For diehards who want to know more about Prince Charles and the love of his life—who is definitely not Princess Di—British journalist Wilson redigests 20 years of royal gossip. British expository style makes this different from American rehashes, and there is a decidedly exotic quality to the subject matter. To read about Charles's affair with Camilla Parker Bowles is to read about a tribe at least as strange and anachronistic as the Yanomami of Brazil and the Amish of Pennsylvania. Wilson (ghostwriter of James Whitaker's Diana v. Charles, not reviewed) gives a tour of the customs of blue-blooded Britons, of a world in which a prince could conduct an affair with a woman whose public school was decorated with the stuffed body of a ``crucified'' bat, and who is married to someone formerly called the ``Silver Stick in Waiting'' to the Queen. The sex may be old, but the anthropology is riveting: the royal calendar, the London season, the rituals around mating and breeding, the aristocratic pastimes of polo and fox hunting, and the household courtiers and guards who still dress in the same costumes, so Camilla's father observes, they once wore to fight Napoleon. And where the Prince of Wales apparently spends his days and nights preparing to be King of England and thinking about Camilla Parker Bowles's knickers (a transcript of the famous Camillagate tape is included). When the world watched Diana Spencer walk down the aisle of St. Paul's—yes, even then—Charles and Camilla had just shared what they claimed would be their last tryst. Diana gets little sympathy: Though often on moral high ground, she is a neurotic ``bag of bones.'' Camilla, with her ``voluptuous curves,'' is devoted and discreet, a ``woman who cares deeply for her man''—the Tammy Wynette of the Beaufort hunt club. Less interesting are arguments about whether the monarchy will stand. More than anyone cares to know about the prince's sex life. But as a scandalizing glimpse into a closed society, it's rather fascinating.
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