Mary Warnock

  • Charles, Prince of Wales by Anthony Holden
    Weidenfeld, 336 pp, £6.95, October 1980, ISBN 0 297 77662 2

In the ordinary way, it would count as a considerable triumph to spin out the biography of a man only 30 years old, and described as a late developer, to 21 chapters, 270 pages, excluding appendices. But of course the Prince of Wales is not ordinary; and much of Mr Holden’s book is not about the Prince but about the British Monarchy, its recent history and putative future. Prince Charles is certainly at the centre of the book; but the difficulties in the way of getting to know him (or any member of the Royal Family) are clearly described. All conversations must be guarded; most will be unspontaneous. Any potential friend will be viewed with suspicion. Is he safe? Will he talk to the press? It might seem that the task of a biographer, even one who travelled about with the Prince for two years, would be hopeless. How could one ever get close enough to the subject?

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