CHARLES & DIANA by Ralph G. Martin


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A breathless retelling of ""the greatest royal romance of our time."" The story of the Prince and Princess of Wales, unfortunately, falls flat because they are an essentially decent, unremarkable young couple whose meager history has already been told ad nauseum by the press, TV and prior books. They are hardly the juicy stuff of Martin's other autobiographies, which include Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill), John F. Kennedy and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. He's therefore forced to employ various silly literary devices to create drama and suspense. ""How did it really begin?"" he writes. ""The myth is it began in the middle of a ploughed field at Sandringham when she was 16 and he was 29. . . The true story--the real beginning, the real romantic spark of electricity between them, the real Cinderella story--didn't come until three years later in 1980."" How? How? the reader salivates. It turns out that Diana first put the gleam in Charles' eye when they were windsurfing off the royal yacht. (She'd been invited to a shipboard party by her friend Sarah Armstrong-Jones, daughter of Princess Margaret.) This is one of the ""never-before-publicized"" items Martin dredged up in the two years he spent researching the book. Another, ""probably the best-kept royal secret of the 20th century,"" is the revelation that, after their engagement was announced, ""Diana [Gasp!] was spending her nights with the Prince."" In actuality, she had been given a room in Buckingham Palace to protect her from constant harassment by the media. It happened to be on the same floor as the Prince's quarters. Lovers of royal minutiae will hardly be put off by the fatuous style. They will be provided with a satisfyingly detailed account of the protaganists' genealogies, childhood, young adulthood, romance, wedding and matrimonial life. They will meet various ladies Charles romanced in his bachelor days, among then Anna Wallace, who had walked out on him the night before Lady Diana sailed in. They will learn that Charles' father, Prince Philip, resented the influence Lord Mountbatten exerted on the young Prince and that the Queen Mother distrusted him because of his scandalous married life and his reputed bisexuality. They will move through the great houses where the Royals hang their crowns and tiaras: Balmoral (17,000) acres), Sandringham (274 rooms), Kensington Palace (containing about 20 apartments, most of which are occupied by assorted Royal relatives), and Highgrove, the nine-bedroom pied … terre where Charles and Diana set up housekeeping. It's all there--and serendipitously timed for publication just as the Royal couple visit our shores. Tamer by far than ""Dynasty"" or ""Dallas,"" but what backdrops! What a cast!

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1985
Publisher: Putnam