Prince William: Born to be King: An Intimate Portrait by Penny Junor
|Prince William: Born to be King: An Intimate Portrait by Penny Junor|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A much more readable book than this republican sympathiser was expecting - and far more balanced than some other reviews had led me to expect. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: May 2012|
|Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd|
|External links: Author's website|
Prince William is one of the few people who genuinely needs no introduction. He's been in the public eye since his birth and the interest is certain to increase rather than diminish as time goes by. On the other hand he is only thirty. Is there really going to be enough to warrant a book and will it be anything more than an attempt to cash in on his marriage in 2011 and the current interest in all things royal engendered by the Queen's Diamond Jubilee? You can see that I was something of a reluctant reader - my sympathies are republican rather than royalist and in addition Penny Junor is known to be a supporter of Prince Charles in what can be described as the War of the Waleses. Was this really going to be a book which I would enjoy?
Surprisingly, it was. The battleground which his parents' marriage was to become had a profound effect on William and has gone a long way towards shaping the man that he is today. As I'm writing this review the papers are full of his reactions to the peeping-tom photographs of his wife in a French magazine and it's very easy to see why when you relate this back to what happened to his mother.
During (and even after) the War of the Waleses, Diana, Princess of Wales was either more adept at using the press to put her side of the story forward - or didn't feel constrained as did her husband. In consequence there's now a solid body of people who feel that Diana was not well treated by the royal family and suggesting otherwise - or even that there might have been faults on both sides - is akin to bringing up politics or religion at a dinner party. Certainly I've read reviews of this book which lead me to think I might be reading hagiography of Prince Charles rather than a biography of his son.
I didn't find it this way. Throughout the book I felt that she was open and realistic about Prince Charles' shortcomings and whilst it's very obvious where she places her sympathies I didn't find her approach unreasonable. What was pleasing - and it's not something which I've seen a great deal of elsewhere - was the influence which the Queen has had on William and the extent to which he relies on her advice and guidance.
Junor shines when she's dealing with William's childhood and the ramifications of his parents' marriage. She's thought-provoking and insightful. I was never a great fan of the late Princess of Wales but I certainly felt that I came away with a more balanced view of what might have gone on. She's rather more workman-like when it comes to William's life post Diana, giving an overview of his education, relationship with Kate Middleton and his marriage. There's a great deal of information about the charitable work undertaken by William and Harry and I certainly hadn't been aware of the extent of it. They both went up in my estimation.
There's always a danger with a biography of someone of relative youth that something major will happen just after the book has gone to press but this is still going to be a worthwhile read about William's childhood in years to come. I enjoyed it far more than I was expecting.
The book came to us courtesy of the Ilkley Literature Festival where Penny junor is appearing on 14 October 2012.
For more about Diana, Princess of Wales we can recommend The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Prince William: Born to be King: An Intimate Portrait by Penny Junor at Amazon.com.
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