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New biography looks at issues between Prince Philip and Prince Charles

In Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, New York Times bestselling author Sally Bedell Smith digs deep into the relationship between Prince Charles and his father, the Duke of Edinburgh and alleges that the heir to the throne was ‘threatened’ into marrying young Diana Spencer.

In the upcoming biography, Bedell Smith investigates the role that Prince Philip played in getting his son to the altar and cites a letter from the elder royal in which he urged Charles to make a decision about marriage in a way that Charles felt was ‘coercive and accusatory’. According to Prince Philip’s cousin, Pamela Hicks, Prince Charles felt his father’s letter – received after he and Diana were reported to have spent a night travelling together on a train while dating in 1980 – was forcing him to get engaged. No mention is made of Her Majesty The Queen’s feelings or involvement in the situation.

The union was, unfortunately, a notoriously unhappy one and Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, divorced in 1996 after 15 years of marriage.

The differences between Philip and Charles are well documented, and this new account is only the latest in a string of biographies intent on exploring the difficulties of the relationship between the two men.

Last year, royal biographer Gyles Brandreth was given unprecedented access to the Duke of Edinburgh ahead of his 95th birthday and, as part of an interview, revealed that Prince Philip had once called Charles ‘a romantic’ and said that he, himself, was ‘a pragmatist. That means we do see things differently.’

Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life is scheduled for release on 4 April 2017 and is being heralded as ‘the first major biography of Prince Charles in more than two decades, with new insights into his family and his two marriages.’

  • Lynn Taylor

    Well, here we go again, another bloody book telling ones story – how can we believe it as Diana is not here to defend herself….

    • micmac

      Good point. But Diana did defend herself, as it happens. Unlike Charles and Philip who usually end up as target practice. Does Andrew Morton’s bookk Diana the true story ring any bells?

  • Howard T

    Do we seriously think an American can tell us anything we need to know about the subject?

    • micmac

      Odd that, isn’t it? The Americans who don’t live in UK and who don’t even have government links to UK, unlike Canada or Australia, are bound to know everything about the Royal family. The annoying part of such publications is their ‘over-the-top’ portrayal of what constitutes so-called “romance”, their exaggerations about every rumoured “love life” of their subjects, and their failure to recognise the professionalism of a family who have been brought up to regard public airing of emotions as bad form.

      • Howard T

        I think they expect our royals to be as gauche as their own public figures. Lacking a sense of history, culture etc I suppose will do that. Look who they just elected!

  • StephChaz

    In fact, it was not Diana on the train with him – as was stated angrily by her father, it came out later that this was his married girlfriend and now present wife, Camilla..

    • micmac

      The fact is that a journalist was able to see whoever it was, and said it was Diana, who was a blonde woman. Yes her mother did deny it was Diana, but how much time did Diana spend with any of her family when she had just caught the eye of her sister’s old boyfriend? And it wasn’t only Lord Mountbatten who dished out the “sow your wild oats” advice in those days to young grand nephews, though I suspect that Charles as a Lothario might have been somewhat exaggerated with all that press attention trained on any of those aristocratic girls he appeared to be associated with. It was commonplace then for men to try to see what they could get away with, when attracted to their new girlfriend, and almost a game, socially, to enjoy a bit of petting whilst staying relatively “untouched”. When a courting couple were left alone, that is. The sad part of it really was that the press never knew when it might be a good idea to sportingly mind their own collective business and to let that bit of juicy gossip slide.

      Yes, Camilla, also a past girlfriend, was blonde. but if it really was Camilla at that time, when Prince Charles had barely met Diana, why did Andrew Parker-Bowles not divorce Camilla then, instead of waiting until 1992 and the so-called Camillatapes?

      • Mimi

        Andrew Parker Bowles had countless affairs while married to Camilla, from the beginning. Charles and Camilla had a full relationship at the end of the seventies, and he didn´t care. It was Camilla on the train, this is widely known. Also I have to correct you…Camilla and Andrew divorced in 1995.

