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Charles: The Misunderstood Prince Hardcover – 6 Apr 2017
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Brilliant, startling. The royal biography everyone's talking about
What a story. To read this book is to feel... immense pity and sympathy for the man (The Times)
Prince Charles: The passions and paradoxes of an impossible life is the first major biography of Prince Charles in more than two decades, with new insights into his family and his two marriages, from the bestselling author of Elizabeth the Queen. (From the publisher's description)
Prince Charles is an eighteenth-century gentleman with a twenty-first-century mission. His love of tradition combines with an outlook that can be bracingly avant garde. Sally Bedell Smith captures his contradictions and his convictions in this fascinating book that is not just about a man who would be king, but also about the duties that come with privilege. (Walter Isaacson)
For all we know about Prince Charles, there is so much we didn't know until now. 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. Read all about it! (Tom Brokaw)
No one writes about life at the top with more panache than Sally Bedell Smith. Her Prince Charles is a delicious blend of glamour and grandeur, jealousy and rivalry, greatness and human foible. Smith writes with wisdom and sympathy and a sharp and knowing eye about the struggles and maturation of the man who would be King. (Evan Thomas)
This great biography is an indispensable guide for anyone eager to understand Prince Charles and the British monarchy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. What an achievement, what work went into it, and all of it presented with such ease. It is so fair, while suggesting so much. (Peggy Noonan)
From the Back Cover
I wondered if the contradictions of this driven, mercurial, and multifaceted man were in fact irreconcilable. In any event, they would have major consequences for Britain, for the lives of those around him, and for the future of the monarchy. His status was determined from birth. How he dealt with that fate in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is the story of a most improbable life.See all Product description
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Would also recommend her book on Queen Elizabeth 11 which is written in a similar manner.
Bedell Smith's bio is just one of many that have been written about Charles over the years, along with the lot on other royal figures, particularly Diana. In the past, these bios have been heavily slanted during the Windsor marriage - Team Charles or Team Diana - but this one is drawn very even handily. The only problem with this book is that if you're a Royal Watcher, you've probably already read parts of this book ten times already under other titles, written by other authors. So, if you're a new reader, I can recommend this book. If you're an old hand at the Royals, you can probably skip it.
This is not an authorized biography of Prince Charles, but it is a very even handed attempt to show what this man is like both when he is in the public spotlight and when he isn't. I have read other biographies of the British royal family written by Sally Bedell Smith and my reason for wanting to read this one was because I knew I would find a balanced approach to the subject at hand. I always make sure to read the Dedication, Bibliography, and Acknowledgments because I often find interesting nuggets of information revealed there. In this case, the revelation of how Ms. Smith was close enough to her subject matter to be believable. Also, even though there are literally pages of names of those who were willing to provide Ms. Smith with information about Prince Charles there were only thirty people who requested to remain anonymous. That percentage was quite impressive to me. I also discovered how access to the royal family came about and how many people within the royal circle can be considered friends of this author. It explains why many of the incidents involving Prince Charles over the years were treated as they were.
In this biography Ms. Smith has dealt with Prince Charles fairly, but impartially. When she was recounting things he had said or done which were unwise she has not held back from offering a critical view of his actions. However, and just as important to me, when Prince Charles has been wrongly perceived or maligned Ms. Smith has not hesitated to set the record straight to give readers a view of the whole man. Thankfully she has not tried to whitewash obvious errors in judgement or turn Prince Charles into an unappreciated saint. The balance of giving the opposite view when misleading information was more prominently reported has made Prince Charles into a more personable individual for me. It seems fairly obvious that Ms. Smith is to be considered more on the side of the Prince of Wales than his enemy, but attempts appear to have been made to present him as he is, as events happened , mistakes and all.
One of the aspects of this book which I found most interesting was watching as Prince Charles appears to come to terms with his role in waiting to become King Charles III. Everyone matures over the period of their life. It was most interesting to watch Prince Charles as he had to come to terms with his place in the line of English monarchs with the eyes of friend and foe alike firmly focused on him, evaluating his every move in light of his future possibility of sitting on the throne. This book has been most helpful to me in watching Prince Charles mature and change as he has had to deal with everything life has given him and come through it all with a grace and purpose which bodes well for the English monarchy.
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