Prince Charles The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life
by Sally Bedell Smith
Random House Publishing Group - Random House
Biographies & Memoirs
Pub Date 04 Apr 2017
I am a fan of royalty but from the 16th century and older. The modern royalty has not crossed my radar except for Masterpiece theater. When I saw a new biography on Prince Charles, I decided to pick it up from Netgalley. The likelihood of Prince Charles being crowned King grows with each year. It seemed like a good idea to learn about the man who literally would be king.
The childhood of Charles was a textbook case in how not to raise a healthy child. It really is sad. He was forced into a mold. His father tried to force the young prince to fit to his own interests, forced him to attend a school that the prince’s own grandmother stated would not be good for him. All of this without any of the usual signs of affection, either emotional or physical. Rarely a “good job” or a hug. The prince’s mother, the Queen, seems to be strangling part of the scenery instead of an active participant.
Charles seems to come into his own as he hit college. What is fascinating about this biography is not only Charles's evolution into his own man but the multiple disasters that occurred when his parents’ tried to manage him. Best example of this mismanaging is his marriage to Diana Spencer. Although Charles had found a woman who shared his interests and passions, she did not meet the requirements for inclusion in the royal family. After years of relationships that did not remotely meet those standards, he quickly selected and proposed to Diana Spencer.
This is where the book lost me. It was very critical, seriously critical, of Diana. She is painted by the author as being manipulative, having serious control issues, and being totally uninterested in Charles’s passions. She is portrayed as a good mother. She is also made use of the media to bolster her position as the “wronged” woman. Charles was involved in his sons’ lives. He did spend time with them and did not repeat the mistakes of his own father. But the media never photographed him with his sons. The media discussed Diana’s clothing, not Charles's speeches in favor of environmental causes.
Despite the author’s bias towards Charles, I would still recommend Prince Charles
The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life. It is a wonderful look at a very complex man who will someday be King of England. It is an opportunity to get to know a man who will certainly shape events when he takes his place on the world stage.