A “devastating” new biography of Charles, the Prince of Wales, portrays the heir apparent as “pampered and petulant”, surrounded by chaos and seething with malice.
In Rebel Prince, investigative author Tom Bower reveals the trials and tribulations of Charles’ decades-long wait for the throne, gleaned from interviews with 120 sources.
“He’s a pampered, petulant prince and a man who, while he wants to do good and does do good, does not realise that he’s actually doing some harm as well. He doesn’t seem to care about that,” Bower told HuffPost UK in an interview.
Bower himself has been the subject of controversy – and multi-million pound lawsuits – over his previous books profiling powerful men.
Former New Statesmen owner Geoffrey Robinson described Bower as “messianic, almost to the extent of being unbalanced”.
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But Bower, who has written about Tony Blair, Richard Branson and says he is considering Jeremy Corbyn as his next subject, claims he chooses people to write about who “project an image that suits them”.
“They want to conceal the facts which are actually to their detriment. They use skilful and highly expensive PR men to present this wonderful, positive, glossy image,” he said.
“And my technique has been to look behind the gloss and present the reality and for that purpose I look for people who have worked with them, lived with them or encountered them, and you always find a very different story.”
Here are eight explosive claims in the unauthorised book:
1. Charles’s lavish spending is at odds with the Queen’s frugality
According to Bower, Charles, 69, instructs his staff to deliver his own bedroom furniture to houses where he is due to spend the night.
″And not just the odd chest of drawers,” Bower writes. “The truck contained nothing less than Charles and Camilla’s complete bedrooms, including the Prince’s orthopaedic bed, along with his own linen.”
Bower also alleges that the Prince’s personal protection officer is even “roped in” to help deliver Charles’ most specific demands, apparently by ensuring a flask filled with a pre-mixed Martini is handed to him at parties and events.
In contrast to the Queen, 91, who apparently keeps her spending to a bare minimum and is often photographed beside three-bar electric heaters, Charles’ extravagance also extends to travel.
Bower reveals that Charles once spent £18,916 to travel for a pint at a pub in Cumbria, and spent over £20,000 on a single plane journey.
The Queen, on the other hand, regularly spends as little as £50 on public train tickets to her Norfolk retreat at Sandringham.
2. Jimmy Savile had a very unusual role in Charles’ house
The disgraced late TV presenter Jimmy Savile served a highly unusual role within Charles’ household, Bower claims.
Savile, who was revealed to be a prolific paedophile after his death in 2011, is said by Bower to have personally been trusted by the Prince to vet potential senior staff.
Bower writes that on one occasion in the early 90s, Savile was asked by Charles to interview a candidate for the position of private secretary at the Prince’s home in Kensington Palace.
Savile, the book states, made unannounced visits to the palace and was invited to the Prince’s 40th birthday party.
There is no suggestion in the book, or elsewhere, that the Prince knew of Savile’s crimes, which were mostly revealed after the TV personality’s death in 2011.
3. He blames the Queen and Prince Philip for a terrible childhood
Charles has a distant and somewhat divisive relationship with his parents, according to the book.
The Prince has never truly forgiven the Queen and Prince Philip for their decision to send him to a remote Scottish school.
And as viewers of the latest series of Netflix drama ‘The Crown’ have seen, Charles’ experience at Gordonstoun was torturous.
The Prince is said to have particular memories of being forced to wear certain clothes by his father, prompting much ridicule from his peers at the time.
It is for these reasons, Bower says, that Charles continues to blame his parents for a terrible childhood, with his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, regarded by him “as an emotional gangmaster”.
4. The Queen’s disdain for Charles’ marriage to Camilla ‘is clear ... even in their wedding photo’
Charles was “inconsolable” after his mother, the Queen, said unexpectedly at a dinner in his and Camilla’s honour that she would not attend their wedding ceremony at Windsor Town Hall, Bower’s book claims.
So anxious to avoid controversy, Bower adds, the Queen rejected Charles’ proposal for a lavish Windsor Castle reception for 650 guests.
In the following days, Charles’ anger boiled over, Bower writes.
When asked by photographers to pose for pictures on the eve of his 2005 wedding, the Prince was caught on a hot microphone lambasting BBC Royal Correspondent Nicholas Witchell.
“I can’t bear that man,” Charles said to his sons William and Harry, believing his comments to be unheard. “He’s so awful, he really is.”
On the day itself, pictures show an impatient Queen alongside her son and his new wife on the steps of Windsor’s St George’s Chapel.
The monarch stood for less than a minute to capture official photographs, before turning around and returning to the state apartments.
According to Bower, the Queen seemed more interested in the result of the Grand National being held at the same time. The Monarch’s subsequent speech of congratulation made use, Bower says, of a horse racing analogy, with her reference to the wedding coming only after confirming the name of that year’s winner.
“My son is home and dry with the woman he loves. They are now on the home straight; the happy couple are now in the winners’ enclosure,” Bower reports the Queen as saying.
Charles was said to be furious Camilla was not mentioned by name.
5. Charles ranted within minutes of Diana’s death: ‘They’re all going to blame me’
Bower writes that in the hours after Diana, Princess of Wales’ death in August 1997, Charles was observed in self-pitying anguish.
Bower cites those present in Balmoral Castle, Scotland, as witnessing the Prince saying ”‘they’re all going to blame me aren’t they?’”.
Delays in the official Royal response to the tragedy are partly blamed in Bower’s book on the Prince’s hesitancy to respond.
6. Multiple footmen are ‘responsible for several yards of corridor’
One of the more bizarre claims to be made in Bower’s book again relates to the spending and lavish customs in Charles’ household.
Bower says that visitors to Clarence House, Charles’ official residence, are guided to rooms by not one but several footmen.
In some areas of the house, multiple footmen are responsible for several yards of the same corridor, leading to a strange situation whereby guests are handed over mid stride.
7. Charles’ former staff clearly have an axe to grind
Bower concedes that many of the sources for his book are aggrieved former staff members of Charles.
In his book, Bower describes Charles’ repeated habit of dropping those staff who fall out of favour like a hat. And even during their employment, staff describe Charles’ favouritism, evidenced in his choice of gift.
It would, Bower writes, be the difference between a prized clock bearing his official seal or food from his Duchy Organics brand; the subtle contrast between a typed note or a handwritten card.
8. Trouble is brewing over Charles’ Commonwealth ambition
Charles faces stunning humiliation in the aftermath of his mother’s death, Bower writes.
Disquiet among Commonwealth nations continues about the prospect of Charles taking over from his mother as the group’s notional head upon her death.
While many Commonwealth leaders have considerable respect for Elizabeth II, the same warmth is not extended to her eldest child.
Bower suggests that at least one Commonwealth nation will reject Charles’ presumptive leadership.
The prospect persuaded the UK government, Bower says, to hold off including a commitment to Charles’ succession in its official protocol.
Clarence House declined to comment on the book’s claims.
Rebel Prince has also been serialised by the Daily Mail, which describes it as “a devastating book by Britain’s top investigative author”.
Rebel Prince: The Power Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles (William Collins, £20) is available now.