Wednesday, April 12, 2017

PRINCE CHARLES by Sally Bedell Smith Audio Edition

With a number of best-selling biographies to her credit (Elizabeth the Queen, John and Jacqueline Kennedy, etc.) Sally Bedell Smith now gives us the first indepth biography of Prince Charles in 20 years.  Citing exclusive access to interviews with close friends and advisors of Prince Charles this bio is presented as a “multifaceted portrait of Charles and his world - a man more complicated, tragic and compelling than we knew until now.”  Perhaps so.  For this listener Smith was very generous to Camilla while she takes Diana to task.  Be that as it may “Prince Charles” is fascinating listening from start to finish.   

    It is remembered that Charles was but three-years-old when his mother became Queen   As if that weren’t enough to keep her busy she also is said to have a “hands-off” approach to motherhood.  So the picture of Charles as sensitive, lonely and love-starved seems to have early beginnings.  At the age of 8 he was sent to prep school where he was evidently bullied and the object of fun due to his corpulence and prominent ears.  It would seem that a local psychiatrist could offer many explanations for traits he carried into adulthood.

    As a young man he dated many women - none who were considered suitable future queen material.  He struggled to live up to his father’s expectations and sought approval and companionship from the Queen Mother and his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten.  At the same time he was apparently seeking to define himself through
various interests such as organic farming and other environmental issues.  Still Charles remained one of the world’s most eligible young bachelors.  The story is told that when he visited the United States during the Nixon era that the then president was so keen to
match him with his daughter Tricia that he made sure they were always seated next to each other.  Charles returned to England and when he was asked about Tricia he said he found her “plastic and dull.”

    Charles was in love with Camilla Parker Bowles and was devastated when she married another.  Nonetheless, the two remained friends.  It is said that Charles panicked when his 30th birthday approached and he was still unmarried so he quickly proposed to the 20-year-old Diana Spencer.  The world well knows what became of that union.

    Today Charles has been heir to the British throne for 65 years - a lifetime spent waiting for his one job.  It is said there is a sign in one of his rooms reading “Be patient and endure.”  To many he is dull, stoic and greatly overshadowed at one time by the beauteous Diana and now by sons William and Harry and adorable grandchildren.  If those who feel that way listen to Sally Bedell Smith’s story of his life they may well change their minds.

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