find nothing much new here but it is an in depth look at a completely unique individual. I think it’s safe to say there are few even remotely like him anywhere in the world. Whether or not he will make a good king is still up in the air for most, I imagine, but this book provides the most perspective on the man the public will ever get.
Amazon link is here.