March has come to an end, and that means it’s time to wrap up the Royalty Reading Challenge. This month, I read The Diana Chronicles, reviewed here, and also Prince William, Born to Be King, by Penny Junor.
Junor begins by calling William one of the most interesting people in the world, and there I have to disagree with her. William is dependable, respectful, and does his duty — meaning I think he’ll make a good king, but he is not too interesting. Princess Diana, now there is someone who is interesting. Would she have made a good monarch? We won’t know that, but she was volatile for sure.
Points I picked up about William:
- He was named William, Prince Charles said, because “it is not a name that now exists in the immediate family.”
- Junor contends that Diana sometimes changed her children’s nannies because she became jealous of their influence over the boys. She says that this was very hard on William especially, saying that after nanny Barbara Barnes was dismissed when he was four, “he became less outgoing, less trusting, less inclined to make himself vulnerable.”
- William was boisterous and naughty as a child, whereas Harry was more subdued. But as they grew up, the roles tended to switch: William becoming more thoughtful and deliberate, while Harry became the “wild child” we’ve seen described in the press. Much of this was probably due to their growing awareness of their roles in life.
- William seems to be the best of both his parents: he has Charles’ sense of duty and also Diana’s ability to relate to most anyone and empathize. Unlike Charles, he blends well with his peers (at Eton, he was elected to “Pop,” an honor given only to the best-liked and most successful boys there). And unlike Diana, he is very stable and dependable. He seems to be unscathed by his parents’ highly-publicized problems, and in fact he seems to have deliberately learned lessons from their difficulties and is determined not to repeat their mistakes.
- One theme running through the book was how close William and Harry are, especially since Diana’s death. Their personalities are quite different, and yet they complement each other well — they “almost parent each other.”
- Academically, William “wasn’t a star but he was certainly competent, and he could certainly hold his own.” Harry, on the other hand, apparently has tremendous struggles academically but does great with people.
- Friends report that if you want to understand William, you should look at his relationship with Kate’s family, the Middletons. They’re “nice, straightforward people,” uncomplicated and normal, and they’re not royal.
- William likes to control as much of his life as possible (understandable, given that many things are beyond his control). He and Kate took great pains with every aspect of their wedding, wanting “a day that is as enjoyable as possible, for as many people as possible.”
Junor clearly has some biases — she favors Charles over Diana (“he was angry and incredulous that his mother could have done such a thing)”, and doesn’t appear too impressed with Americans, either (she asserts that girls didn’t think William was all that good looking, “except perhaps for the Americans who fell at his feet”). She also calls Matt Drudge of news compilation site The Drudge Report “a US blogger with a gossipy website.”
Sometimes I wondered about her conclusions — having written a book about Kate Middleton myself, I knew from my research that William and Jecca Craig had apparently had a very serious relationship. However, Junor mentions it for only a few sentences, saying “it has long been asserted that the Craigs’ daughter, Jecca, was an early girlfriend, but friend is much closer to the mark.” No reason given as to how she reached this conclusion.
Some editing would have been helpful, too: she tells us that the Middletons are “extremely wealthy”, yet within seven lines we learn they are “resoundingly middle class.” Most of the way through, there is a section with photos. After that, there are several chapters which feel like last-minute add-ons, and pretty much data dumps (facts about Prince George’s arrival, the Canada tour, etc). And many chapters in the book consist largely of lengthy quotes from friends and associates of the prince.
I’ll have to say that Princess Diana’s biography was much more interesting than her son’s. But he comes across as a decent, caring, competent young man who will make a good King someday.
Did you read a book for the Royalty Reading Challenge? If so, let us know your thoughts in the comments. If your thoughts are lengthier, I’d love to run them as a guest post — just email me (under “about” tab at the top of the page). Or if you write a post on your own blog, add your link here.
In case you missed it, check out Melissa’s fascinating review of a book on Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation.
Thanks for participating! I have enjoyed the month and hope you have too. I’ll plan to do this again next March, if a royal book intrigues you between now and then …