Sally Bedell Smith returns once again to the British royal family to give us a new look at Prince Charles, the oldest heir to the throne in more than three hundred years. Read more...
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Sally Bedell Smith returns once again to the British royal family to give us a new look at Prince Charles, the oldest heir to the throne in more than three hundred years. This vivid, eye-opening biography--the product of four years of research and hundreds of interviews with palace officials, former girlfriends, spiritual gurus, and more, some speaking on the record for the first time--is the first authoritative treatment of Charles's life that sheds light on the death of Diana, his marriage to Camilla, and his preparations to take the throne one day. Prince Charles brings to life the real man, with all of his ambitions, insecurities, and convictions. It begins with his lonely childhood, in which he struggled to live up to his father's expectations and sought companionship from the Queen Mother and his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten. It follows him through difficult years at school, his early love affairs, his intellectual quests, his entrepreneurial pursuits, and his intense search for spiritual meaning. It tells of the tragedy of his marriage to Diana; his eventual reunion with his true love, Camilla; and his relationships with William, Kate, Harry, and his grandchildren. Ranging from his glamorous palaces to his country homes, from his globe-trotting travels to his local initiatives, Smith shows how Prince Charles possesses a fiercely independent spirit and yet has spent more than six decades waiting for his destined role, living a life dictated by protocols he often struggles to obey. With keen insight and the discovery of unexpected new details, Smith lays bare the contradictions of a man who is more complicated, tragic, and compelling than we knew, until now. Praise for Prince Charles
" Smith] understands the British upper classes and aristocracy (including the royals) very well indeed. . . . She] makes many telling, shrewd points in pursuit of realigning the popular image of Prince Charles."--William Boyd, The New York Times Book Review " A] masterly account."--The Wall Street Journal "Thoroughly researched and insightful . . . In this profile, it is clear Smith] got inside the circular barriers that protect the man and his position. The Charles that emerges is, as the subtitle suggests, both a paradox and a creature of his passions."--The Washington Times " A] compellingly juicy bio . . . Windsor-philes will be mesmerized."--People "Prince Charles paints an affectingly human portrait. . . . Smith writes about Charles's life] with a skill and sympathy she perfected in her 2012 biography of Charles's mother."--The Christian Science Monitor
"Comprehensive and admirably fair . . . Until his accession to the throne, Smith's portrait will stand as the definitive study."--Booklist (starred review)
" A] fascinating book that is not just about a man who would be king, but also about the duties that come with privilege."--Walter Isaacson "Sally Bedell Smith has given us a complete and compelling portrait of the man in the shadow of the throne. It's all here, from the back stairs of the palaces to the front pages of the tabs."--Tom Brokaw
Were you on the edge of your seat for the Netflix series “The Crown”? Do you still have the Charles and Diana coffee mug you badgered a London friend to send you 36 years ago?
If so, you’ll have a jolly good time reading Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, billed as the first major biography of the Prince of Wales in over 20 years. If not, you’ll still enjoy it as a psychological case study of a man who’s spent almost his entire life waiting for a role that might never be his. (For one thing, Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II, remains active in her 90s.)
Charles, 68, has lived a life in the spotlight, with some of his most intimate secrets exposed thanks to those pesky intercepted phone conversations. So author Sally Bedell Smith doesn’t claim to expose any great secrets, concentrating instead on writing a highly readable account of Charles’ life, with emphasis on what makes him tick. In this she succeeds admirably.
As for the passions mentioned in the title, rest assured that Charles’ disastrous marriage to Lady Diana Spencer is recounted along with his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he married eight years after Diana’s death. But—you must eat your broccoli, you know—Smith devotes equal weight to Charles’ more prosaic passions, such as alternative medicine and environmental sustainability.
And the paradoxes? That’s where the psychology comes in, and Smith makes it clear that Charles could provide full employment for a team of psychoanalysts. And that’s with many more chapters of his life still to be written, kingship or not.