Tuesday 19 December 2017

The Crown: What was Prince Charles really like as young boy – and why did he hate his time at Gordonstoun? / The Lonely Heir: Inside the Isolating Boarding School Days of Prince Charles / Rape, child abuse and Prince Charles’s former school / VIDEO: Princess Elizabeth, Duke Of Edinburgh And Prince Charles (1949)


The Crown: What was Prince Charles really like as young boy – and why did he hate his time at Gordonstoun?
The Crown season two explores the relationship between Prince Philip and his son Charles as he is sent away to school – but what's the history behind the drama?

By Eleanor Bley Griffiths
Friday, 15th December 2017 at 8:50 am

Prince Charles is at the heart of the second season of The Crown on Netflix as the heir to the throne grows up. Find out more about the history of Prince Charles and his time at school, along with who plays him in the Netflix drama, below.

What was Prince Philip like as a young man?
Discover the real history behind Netflix’s The Crown
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The Crown season 2: was Prince Philip unfaithful?
Who plays young Prince Charles in The Crown?

The Crown - young Prince Charles with the Queen Mother and Princess Anne
In The Crown’s second season, young Prince Charles and Princess Anne are actually played by two different sets of child actors. The roles are re-cast halfway through as the children age.

The first Prince Charles we meet in season two is played by Billy Jenkins. He also starred in season one and has also appeared in the TV series Humans.

The second Prince Charles is played by Julian Baring, who takes over the role to deliver an emotional performance in episode nine as we take a deep dive into Philip and Charles’ father-son relationship.

Did Prince Philip force Charles to go to Gordonstoun?
Yes, and it didn’t go very well.

Charles had an unusual – and unhappy – education. In his early years the prince thrived as he was educated at home by his governess Catherine Peebles (“Mipsy”), who later described him as dreamy and thoughtful. However, at the age of eight it was announced that the Prince would attend school: he was sent first to Hill House School in London and then transferred to Cheam School, the oldest private school in the country.

Cheam was not a big success, as he struggled to fit in and make friends. Reportedly a sensitive child, Charles was deeply homesick and attached to his teddy bear. However, his headmaster Peter Beck later told Radio Times: “Educationally he was a very hard-working and able boy, very lucid in spoken and written work. Some of his written work was very good indeed.”

As the prince came towards the end of his years at Cheam, the Queen and her husband had to decide where to send him next. Philip was keen for his son to follow in his footsteps and attend the school where he had spent his formative years: Gordonstoun, a remote school in north-east Scotland.

Not everyone was keen. Charles was very close to his maternal grandmother, the Queen Mother, who appreciated his sensitive nature and encouraged his interest in music, art and culture. The Queen Mother wrote to Elizabeth urging her to intervene and keep him closer to home.

Arguing that he would be “terribly cut off and lonely in the far north,” she wrote in a letter on 23rd May 1961: “I suppose he will be taking his entrance exam for Eton soon. I do hope he passes because it might be the ideal school for one of his character and temperament.”

But the Duke of Edinburgh won the debate, arguing that Eton was too close to Windsor and London and the boy would have more privacy from the press in Gordonstoun. He had taken responsibility for family decisions, while his wife concerned herself with affairs of state – and the Queen let him make the decision. So Philip, a qualified pilot, ceremoniously flew his son to an RAF base in Scotland and then drove the rest of the way.

Was Prince Charles miserable at Gordonstoun school?
Gordonstoun was completely wrong for Charles. Where the athletic and confident Philip had thrived, Charles was absolutely miserable. He later referred to his years at Gordonstoun as “a prison sentence”, calling the school “Colditz in kilts”.

Each day started with a run (whatever the weather) and then a cold shower. The kids slept in dormitories on hard bunks, with the windows open all year around, and older kids were free to enforce discipline on the younger students.

According to his fellow school friends, Charles was relentlessly bullied. His contemporary Ross Benson reported: “He was crushingly lonely for most of his time there. The wonder is that he survived with his sanity intact.”

With a Prince at the school, the rules became stricter (no drinking, no smoking, less freedom), and the boys took that out on poor Charles. Anyone who tried to be his friend or even talk to him was teased with slurping sounds for sucking up to him. On the rugby field he was a prime target.

Charles wrote in a letter home in 1963: “The people in my dormitory are foul. Goodness, they are horrid. I don’t know how anybody could be so foul.” In another, he told his mother: “I hardly get any sleep in the House because I snore and I get hit on the head all the time. It’s absolute hell.” In response, the Duke of Edinburgh sent his son stern letters urging him to be stronger and more resourceful.

