Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
People's Prince Wills ready for the throne
A thorough and very readable new biography argues that Prince William is already qualified to become King of England.
Through exhaustive research and numerous interviews with Buckingham Palace insiders, British journalist and broadcaster Penny Junor concludes that with his gift for dealing with individuals from every walk of life, William is the People's Prince, just as his late mother, Diana, was known as the People's Princess.
This latest royal biography demonstrates that the second in line to the British throne is an accomplished, confident, impressive person.
A 30-year-old Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot, William, writes Junor, was devastated by his adored mother's death when he was just 15. He remains strong and resilient and remembers his mother's unconditional love while maintaining an excellent relationship with his father and with his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.
William is also, according to Junor, close to his younger brother, Prince Harry. William, his wife Kate and Harry have embarked on a number of charitable projects together. Junor says William is a natural leader.
This is Junor's sixth book about the Royal Family -- and four previous ones focused on William's parents, Prince Charles, and the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
Junor's in-depth knowledge of Charles and Diana results in the first 100 pages being devoted to Diana's and Charles's relationship and on Diana herself. In fact, Junor unfairly spends many pages trying to prove that Diana was suffering from "incipient mental illness."
None of this is information that hasn't been hypothesized in previous works but Junor's treatment of Diana is harsh, especially because Diana is not alive to defend herself.
Junor, on the other hand, is sympathetic to Prince Charles's current wife, the former Camilla Parker Bowles, now the Duchess of Cornwall. She justifies the affair between Camilla and Charles while each was married to others because their former spouses were also cheating with other people.
Over and over again, Junor writes how happy Camilla makes Charles.
Readers would have been better served had Junor chosen to focus less on William's parents and more on William himself and his wife, the former Kate Middleton.
Junor focuses so much on William's family and on members of his staff, who were given permission to speak to Junor for this book, that Prince William often feels like a secondary character in his own portrait.
Nevertheless, Junor is accurate in writing that William is one of the most important young men of his generation. She cites a recent survey that found William is the "most influential man in the world after U.S. President (Barack) Obama."
Junor says about William: "One day, he will inherit the throne of the United Kingdom. He will be Head of State, Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Colonel in Chief of the Armed Forces, and possibly Head of the Commonwealth... He will represent the nation to itself and be the ultimate symbol of stability in a world of rapid change."
She also reveals that William "hates the paparazzi" but reads "everything and remembers who writes what about him. William will engage with the media in his way. He is extremely wary but utterly determined to remain in control. Control in all things is very important to William."
An unnamed friend also told Junor: "Trust is William's big thing. He is very slow to trust people and I should think the single biggest driver of his relationship with Kate is trust."
William greatly admires Queen Elizabeth because of her ability to use your her position "for the good." This new biography demonstrates that so far, he's successfully following in her footsteps.
Brenlee Carrington, a Winnipeg lawyer and mediator, is the Law Society of Manitoba's equity ombudswoman.
Born to Be King, An Intimate Portrait
By Penny Junor
Hodder and Stoughton, 424 pages, $27
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 1, 2012 J8
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