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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of Elizabeth the Queen comes the first major biography of Prince Charles in more than 20 years - 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 300 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' 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.

With a preface read by the author.

©2017 Sally Bedell Smith (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Prince Charles is an 18th-century gentleman with a 21st-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)

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Diana dissed at every chance

this book is a good book but it was very irritating that at every chance that could possibly be squeezed in the writer disses the memory of Diana she insults belittles and is very very anti Diana and to further her disdain for Diana she elevates Camilla at every possible chance and squeezes in unnecessary comparisons between the two she makes light and glosses over the Charles Camilla relationship indescretions but slams the Diana and her indescretions. If the writer had not been so blatant with her disdain for Diana I would have enjoyed the book. I endured the book because I was interested in what Charles does . I am sure you can get the same story with an unbiased writer somewhere else.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The "Green" Prince

I love reading about the British Royal Family, and when it comes to today’s crop it’s been a while since I’ve read anything recent. When it comes to Charles, most of the books have all ended on a “but will they ever get married” note. Clearly, they did.

It was an interesting bio, despite the zillions of books and documentaries I’ve seen I still felt like I learned something new about Charles… like for example: to what extent he is passionate (obsessed?) by environmental issues. I always knew it was an interest of his, but I didn’t know just how Green he is! Good for him.

I’d recommend this book to anyone curious about his life, it was a very complete biography.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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An instant classic

Audible does it again. This same narrator also narrated the author's biography of Elizabeth the Queen in 2012 as well as Tina Brown's The Diana Chronicles in 2007. She does an equally excellent job on Sally Bedell Smith's superb biography of H.R.H. Prince Charles. I've waited nearly a year for this and it was more than worth it. Wonderful audio commentary.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Poor Little Rich Boy

I know this extensive biography isn't meant in any way to be humorous, but I think most Americans, even Anglophiles, will get a few chuckles from it.

Of course, you have to respect the unique and difficult position in which Prince Charles has lived his entire life. He has had the same public exposure, duties and restrictions of being a constitutional monarch without having attained the title, respect or experience of actually being one. If he does ever become King, it's unlikely he'll have the time to establish himself in his own right.

And, oh, he has had misfortunes! Distant parents, both physically and psychologically. Nearly impossible high expectations from them, from his country and its notoriously prying media. A really bad marriage. Damned if he didn't try to have some serious influence; damned if he tried to interfere in any way deemed political.

Still, this is one of the wealthiest men in the world, people! Life's trials just cannot be put on an equal footing for him as on the next guy. All that elevated family history, all that money, all those loyal subjects and servants, all that protection and separation from the "real world" of finances, mortgages, bills - surely that's some compensation for a fellow of reportedly average intelligence. Given the truly horrifying positions and circumstances into which one may be born in today's world, most of us are probably not inclined to expend a whole lot of sympathy on Poor Charles.

It seems to me that the biographer here has done an admirable job of presenting an objective and balanced view of her subject, a living world figure. History may see it differently, but Sally Bedell Smith expertly walks a fine line, avoiding the unsympathetic on one hand and the overly-adoring on the other. Rosalyn Landor gives a hearty and appropriately plummy British upper class narration.

I learned something, but it did give me a giggle now and then!

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Informative and educational

Informative and educational on an important future King of Great Britain. I came into the book, wanting to know what was Prince Charles life growing up, that led to his adult life with great tragedy and also great potential.

The author in the end seemed biased towards Charles, and anti Princess Diana. But on who Prince Charles is, was enlightening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Unbelievably Biased

I know so little about the future king of England that I was really looking forward to this book however the author's unbelievable bias where anything relating to Diana was concerned made me question everything else. She seemed to go out of her way to make Diana look "crazy", spoiled, mean, petulant, etc. even in circumstances so private that only the prince and Diana could know what actually happened. Every event was how poor Charles tried and tried and tried to understand her and help her but she always resisted.

Diana's death and funeral were told from a perspective that, having lived through it, I know were either incorrect or glossed over to make the Queen look kind and magnanimous. The entire world witnessed something different.....so many "on the street" interviews showed how disappointed and angry the people there were that the Queen said nothing for days until public opinion forced her to. Every article of the day and every book written since then has described the Queen's opinion that Diana was no longer a royal and a state funeral was no longer appropriate and it took Charles and Tony Blair to convince her that it would make her look petty if she didn't allow it.