As we see in The Crown, the young prince was guarded by the detective Donald Green, who did his best to be unobtrusive. Green became a friend and father figure, until he was sacked for letting 14-year-old Charles order a cherry brandy on a school trip – in the presence of a tabloid reporter. Charles was devastated to lose his one ally.

Still, Charles stayed on at Gordonstoun, eventually becoming Head Boy and earning two A-levels: History (grade B) and French (grade C).

The Queen and her husband also sent Prince Andrew and Prince Edward to Gordonstoun.

What was Prince Philip’s relationship like with his son Charles?
The penultimate episode of The Crown is enough to have even the most ardent republican weeping as we see the gulf of understanding between father and son. Prince Philip, failing to respect the ways his son is different from him and love him for the boy he is; and Prince Charles, unable to live up to his father’s expectations and constantly unable to please him.

Prince Charles later spoke openly about his difficult relationship with his father, most notably to Jonathan Dimbleby for an authorised biography in the early 1990s during the wreckage of his separation from Diana.

He spoke of a father who was a tough disciplinarian with a forceful personality, whose harsh words had forced him to retreat into himself. Friends who were authorised to speak to Dimbleby for the book described Prince Philip “belittling” and “bullying” his son.

In his younger years, Charles idolised his father and sought to please him, taking up his sports like polo and even (some observed) starting to walk like him, with one arm behind his back.

Later there was more anger, and as biographer Sally Bedell Smith notes, he has continued to complain about his years at Gordonstoun well into his sixties.

The Crown season 2 is available on Netflix now

The Lonely Heir: Inside the Isolating Boarding School Days of Prince Charles

Growing up, Prince Charles struggled to please his parents and to fill a role that was against his nature. In an adaptation from her new book, Sally Bedell Smith chronicles the brutal bullying the heir endured at school, and the unlikely place in which he found solace.
APRIL 2017

Scenes from Prince Charles’s Childhood

Before the stroke of midnight on November 14, 1948, Prince Charles Philip Arthur George officially became public property. While his 22-year-old mother, Princess Elizabeth, rested in her bedroom suite in Buckingham Palace, her newborn heir was brought to the vast gilded ballroom by the royal midwife, Sister Helen Rowe. Under the 46-foot-high ceilings—juxtaposed with the monarch’s massive throne draped in red-and-gold embroidered velvet—the infant was swaddled in white blankets and placed in a simple cot for viewing by the royal courtiers who served his grandfather King George VI and his grandmother Queen Elizabeth.

“Just a plasticine head,” observed Major Thomas Harvey, the Queen’s private secretary. “Poor little chap, two and a half hours after being born, he was being looked at by outsiders—but with great affection and good will.”

Charles was hemmed in by high expectations and scrutiny from the start—unlike his mother, who had 10 relatively carefree years of childhood. It was only when her father unexpectedly took the throne, in 1936, on the abdication of his older brother, King Edward VIII, that Princess Elizabeth assumed her position as next in line.

In December, four-week-old Charles was christened beneath the ornate dome of the Music Room at Buckingham Palace. The Archbishop of Canterbury doused the little prince with water from the river Jordan that had been poured into the gold Lily Font, designed by Prince Albert and used for all of his and Queen Victoria’s children. Delighted with her firstborn, Elizabeth breast-fed him for two months, until she contracted measles and was forced to stop. Yet she was often away from Charles in his infancy, spending as much time as she could with her husband, Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, an officer in the Royal Navy, who was posted to Malta in October 1949. She managed to celebrate her son’s first birthday, but afterward she was abroad, and separated from her son, for long intervals.

Prince Philip scarcely knew his son for the first two years of the boy’s life, though on his return from overseas duty he did take the time to teach Charles to shoot and fish, and to swim in the Buckingham Palace pool. When Prince Charles hit bottom after his separation from Diana, in 1992, he unburdened himself about the miseries of his youth to Jonathan Dimbleby, who was writing an authorized biography. Dimbleby noted that, as a little boy, Charles was “easily cowed by the forceful personality of his father,” whose rebukes for “a deficiency in behaviour or attitude . . . easily drew tears.” While brusque, Philip was “well-meaning but unimaginative.” Friends who spoke with Charles’s permission described the duke’s “belittling” and even “bullying” his son. Charles was less harsh about his mother, but his opinion had a bitter edge. She was “not indifferent so much as detached.”

