BORN TO BE KING by Catherine Mayer


Prince Charles on Planet Windsor
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A brief biography of Britain’s famous king-in-waiting, Prince Charles.

The Prince of Wales has been a mainstay of international media for nearly his entire life. Between his tumultuous marriage to Princess Diana, which tragically culminated in a 1997 fatal car crash, and the nasty rumors that Charles is anxiously awaiting his mother’s death to ascend the throne, there has been no shortage of ink spilled over the prince. Yet despite his presence as a public figure, Charles has maintained a remarkably guarded life. Though he makes hundreds of appearances each year, from hosting world leaders to visiting local businesses across Britain, as a person, he is difficult to define. Longtime Time journalist Mayer has profiled dignitaries of all stripes, and here she sets out to dispel the prejudices dogging not only Charles, but also the institution of monarchy. Bad press and mismanagement have long plagued the Windsors, and politicians have routinely questioned the political and financial legitimacy of the royal family. Yet Prince Charles remains the family’s most active and public representative—for better or worse. Bucking the conventional linear narrative of traditional biographies, Mayer focuses her study of Charles on aspects of his character. Chief among them is his dedication to philanthropy and cultural initiatives. Charles was notably one of the first proponents of sustainable agriculture, environmental activism, and conservation in Britain, famously mentioning that he liked to walk through his garden and talk to his plants. He even founded one of the country’s first organic brands and published a manifesto called Harmony. Mayer also dives into the juicy bits such as family history and his marriage to Diana. Ultimately, she captures the contradiction between Charles’ traditional wisdom and progressive causes and illuminates a man perpetually caught in between the rule of royalty and his need to express himself as an individual.

Though far from comprehensive, Mayer’s intriguing snapshot of Prince Charles reveals the often overlooked intricacies of his personality.

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-62779-438-1
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2015


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