Book Reviews

Prince Charles

The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life

Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life

“The marriage between Charles and Diana was unhappy virtually from the outset, so Smith establishes…with great judiciousness….[Smith] understands the British upper classes and aristocracy (including the royals) very well indeed…Smith makes many telling, shrewd points in pursuit of realigning the popular image of Prince Charles.”
William Boyd, The New York Times

“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

“Prince Charles is arguably one of the most recognizable people in the world…In this biography, historian and frequent biographer Sally Bedell Smith presents a multidimensional portrait of a complex, sensitive and often visionary man. Verdict: Intimate but not gossipy, this highly accessible and thoroughly researched volume would do well in all collections.”
Library Journal

“A sympathetic psychological study of the prince who has been working tirelessly all his life to be taken seriously.”
Kirkus Review

“Prince Charles or involved in his initiatives in the economic, social, and architectural fields—finds that his long days as a king-in-waiting have actually been full of projects that are important to him and which he feels contribute to the good of the country…Until his accession to the throne, Smith’s portrait will stand as the definitive study.”
Booklist

“Unlike some earlier sensation-seeking biographers…Ms. Bedell Smith…resists any temptation to take sides….Here is one of the paradoxes of Charles evident from Ms. Bedell Smith’s masterly account: encased in his own glass box of privilege, he is sometimes quicker than elected politicians to voice popular dissent.”
The Wall Street Journal

“This compellingly juicy bio paints the heir to Britain’s throne as ambivalent about the crown, prescient in his promotion of green energy, smitten with now-wife Camilla from the moment they met and resentful in his marriage to Diana, whose popularity far outstripped his own. Windsor-philes will be mesmerized.”
People

“Smith, who wrote biographies of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana, offers the inside scoop on the man who would be king. Di fans may bristle at how she’s portrayed, but those on Team Charles will adore the dish on his love, Camilla Parker Bowles”
AARP Magazine

“As Smith’s biography makes clear, Camilla’s impact on Charles has been considerable… While this is very much a biography about Charles–billed as the first major biography of the Prince in 20 years–the reader will find Camilla woven throughout much of the story. Smith is well suited to write this book… She knows the royal turf, so to speak.”
Chicago Tribune

“Through exhaustive research, [Prince Charles’s] complex—both progressive and reactionary, intelligent yet single-minded, insecure but ambitious-and surprisingly rebellious spirit is revealed. (Charles even once got into a fight with [Prime Minister Margaret] Thatcher: ‘”I run this country, not you, sir,” she said.’) It makes for a fascinating portrait of a man who, for a brief time, was the most popular member of the royal family and would make a very outspoken King, if he ever gets that chance.”
British Heritage Travel

“Smith has mastered the art of delivering insider-but not tawdry- details about the Royal Family. She depicts the Prince of Wales as a disciplined figure who has taken on environmental issues, particularly organic farming, as well as high-quality architecture and alternative medicine, as causes. Smith, who is sympathetic to the Prince, considers his disastrous relationship with Princess Diana and his romance with Camilla Parker Bowles, as well as the optimism of the next generation, led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.”
The National Book Review

“A psychological case study of a man who’s spent almost his entire life waiting for a role that might never be his… [Smith has written] a highly readable account of Charles’s life, with emphasis on what makes him tick. In this she succeeds admirably… And the paradoxes? That’s where the psychology comes in, and Smith makes it clear that Charles could provide full employment for a team of psychoanalysts. And that’s with many more chapters of his life still to be written, kingship or not.”
BookPage

“We thought we knew a great deal about Britain’s future king, but in this definitive biography, we learn how much we don’t know… The author of this exquisitely written, energetic – and unauthorized – biography has unfolded the life of the real Prince Charles. Smith has let us see Charles grow and mature on these pages through her research and interviews with hundreds of people who knew him well… He deserves more respect and dignity for all that he has accomplished.”
The Florida Times-Union