Nearly two decades later, in 2012, Charles tried to make amends in a TV documentary tribute to the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee. Home movies depicted an idyllic childhood at the family’s country estates at Sandringham, in Norfolk, and Balmoral, in Scotland. Footage of Prince Philip teetering on a tricycle and zooming down a slide on the Royal Yacht Britannia contradicted his reputation as a tetchy martinet, and scenes of the Queen romping with her children were meant to dispel the notion of her being distant and unaffectionate.

Charles was sensitive from the start, and his finely tuned antennae were susceptible to slights and rebukes. During one luncheon at Broadlands, the home of Philip’s uncle Louis Mountbatten, the guests were served wild strawberries. Charles, aged eight, methodically began removing the stems from the berries on his plate. “Don’t take the little stems out,” Edwina Mountbatten said. “Look, you can pick them up by the stems and dip them in sugar.” Moments later, his cousin Pamela Hicks noticed that “the poor child was trying to put all the stems back on. That was so sad, and so typical of how sensitive he was.”

As Philip watched these traits emerging, he worried that Charles could become weak and vulnerable, so he set about toughening him up. Asked in an interview when he was 20 years old whether his father had been a “tough disciplinarian” and whether he had been told “to sit down and shut up,” Charles answered without hesitation: “The whole time, yes.”

More often than not, the duke was a blunt instrument, unable to resist personal remarks. He was sarcastic with his daughter, Anne, as well. But Charles’s younger sister, a confident extrovert, could push back, while the young prince wilted, retreating farther into his shell.

When Elizabeth became Queen, her dedication to her duties meant even less time for her children. She relied increasingly on her husband to make the major family decisions. Neither parent was physically demonstrative. That lack of tactile connection was achingly apparent in May 1954, when the Queen and Prince Philip greeted five-year-old Charles and three-year-old Anne with handshakes after an absence of nearly six months on a tour of Commonwealth nations. Martin Charteris, Elizabeth’s onetime private secretary, observed that Charles “must have been baffled by what a natural mother-son relationship was meant to be like.”

Charles was indulged by his maternal grandmother, the Queen Mother, and visited her frequently at Royal Lodge, her pale-pink home in Windsor Great Park, when his parents were away. As early as age two, he would sit on her bed playing with her lipsticks, rattling the tops, marveling at the colors. When he was five, she let him explore Shaw Farm, in the Windsor Home Park. She also opened up a world of music and art that Charles felt his parents didn’t adequately appreciate. “My grandmother was the person who taught me to look at things,” he recalled.

As heir to the throne, he made an inviting target for school-mates, who ridiculed his protruding ears.

She never hesitated to give her grandson the hugs he craved. She encouraged his kind and gentle nature—the eagerness to share his candy with other children, and, when choosing sides for games, to select the weakest first for his team. “Her protective side clocked in on his behalf,” said her longtime lady-in-waiting, Dame Frances Campbell-Preston. At the same time, with the best intentions, she fueled the young prince’s tendency to self-pity, which fed one of his strongest traits, known as “whinging”—the more pointed British word for whining.

Charles’s early home-schooling was supervised by Catherine Peebles, his sensible Glaswegian governess, nicknamed “Mispy,” who felt compassion for his insecurities and his tendency to “draw back” at the hint of a raised voice. Eager to please, he plodded diligently through his lessons but was easily distracted and dreamy. “He is young to think so much,” Winston Churchill remarked after observing Charles shortly before his fourth birthday.

One book that caught the prince’s eye and helped hone his sense of humor was Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Verses, a volume of poetry about the consequences of bad behavior. It brimmed with quirkiness and bizarre characters—a precursor to the sketches by the Goons and Monty Python comedy troupes, two happily subversive influences in his life. But by the time he was eight, the Queen and Prince Philip had decided that he needed the company of children in a classroom, making him the first heir to the throne to be educated outside the palace.

Early in 1957, he arrived in a royal limousine at Hill House School, in Knightsbridge, London. For all his parents’ efforts to put Charles in a normal environment—taking the bus to the playing fields and sweeping the classroom floors—he had difficulty mixing with the other boys. A newsreel of the school’s “field day” of sports competitions that spring showed a solemn prince introducing his parents to his classmates, who obediently bowed.

Charles had ability in reading and writing, although he struggled with mathematics. His first-term report noted that “he simply loves drawing and painting” and showed musical aptitude as well. But after a mere six months, his father transferred him to Cheam School, in Hampshire, where Philip himself had been sent at the age of eight. Although it was founded in 1645, the school had a progressive tilt, avoiding the exclusive atmosphere of other preparatory boarding schools.

