A close associate of his gave an interview in which the book was described as quotes ‘fiction from being to end’. I suffered trial by tabloid for a couple of weeks, lots of insults in the press, in the columns – this man should be put in the tower and so on.
Among other things they picked out a detail that Charles had been offered the Governorship of Hong Kong in its dying days by Thatcher in return for shutting up about the inner cities. He quite rightly in my view led the paper on this story.
As somebody who’s been writing about this subject for getting on twenty years now, it’s astonishing how the climate has changed in the last five years.
But, of course, she didn’t mean that she was going to retire from public life and only when the Queen removed her HRH some years later did she actually drop a hundred charities and just kept five.
Charles was very intent to use his years as Prince of Wales to make his mark while he still had freedom of maneuver that he wouldn’t have as King. The first subject he really went for was architecture. It made an impact.
He did once say the time to worry is when they stop writing about you but again I think that was pretty token of the coverage was very respectful, he rather resented the intrusions on his private life, but that was about it.
I decided he’d changed so much that a whole new book was required and that book actually I can say so was the first to say that the marriage was in trouble and the Prince didn’t like at all and my book was being serialized in the Sunday Times over five weeks.
I don’t accept at all the quite popular argument that the press is responsible for the monarchy’s recent troubles. The monarchy’s responsible for the monarchy’s recent troubles. To blame the press is the old thing of blaming the messenger for the message.
I first got to know Charles in the late seventies when I wrote an article and then a book about him and I think at the time he came across as quite appealing, it was probably the height of his popularity.
I mean Buckingham Palace has never hired a professional public relations outfit let alone a Madison Avenue type and they would throw up their hands in horror at the very idea.
I personally felt that his ad hominen attacks on British architects were not the sort of thing a Prince of Wales should be doing because, apart from anything else, they put various people out of business.
I remember a moment when the Prince went back to his old school, Grammar School in Melbourne, and slightly to his horror his old music teacher produced a cello.
I think her friends were worried that the bulimia might come back, about some psychological slide, and she was given breathing space to some extent by the media as much as she ever has been.
I think the relation between the monarchy and the press is very much a two-way street.
I went on a long trip through South America with Prince Charles where I was the only journalist there – a couple of photographers but no other writers.
I’ve always said, since I got to know him and wrote about him, that he’s the generation he least appeals to is his own and I think in many ways he was born middle-aged and that’s become apparent in recent years.
If you have an anecdote from one source, you file it away. If you hear it again, it may be true. Then the more times you hear it the less likely it is to be true.
It was delightful but, of course, it was pretty insulting to my professional reputation.
It’s a problem for him because he’s got – like Edward VII had – nearly all his lifetime to wait until he becomes Monarch. What is he going to do with it? So he wants to do something positive but he always courts those dangers.
Not merely can people like me write things that would never have been printed before but I think an enormously dramatic change has taken place in public opinion, possibly for the wrong reasons.
That was par for the course but I also found that commissions were being canceled and in fact I considered this directly libelous – I write biographies for a living as well as being a journalist – for a non fiction book to be called fiction from beginning to end.
Thatcher came under pressure from right wing backbenchers to shut up the Prince of Wales and there was a deal done between them where he did actually shut up in the end.
The architect, Peter Arens who is the monstrous carbuncle architect, not merely did his design which had won a public competition never get built but his practice suffered financially for some years.
The Princess’s so-called ‘time and space speech’ at the end of ’93 about a year after the formal separation, looking back on it it’s called her retirement from public life but we’ve seen in fact it’s nothing of the kind.
They tend to be civil servants, often diplomats drawn from the Foreign Office, who may be very pleasant, intelligent people, but once they get inside the Palace they’re riveted to the status quo and they lose track of public opinion in the real world.
We could have a political movement going if it had been properly organized but the Monarchy’s done itself enormous damage possibly beyond the point of long-term recovery.
Well I’m a very similar age to Prince Charles. I’m a year older than him. I was at university at the same time as him. I think in the sixties, like all the Royals, he really had very little impact on my life at all and he seemed, if anything a lot older in his attitudes.
Well the wedding in the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury was a fairy tale and there was a huge public impress, investment of goodwill, affection and indeed money in this Institution. It was a huge success at the time.
What it means is that some of Charles’ press secretaries have been better than others as some of the Queen’s press secretaries have been better than others.
What it was at the time was literally a plea for, to get the pressure off for a while, to give her space to breathe. She was very unhappy. She was feeling pretty claustrophobic.
What was funny if you were there is that we were all immensely sophisticated people who knew exactly what she was going to say and we’re chatting away, nice to see you.
When the magistrate says ‘That’s not a good enough reason my man.’ He said ‘Excuse me, could I ask you? Have you taken an oath of allegiance to the Monarch?’
When the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were growing up, that was at it’s height and the War cemented that with photographs of the Royal Family having breakfast together and so on, by pinning their reputation so firmly on that particular issue.
While the 1980 book was being serialized in the Sunday Times, Charles attacked it through the Observer.
You do now have one in three people, as shown by the famous Carlton Monarchy debate poll, saying they want to get rid of the Monarchy. That was unthinkable even three, four years ago.
Anger and hatred lead to fear; compassion and concern for others allow us to develop self-confidence, which breeds trust and friendship.Dalai Lama