Unlike some earlier sensation-seeking biographers, who have dwelt on the Diana disaster above all else, Ms. Bedell Smith, who has previously written biographies of the Kennedys and the Clintons, resists any temptation to take sides ... Here is one of the paradoxes of Charles evident from Ms. Bedell Smith’s masterly account: encased in his own glass box of privilege, he is sometimes quicker than elected politicians to voice popular dissent. Having seen where narrow duty can lead, he follows his instinct, sometimes naïvely.
Prince Charles is that rare portrait — pro-Charles and anti-Diana ... The marriage between Charles and Diana was unhappy virtually from the outset, so Smith claims and, I think, establishes with great judiciousness ... What’s remarkable about her portrait of Prince Charles is that he emerges as a man not deeply tainted by the complacent values of the world in which he was raised. Her Charles is a complex, somewhat troubled, sincere and questioning individual ... her book suggests that we can look forward to the reign of Charles III with quiet confidence.
Smith’s stance is very close to what one imagines a senior palace aide’s might be: Charles is far from ideal, but he is what we’ve got, and there can be no talk of mucking about with the law of succession and replacing him with his son ... Early on, however, it becomes apparent that Smith’s public-relations instincts are at war with a fundamental dislike of her subject. The grade-inflating summaries she offers at the beginning and the end of the book are overpowered by the damning portrait that emerges in between...Although the book would like to be a nuanced adjudication of the Prince’s 'paradoxes,' it ends up becoming a chronicle of peevishness and petulance.