Charles was just shy of his ninth birthday but considerably more vulnerable than his father. He suffered from acute homesickness, clutching his teddy bear and weeping frequently in private. “I’ve always preferred my own company or just a one to one,” he has said. As heir to the throne, he made an inviting target for school-mates, who ridiculed his protruding ears and called the pudgy prince “fatty.” He fell into a routine that included weekly letters home—the beginning of his passion for written correspondence. In the tradition of the time, he braved beatings from two different headmasters for flouting the rules. “I am one of those for whom corporal punishment actually worked,” he grimly recalled.

Charles had a fragile constitution. He suffered from chronic sinus infections and was hospitalized for a tonsillectomy in May 1957. Later that year, when he was bed-ridden at school with Asian flu, his parents didn’t visit him. (Both had been inoculated, so there was no fear of contagion.) Instead, before leaving for a royal tour of Canada, in October, the Queen sent him a farewell letter. The Queen and Prince Philip were again on tour, in India, when Charles came down with measles, at age 12.

Physically uncoordinated and slow as well as overweight, Charles had no talent for Rugby, cricket, or soccer—the prestige schoolboy sports. During vacations he joined local boys who lived near Balmoral for cricket matches. “I would invariably walk boldly out to the crease,” he recalled, “only to return, ignominiously, a few minutes later when I was out for a duck”—that is, having failed to score any runs. Elizabeth had taught Charles to ride, starting at age four. He was timorous on horseback, while his sister, Anne, was bold. Mostly he feared jumping. Anne’s equine prowess pleased her mother, and Philip saw a kindred spirit in her confidence and fearlessness.

Charles’s loneliness and unhappiness at Cheam were painfully obvious to his family. In a letter to Prime Minister Anthony Eden at the beginning of 1958, the Queen wrote, “Charles is just beginning to dread the return to school next week—so much worse for the second term.” She knew that Cheam was “a misery” to her son, according to a biography of Charles by Dermot Morrah, which was sanctioned by the royal family. Morrah observed that the Queen thought her son was “a slow developer.”

Asked as he was approaching his 21st birthday to describe the moment he first realized as a little boy that he was heir to the throne, Charles replied, “I think it’s something that dawns on you with the most ghastly inexorable sense . . . and slowly you get the idea that you have a certain duty and responsibility.” He did, however, experience an unanticipated jolt in the summer of 1958 while watching the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales, on television with some school-mates in the headmaster’s study at Cheam. Suddenly he heard his mother declare in a recorded speech that she was naming him the Prince of Wales—a mortifying moment for a shy nine-year-old boy who wanted desperately to be seen as normal and already carried the burden of his six other titles. Even as a very young boy, he was marked out as different.

The most important experience at Cheam was Charles’s discovery that he felt at home on a stage—a helpful skill for a public figure. For his role in a play about King Richard III, called The Last Baron, he spent hours listening to a recording of Laurence Olivier in a production of Shakespeare’s Richard III. It was November 1961, and once again his parents were abroad, this time in Ghana. In their place, the Queen Mother and Princess Anne watched the heir to the throne perform as Richard, the 15th-century monarch famous for his deformity.

“After a few minutes on to the stage shambled a most horrible looking creature,” the Queen Mother wrote to her daughter, “a leering vulgarian, with a dreadful expression on his twisted mouth; & to my horror I began to realize that this was my dear grandson!” She added that “he acted his part very well” and that “in fact he made the part quite revolting!”

Charles formed no lasting friendships during his five years at Cheam. The Queen Mother made a strong pitch to his parents for him to continue his education at Eton College, the ancient boarding school near Windsor Castle. She knew that Philip had been pushing for his own alma mater, Gordonstoun, located in an isolated part of northeastern Scotland. In a letter to the Queen in May 1961, the Queen Mother described Eton as “ideal . . . for one of his character & temperament.” If he went to Gordonstoun, “he might as well be at school abroad.” She pointed out, quite reasonably, that the children of the Queen’s friends were at Eton.

But Philip doubled down on the value of a rough-and-tumble education, arguing that Gordonstoun would be the best place for his timorous son. The Queen sided with Philip, sealing Charles’s fate.

