that, was at one time the standard voicemail greeting of the Queen of England. It is recorded by Prince Harry, followed by snorts of mirth and guffawing in the background of Prince William. From the boozing night out at Bijou and the fall into the gutter while berating the paparazzi, to wearing Nazi uniform to a costume party etc. were the kind of antics that Prince Harry would put himself in trouble time and again.
I’d never followed Princess Diana’s life back in the 80’s but I, like everyone else, reads about their scandals or major happenings on the news headline. I had never read any of Princess Diana’s memoir or watched any of her revealing public interviews. Since Princess Diana died, all was calm at the Monarchy front, except the news of the marriage of Princes Charles and Duchess of Cornwall.
The recent royal wedding between Prince William and Katherine Middleton (or Duchess of Cambridge now, isn’t it fascinating how they pick the titles and confer to married couples in the royal family?) was surprisingly beautiful and fairy-tale like, by coincidence I came across this book at the “What’s new” bookshelf at the library at the royal wedding weekend and I borrowed it.
Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales was born on Monday 21 June 1982 in the private Lindo Wing of St Mary’s hospital which I walked past every day to go to work. 2 years and 3 months later, Prince Henry Charles Albert David – better known as Harry was born on the 15 September 1984 on the same wing, in the same hospital.
The book then follows Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s tumultuous marriage and the impact that it has on their eldest son. All serves as a good prelude to what’s coming and how the events have shaped the young princes’ lives. Being the oldest, Prince William understood a lot more about the break-up of his parents’ marriage. What is surprising for me is to know that Diana secretly collaborated on the explosive biography to pour all the skeleton from the royal family’s closet. I can’t help but to feel a tinge of sadness for the boys who had suffered through their parents’ divorce, public humiliation of constantly hearing scandals about their mother on the front page of gossip magazines and finally lost their mother to a car crash. Tragic….
Growing up, both the princes enjoy privileges, opportunities and achievements that seems to elude plebeian like us.
Both brothers are great horsemen, polo players, swimmer, surfers, shooter and hunter, rugby and football captain, and because of their mother, William is also a yoga practitioner. Flattery abundance on the multi-talent of the young princes and endless exotic holidays the princes seems to take in their short lifetime can be found within the pages. The country’s top government advisors are called in to plan the princes’ gap years. As athletic prowess as they are, academically they are not. As William made a few switches in courses while at St. Andrew’s finding the history of modern art hard to take in and with the advice of his future wife, settled for geography. Harry in his drink-fuelled haze got a B for Art and a D for Geography in his A-level. Yet his father insisted ‘I am very proud of Harry. He has worked hard for this examination and I am very pleased with today’s result.’ (page 118). When the doors of internships for graduate hopefuls are closed on the country’s most qualified young people, Prince William spent 2 weeks working in Duke and Duchess of Devonshire’s 35,000 Peak District Estate, 3 weeks with HSBC and Bank of England and 2 weeks with RAF Valley Mountain Rescue team.
While the princes went gallavanting, what does the princess and princess to-be do? Waiting. After breaking up twice with William, “Katie do nothing” but waits until Prince William decides to come back. After many boozing night-outs with girls, as level headed as Chelsy Davy (Harry’s long time Zimbabwean born girlfriend) could be, she is still with Harry after all these years. I guess no one rejects a prince and the two brothers know it and they flaunt it.
Still, I wonder if any of the privileges of their lives will ever compensate for the loss of their mother at such a very young age?
I actually had fun listing out the names of could-be Princess of Cambridge and to see how they look like:
L to R: Carley Massy Birch, Arabella Musgrave and Anna Sloan.
On the other hand, the princes are not all spoilt and rotten. They are passionate about continuing the good work that their mother had done and left behind. They are down-to-earth and humble. They are serving the country at the front line as soldier and rescue worker. The brothers’ relationship are close knitted and they think the world of each other, never a word of unkind. Katherine Middleton from Buckleberry, Berkshire is just as sweet, level headed and down-to-earth. Overall I thought the recent royal wedding was a good match.
When you drag your eyes through the seemingly endless streams of words, that seems to blur in front of your eyes…. and you have to backtrack, you seem to be reading but your mind drifted off to a semi-slumber…. when you take one week to finish a 300 pages book, you carry the big tome of 2666 and you can’t bring yourself to read another sentence which leads to nowhere… you know you are in a reading slump. That’s me. A bad reading slump so bad that I feel no joy in reading.
and then this book came along… and wham! bam! Alakazam! something magical happened and the words just flew by and I finished the book within a day.
Despite the many facts that I have disclosed, there are plenty more to saviour in the book. The book is jam-packed with interesting anecdotes, written like a novel and reads like a thriller. No doubt it may have peppered with a little drama and spice it up with gossips, the book is well researched, fluid and a delightful read. Katie Nicholls did a wonderful job on writing a compelling biography.
The only gripe I have about the book is that it was published originally as “Will and Harry” and repackaged as “The Making of Royal Romance” for the recent royal wedding, when it really is about Will and Harry. Minor complaint but a little misleading.
‘The really crucial thing about kingship is that a king or a queen must be initiated through a ritual to transform him or her from their ordinary status into something extraordinary.’ explained Quigley, who has a written a book called ‘ The Character of Kingship’. ‘ All of these would-be modernisers of the royal family have got it completely wrong. The more like one of us the king becomes, the less there is any reason for having a king. a king is a symbol, not a person.’ - page 146
Despite the princes’ desire or attempts to live like one of us and to do things that normal people like us enjoy doing, they can’t. Their biggest regret is not being able to be at the front line to fight like “one of the boys”. Pretending that they can is just farcical. They will be the shape of the Monarchy to come, for better for worse.
It is both fascinating and infuriating (The UK Taxpayers pay £50 million a year to protect 22 members of the Royal family, including the B-List) to read about the lives of Royal family, for me it’s more of the former and I am aware there are many who may find it latter.
I am reluctant to rate this one. Based on the writing, I’ll give it a 4.5 (as per my ratings definition). This book is an entertaining read. Even if you are not a Royal family aficionado! ;)
About the writer:
Katie Nicholl is Diary Editor and Royal Correspondent for The Daily Mail on Sunday where she started her career as a showbusiness editor. She is 32, married and lives in North London. She graduated from the University of East Anglia in English and American Literature with a 2-1 in 1998. In conjunction with her successful print career Katie is also a freelance broadcaster and regularly reports on the Royal Family for CBS News in America and and RTL and ARD in Germany . She regularly appears as a guest on Sky News, ITV’s This Morning, and the BBC.
I seem to be reading a lot for non-fiction reading challenge!
Paperback. Publisher: Arrow Books 2011; Length: 360 pages (16 of which are indexes) ; Setting: 1980’s Great Britain to present. Source: Reading Library Loot. Finished reading at: 16 May 2011.