Prince Charles by Sally Bedell Smith
The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life

72%

10 Critic Reviews

Smith makes many telling, shrewd points in pursuit of realigning the popular image of Prince Charles, but the observation that stuck with me, one that brings us full circle, is a perfect illustration of her acumen.
-NY Times

Synopsis

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
 

About Sally Bedell Smith

See more books from this Author
Sally Bedell Smith is the author of bestselling biographies of William S. Paley; Pamela Harriman; Diana, Princess of Wales; John and Jacqueline Kennedy; and Bill and Hillary Clinton. A contributing editor at Vanity Fair since 1996, she previously worked at Time and The New York Times, where she was a cultural news reporter. She is the mother of three children and lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Stephen G. Smith.
 
Published April 4, 2017 by Random House. 624 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Apr 23 2017
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Prince Charles
All: 10 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Good
on Feb 13 2017

Throughout, the author traces the roots of Charles’ many fascinating and beneficial "obsessions"; he was a prescient prince who scorned the playboy label and tried valiantly to do something good with his wealth and connections. A thorough, timely biography of the man likely to become king in the next decade or so.

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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Roxanne Roberts on Apr 10 2017

Her 596-page book, “Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life,” is not an authorized biography, but the palace assisted with access to public appearances, interviews and research.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by William Boyd on May 10 2017

Smith makes many telling, shrewd points in pursuit of realigning the popular image of Prince Charles, but the observation that stuck with me, one that brings us full circle, is a perfect illustration of her acumen.

Read Full Review of Prince Charles: The Passions ... | See more reviews from NY Times

Christian Science Monitor

Above average
Reviewed by Steve Donoghue on Apr 05 2017

...Smith's book gives readers a prince who's earned both his friends and enemies the old-fashioned way, a hard-working and opinionated man of principle. When it comes to gaining a new king, regardless of his age at accession, a kingdom could do much, much worse.

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The New Yorker

Below average
Reviewed by ZOE HELLER on Apr 10 2017

Early on, however, it becomes apparent that Smith’s public-relations instincts are at war with a fundamental dislike of her subject.

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Herald Scotland

Good
Reviewed by Brian Morton on Apr 20 2017

The unspoken conclusion of this decent, full-hearted book is that the long wait for the crown, far from damaging his credibility or sapping his energies, has been a tribal test, which he has now resoundingly passed.

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Herald Scotland

Good
Reviewed by Brian Morton on Apr 20 2017

The unspoken conclusion of this decent, full-hearted book is that the long wait for the crown, far from damaging his credibility...has been a tribal test, which he has now resoundingly passed.

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https://bookpage.com

Above average
Reviewed by Keith Herrell on Apr 04 2017

Do you still have the Charles and Diana coffee mug...If so, you’ll have a jolly good time reading Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, billed as the first major biography of the Prince of Wales in over 20 years. If not, you’ll still enjoy it as a psychological case study...

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https://www.booklistonline.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Brad Hooper on Feb 15 2017

...Smith’s copious research—including extensive interviews with individuals close to 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...Smith’s portrait will stand as the definitive study.

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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Brenda Cronin on Apr 03 2017

In “Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life,” Mrs. Smith decodes a very private public figure whose decades of philanthropy have received less tabloid coverage than his romances and occasional gaffes.

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Reader Rating for Prince Charles
75%

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