        • micmac

          There has to be a legal separation before a divorce, so the procedures only finally finished in 1995, with Andrew promptly married Rosemary Pitman. I’d imagine the sensationalism from the 1992 Camillagate tapes would have made any remaining pretence at a marriage downright untenable. As it did for Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Those tapes, originally recorded in 1989, were the smoking gun, you see. As it should have been if Camilla had been on the train, not Diana. And if Camilla – “as is widely known” – had really been on the train with Prince Charles, why did the journalist initially claim it was Diana, when he commented about it? Nothing sensational about an old squeeze who has been part of the entourage for yonks, you know. Especially as nobody in those days really cared about what the wife of a philanderer might get up to. The press were only wanting to find out if the latest of “Charlie’s angels” might actually be Royal marriage material.

      • Lynn Taylor

        Andrew Parker-Bowles was in HM Forces, these men cannot divorce or they are chucked out, disgraced and loose everything, that is why most of them turn a blind eye, he was humiliated time after time with the press reports and snide remarks, but there was nothing he could do…..He had to wait until he was demobbed, so to speak, then he divorced her……Saying that, he had lots of extra marital affairs himself…….He always knew deep down that it was Charles she loved……..

  • UF

    More gibberish. Charles was 32. It was likely HM who was pressuring her heir to think about settling down. It’s unlikely his father much cared whom he chose. Charles didn’t want to abandon the bachelor life. Lord Mountbatten told him not to fear. He could have Diana and swing as well. The Duke liked the Princess and she him

    • micmac

      Sorry, Lord Mountbatten was killed by a terrorist bomb when he went fishing in 1979. Prince Charles didn’t meet or even notice Princess Diana until the following year, and so Lord Mountbatten could never have met her. Before that, she was only a kid sister of an ex-girlfriend.

      • UF

        Lord Mountbatten advised the Prince concerning getting married but not to whom specifically. Princess Diana, whom Charles knew well, wrote the prince an extremely moving letter concerning Mountbatten’s funeral and the prince’s participation in it. That first got his attention.

        • Lynn Taylor

          She was very crafty and clever at manipulating, winning people over, Charles had just lost his favourite relative and was vulnerable – she wanted to marry a prince and he was as high as she could get…….She demanded her own way all the time and meant getting it………She twisted the public around her little finger with her clever, celebrity, acting ways, won them over with her style, charm and good looks, people loved it………She went too far with her books and self pity, using her sons as weapons and forever humiliating the Royal Family which is not allowed – It cost her, her life……

          • UF

            Plenty of blame to go around. In the end the marriage of the 32 y/o heir to the throne to a 19 year old daycare teacher’s aid was likely a bad idea all around. Their backgrounds and personalities were totally different and I personally don’t think they were ever really in love, especially HRH

          • Lynn

            We all know the reason he married, he never wanted to marry Diana, he was forced into it…. As I already said, she was young, anglo saxon looking and from a good noble family, it was an honour for her family to be accepted into the royal family, gave them a step up, she was groomed to marry as high as she could, he was the ultimate prize …….. she was supposed to produce heirs then blend into the background as a merry wife of Windsor whilst he carried on sewing his wild oats, as the royal men have always done…..She didn’t, she caused ripples, didn’t toe the line and had to go…….She was still causing trouble and humiliating the family, her own as well after the divorce…….Funny how she then died unexpectedly…….Happened to the other Prince William in 1972, the heir to the Dukedom of Gloucester, he was involved with a foreign divorced woman who he was determined to marry……. He was an expert pilot who’s plane crashed mysteriously….Speaks volumes….

    • Lynn Taylor

      He was Royal and they do as they like, always have done through the ages……They marry to produce heirs, love doesn’t come into it….The girls they marry are from Noble families who are groomed to marry as high as they can, it is an honour for them to be chosen for such a lifestyle, they are supposed to do their duty and blend into the background as Merry Wives of Windsor, shut up and put up…….Diana wasn’t prepared to do this, she was causing ripples, rocking the boat, giving away secrets and squashing the myth and she had to be gotten rid of………..Prince Philip and Charles would not be interested in what people think of them, they have it all and think that they are invincible…………If people refused to read this rubbish, they would not be written……

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