Prince Charles

Prince Charles

The Passions and Paradoxes of An Improbable Life

Book - 2017
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * The life and loves of Prince Charles are illuminated in a major new biography from the New York Times bestselling author of Elizabeth the Queen --perfect for fans of The Crown .

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
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781400067909
Characteristics: xxii, 596 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm


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From Library Staff

Prince Charles is one of the most recognizable figures of the 21st century, mainly because he was married to the late Diana, Princess of Wales. He holds the unenviable record for being the longest-running heir apparent in British history. Sally Bedell Smith has written a well-researched and balan... Read More »

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Jun 18, 2018

Living a life overshadowed by his mum the Queen and various other relations, frequently maligned and perhaps misunderstood, Prince Charles gets his turn in the spotlight. This biography provides insight into what it must have been like for a sensitive, shy boy to grow up with largely disengaged parents and a father whose misguided philosophy was that the harsher the schooling, the tougher Charles would become. It helps to build sympathy for a man who would receive so much criticism in later years, for clinging to the one "unsuitable" woman who made him happy, and breaking the heart of another, hastily chosen to fulfill the antiquated royal requirements of marriage forced upon him by his parents. Overall a generally even-handed presentation of the facts of Charles' life, although I felt that Princess Diana was treated rather harshly throughout the book. An interesting read.

Jan 05, 2018

I was never particularly a fan of Mr. Prince of Wales, especially during the Diana era, and I'm still not, frankly.
But watching the Netflix series "The Crown" has altered my perception of Charles a bit; privileged though he is, he didn't exactly win the Best Parents sweepstakes. (If Matt Smith's portrayal of Prince Phillip has any accuracy at all, the Duke of Edinburgh has been revealed as a philandering husband and an unfeeling bastard of a father.)

Aug 23, 2017

Very interesting reading, with a good distribution of childhood, the "Diana years," and more recent material. I thought the author did a fine job of balancing the man's good and the weak characteristics. I have a new sympathy for Charles, while still raising my eyebrows over much of what he stands for.

Jun 27, 2017

As the newest biography on Prince Charles, it was just what I needed to catch up on his life for the last years. Needless to say, I only read the last half of the book. :)

ArapahoeKati Jun 13, 2017

Here's the thing: I'm a bit of an Anglophile so this was right up my alley. But if felt like the author lost her steam about 2/3 in and was just reciting facts and timelines, which made it a dry read. Also, not very much on his childhood.

Jun 08, 2017

An excellent and very up-to-date review of Charles' life - which has definitely been an interesting one! What I really enjoy with this author is that she presents the facts in a very readable and easily-followed manner, while not taking sides herself. She just simply tells it like it is and lets the reader make their own judgments.

May 04, 2017

If you know nothing about Charles, this is a good book to read. This was not an authorized biography but the author did have access to several good sources. The book tries to make sense of his marriage to Diana while explaining the attraction between him and Camilla. The author clearly shows how avant-gardiste Charles was and that he should be a good King. We also discover that he was a good father to Harry and a William. Interesting.

Apr 25, 2017

For me, an amateur British Royal Family aficionado for over 30 years, the first 100 pages of this very long book was interesting, but slogged down at about 150 pages. I'm not critical of Sally Bedell Smith - she's an amazing researcher and writer, but the extremely detailed story of Prince Charles didn't hold my attention. I guess I'm not the big fan of the Royals that I thought I was after all.

Jan 21, 2017

Although normally not a fan of any royal family [none should exist today, I believe], I confess to finding this specific royal interesting: anyone who has gone through military training in all branches of the armed forces is a cut above [having served in two military branches in America, I have an idea of what I'm talking about]. Might be an interesting read . . . .


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