Overall I was happy to learn things about Charles life and the things he was/is interested in. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to have already lived most of your life and still not being able to do the one thing you were destined for. I have no doubt that he will be a worthy king but if you can't trust such an important part of the book I don't really know how accurate everything else is.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Prince Charles

Excellent book. The next King of England. Sally Bedell Smith has written a thorough and absorbing biography. I highly recommend this historic text.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Insightful

I have read a number of biographies about Prince Charles. They all seem to portray him as a love-starved, lonely and emotionally vulnerable. Charles was the first Royal to graduate from Cambridge University and signed up for the Air Force to learn to fly jet planes but was forced into the Royal Navy by his father. Like his father he graduated from Dartmouth, the British Naval Academy. He had a hard time in the close quarters of the Navy ships as he primarily is an introvert.

Smith states that Charles is passionate about organic farming, and environmental issues for which he is way ahead of his time. He is also interested in traditional architecture. He is famous for his charity work and has special interest in education for disadvantaged youth. Smith states that Prince Charles loves the opera and is an accomplished watercolorist. She states he is personally a very frugal man. It was fun learning about all the inside information about Prince Charles and his family. The later part of the book has lots of information about Prince William and Harry as well as the Queen. Apparently, Prince William and the Queen are very close. While growing up he spent a lot of time with her as his parents fought.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. Smith interviewed many court figures and the members of the Royal Family. Smith had access to letters, diaries and other documents. It took about four years to gather all the information to write the book. Smith does reveal a sympathy toward Prince Charles but is frank about the Prince’s personal flaws. Mostly the biography is fairly balanced. The book is easy to read and provides a look at his work as a Royal and a glimpse into his personal life.

The book is almost nineteen hours long. Rosalyn Lander does a good job narrating the book. Lander is an English actress and a multi-award winning audiobook narrator.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Detailed, But Towed The Party Line

This book is typical of Sally Bedell Smith. It's well researched and written. However, as a long time reader of many biographies of the current British royal family, this book glossed over the Diana years and in my humble opinion, didn't accurately convey what happened during the Prince of Wales' marriage, in particular the resumption of the affair with Camilla. While no one who wasn't involved will ever know the whole truth, it still felt as though the author bought the narrative provided by the Wales camp. Also, while there were some new facts regarding the prince, the book didn't feel like a new, refreshing read.

One bright spot was the narrator, Rosalyn Landor. She was a pleasure to listen to as always.

For me, this was an average biography with great narration. From someone as talented as Sally Bedell Smith, I expected better.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Prince Charles, A Story About His Life and Loves

If you are a fan of royal family stories, you will like this book and you need to read it since eventually (unless he dies before the Queen) he will be King. This book is thorough and while in parts the author sounds like she is trying to make Charles more likeable, the facts are all there. The fact that he was born first in line means he must be trained in the ways of a ruler. As a young man, he might be accused of tilting at windmills and trying to get involved in issues that he has no knowledge but his heart is in the right place. The author obviously had the approval of the Prince and the Queen to be able to tell about feelings and emotions of Charles, Diana, and Camilla. It is a years long story of Charles and how he evolved, how he was distraught over Diana's obviously unhappiness, and how he handled it all by shutting down and maintaining his routines. He comes across in places as a stuffy, behind the times, eccentric but with a good heart. It couldn't be easy to be in the spotlight with a beautiful wife but not truly with her in spirit or philosophy. The love of his life he met when he was 21 and it wasn't until he was in late middle age that he was able to publicly let is be known. The whole book is told with honesty and with the ever present knowledge that one day he will be King and must not do anything to jeopardize his reputation. William and Harry are introduced as bright and well rounded young men, who did not suffer the same stilted growing up that Charles endured. I very much liked the book and was pleased when Charles and Camilla were recognized wholeheartedly by the Queen and have some happiness with each other. The next few years will be interesting. The Queen is 91 but she is still healthy and engaged and has no plans to step down. In fact she says she took this job for life.

Rosylan Landor does a good job as narrator.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful