Since the day Charles Philip Arthur George was born, he has been groomed to be King. After more than seventy years of waiting, he finally ascends the throne.
The King examines the private life of this historically important and controversial figure, set against the grand, thousand-year sweep of the British monarchy. This richly detailed biography covers it all, from his military training to his marriage to Lady Diana, through their separation and her tragic death to his marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles. In the process, it provides a balanced but fully honest look into the life of the new monarch. This book will tell you what the King—a man who has remained something of an enigma, shrouded in speculation and intrigue—is really like.
I’ve been listening to a lot of royal biographies since this summer’s Platinum Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II but haven’t reviewed them, mainly because the bulk of them are just a rehash of old information portrayed in a new way. The King: The Life of Charles III (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) is the first biography issued of the new king since ascending to the throne upon the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth.
Is there anything new? Maybe, if you believe that Charles travels the world with his childhood teddy bear, lovingly patched and repaired over the years by the staff. Listen, I’ve been following the royal family since 1977, when I was four years old, and sometimes I have to say, who cares? I mean, if the story is true, so what? I have a quilt my grandmother made me when I went away to college in 1991 and still use it to this day. So no scandalous revelations in this book. As we all know, the scandalous stuff has come out in spades decades ago.
This is a comprehensive book of Charles III that is largely sympathetic to the king. There are a few chestnuts of information that I don’t believe I’ve seen in print anywhere, and I’m not going to spoil it for you beyond the teddy bear revelation if you’re interested. Diana does not come off well, and Camilla is seen more sympathetically than in some of the other books I’ve read or listened to in recent memory. I’m still on the fence about Camilla. I adored Diana growing up, and I’m sympathetic to the mental health challenges she had, but I’m also sympathetic to Camilla, who was deemed to have a past and therefore unmarriageable to the future king. As a Catholic, I’m still disappointed in the adultery, but after this amount of time, I also realize there’s only one whose judgment they need to worry about when they meet their maker and it certainly isn’t me. And from what I’ve seen, Queen Consort Camilla has worked her ass off since 2005 to be accepted by the British people and is doing a bang-up job. How long does one have to pay for past mistakes? Exactly. Those who still call her the rottweiler are unkind and unforgiving, and I for one, have a forgiving heart.
Charles had the rough luck of having a mother who became queen when he was a mere preschooler, and a father who was unsympathetic to a much more sensitive boy than he was. Over the years, the king’s description of his childhood has tempered with age, and I believe once those revelations were made, relationships with his parents got better. There was a time in my life where I was frustrated by how I was raised and held resentment against my mother for her failings after my father died, but with maturity I realized she was doing the best she could in difficult circumstances and from that point on, I had a wonderful relationship with my mother because I was able to let go of the childhood baggage. I believe the same is true of Charles III.
I’m passionate about several of the king’s pet projects, like the environment and the loathing of urban architecture. And my opinion of him has changed from those days when he was breaking Diana’s heart, to realize that it’s got to be tough waiting a lifetime for the top job, knowing that only the death of his mother would allow him to be king.
When I lost my mother earlier this year, I really didn’t have time to mourn, and I imagine the same is true for King Charles III. Life returns to normal after the funeral, and life must go on. I wonder what sort of King Charles will turn out to be.
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