The Queen did not accompany her husband in May 1962, when he delivered Charles to Gordonstoun. A certified pilot, Philip flew Charles to a Royal Air Force base in Scotland and drove him the rest of the way. With a 17th-century gray stone building at its center (built in a circular design, according to legend, by Sir Robert Gordon so that no devils could fly into corners), the campus had an undistinguished collection of seven pre-fabricated wooden residences that had previously been used as R.A.F. barracks. The prince was assigned to Windmill Lodge with 13 other boys, the start of an ordeal that he viewed as nothing less than a “prison sentence.”

The school’s founder, Kurt Hahn, was a progressive educator who had been a Rhodes scholar at Oxford and ran a school in southern Germany called Salem. Hahn, who was Jewish, fled to Britain after Hitler came to power. He established Gordonstoun in 1934, with Prince Philip among the first students. The school’s motto: “There is more in you.”

Hahn sought to develop character along with intellect. He promoted Plato’s idealistic vision in The Republic of a world where “philosophers become kings . . . , or till those we now call kings and rulers truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.” Contemplating his future reign, Charles would identify with the philosopher king, a notion later encouraged by well-meaning advisers who championed the idea of an “activist” monarch who would impose his wide-ranging worldview on his subjects.

Physical challenges at Gordonstoun were at the heart of building character. The testing began with the boys’ attire (short trousers throughout the year) and the living conditions (open windows at all times in the grim dormitories). The day began with a run before breakfast, followed by a frigid shower. “It was a memorable experience, especially during the winter,” recalled Somerset Waters, a school-mate of Charles’s. The prince nevertheless became so accustomed to the morning ritual that as an adult he continued to take a cold shower each day, in addition to the hot bath drawn by his valet.

Hahn aimed to create an egalitarian society where “the sons of the powerful can be emancipated from the prison of privilege,” an ethos that suited Philip when he was there. His assertive personality and Teutonic sensibility helped him adjust to the school’s demands. He was also a natural athlete who served as captain of both the cricket and hockey teams. Charles had neither his father’s resilient temperament nor his relative anonymity, and he lacked the physical prowess to command respect. Encumbered by his titles and his status as heir to the throne, he was singled out as a victim from his first day. “Bullying was virtually institutionalized and very rough,” said John Stonborough, a classmate of Charles’s.

In 1963, tabloids picked up the “cherry brandy” incident; Charles was devastated when his friend and mentor, Donald Green (in circle, left), was fired.

The housemaster at Charles’s dorm was Robert Whitby, “a truly nasty piece of work,” recalled Stonborough. “He was vicious, a classic bully, a weak man. If he didn’t like you, he took it out on you. He was wrong for Charles.” Whitby, like the other housemasters, handed over the running of the houses to senior boys, who imposed a form of martial law, with ritualized psychological and physical abuse that included tying boys up in laundry baskets under a cold shower. Few students would walk with Charles to meals or class. Those boys who tried to befriend the prince were derided with “slurping” noises. Many years later Charles complained, with evident anguish, that since his schooldays people were always “moving away from me, because they don’t want to be seen as sucking up.”

As at Cheam, he was taunted for his jug ears, which his great-uncle Earl Mountbatten unavailingly urged his parents to have surgically pinned back. During intra-house Rugby matches, teammates and opponents alike pummeled Charles in the scrum. “I never saw him react at all,” recalled Stonborough. “He was very stoic. He never fought back.” At night in the dormitory, the bullies tormented Charles, who detailed the abuse in anguished letters to friends and relatives.

Charles found one escape at the nearby home of Captain Iain Tennant and his wife, Lady Margaret. She was the sister of a childhood friend of the Queen’s, David Airlie (the 13th earl). Tennant was chairman of Gordonstoun, so he could extend the privilege of weekend visits, when Charles would “cry his eyes out,” said Sir Malcolm Ross, who served as one of the Queen’s longtime senior advisers. “Iain and Margy really saved him from complete misery,” said David Airlie’s wife, Virginia.

A crucial day-to-day support for Charles was Donald Green, the royal bodyguard who, in time, became a father figure. Green stood six feet five, dressed well, drove a Land Rover, and seemed “slightly James Bond-ish” to the other boys. Green was Charles’s one constant friend, although there was little he could do about the abuse that occurred within the dormitories. This friendship, more readily made than with Charles’s peers, set the prince’s lifelong pattern of seeking company with his elders.

In June 1963, during Charles’s second year, he was sailing on the school ketch, the Pinta, to the Isle of Lewis. The boys were taken to a pub in the village at Stornoway Harbor, where the 14-year-old prince ordered a cherry brandy. “I said the first drink that came into my head,” he recalled, “because I’d drunk it before, when it was cold, out shooting.” Unbeknownst to Charles, a tabloid reporter was present, and his foray into under-age drinking became banner headlines in the tabloids as “the whole world exploded around my ears.” Afterward, the Metropolitan Police fired Don Green, robbing Charles of an ally and confidant. Charles was devastated, saying later that “I have never been able to forgive them for doing that. . . . I thought it was the end of the world.”

Charles had middling success in his coursework—with the exception of his declamatory ability—but he found a creative refuge in the art room presided over by a kind and somewhat effete master in his 20s named Robert Waddell. The prince gravitated toward pottery rather than painting—“like an idiot,” he later said. Classical music served as a balm as well. His grandmother had taken him to see a concert by cellist Jacqueline du Pré, inspiring him to take up the instrument at age 14. “It had such a rich deep sound,” he recalled. “I’d never heard sounds like it.”

Gordonstoun nearly extinguished Charles’s budding interest in Shakespeare, as he and his classmates “ground our way” through Julius Caesar for standardized tests. The Bard came alive only after the arrival in 1964 of a new English master, Eric Anderson—like the art teacher Waddell, also in his 20s—who encouraged Charles to act in several of Shakespeare’s dramas. In November 1965 he played the lead in Macbeth. His interpretation, said Anderson, evoked “a sensitive soul who is behaving in a way that is really uncharacteristic of him because of other forces.” Charles was excited about the prospect of his parents’ coming to see a performance. But as he “lay there and thrashed about” onstage, he wrote in a letter, “all I could hear was my father and ‘Ha, ha, ha.’ ” Afterward, he asked Prince Philip, “Why did you laugh?” “It sounds like the Goons,” said his father—a dagger to the heart of a young man so eager to please.

He similarly disappointed Philip in team sports, although he did develop considerable skill in the more solitary pursuit of fishing, along with traditional upper-crust shooting. At 13, Charles shot his first stag, steeling himself to the sight of the beast being eviscerated by servants on the hillside at Balmoral.

In 1961, he took up polo, eager to follow his father. “I was all for it,” said Charles. “At least you stay on the ground”—as opposed to jumping over fences in fox-hunting. By 1964, Charles was applying himself to the sport more seriously. That year, he also started playing practice matches with Philip at the Household Brigade Polo Club, on Smith’s Lawn, at Windsor Great Park. Still a censorious figure, Philip nevertheless was idolized by Charles. The young prince began to mimic his mannerisms—walking with one arm behind his back, gesturing with his right forefinger, clasping his hands for emphasis, and pushing up the sleeve of his left arm.

With renewed determination to give his son backbone, Philip made the unusual decision to send him to Australia at age 17 for two terms in the outback at Timbertop, the wilderness branch of the Geelong Church of England Grammar School, in Melbourne. Other than a trip on the Britannia to Libya, at age five, it was Charles’s first time leaving Europe.

Philip assigned David Checketts, his equerry—an aide-de-camp entrusted with logistics—to supervise his son’s stay Down Under. Unlike other royal advisers, the 36-year-old Checketts was decidedly middle-class. The product of a state-run grammar school, he had served in the Royal Air Force. His down-to-earth manner put the uncertain prince at ease.

Charles and Checketts arrived in Australia in early February 1966. They were greeted by a daunting contingent of more than 300 reporters and photographers that the prince endured with gritted teeth. At Timbertop he shared a bedroom and sitting room with a handpicked roommate, Geelong’s head boy.

The prince was liberated by the informality of a country where, as he quickly discerned, “there is no such thing as aristocracy or anything like it.” For the first time, he was judged on “how people see you, and feel about you.” Students and masters treated him as one of them, and to his surprise he felt little homesickness. He was mildly teased as a “Pommie,” Australian slang for Englishman, but faced none of the sadistic hazing endemic at Gordonstoun.

The boys did only a modicum of studying. Timbertop was all about physical challenges, which Charles now embraced with surprising success. He undertook cross-country expeditions in blistering heat, logging as many as 70 miles in three days—climbing five peaks along the way—and spending nights freezing in a sleeping bag. He proudly relayed his accomplishments in his letters home.

He encountered leeches, snakes, bull ants, and funnel-web spiders, and joined the other students in chopping and splitting wood, feeding pigs, picking up litter, and cleaning out fly traps—“revolting glass bowls seething with flies and very ancient meat.” It was a more physically testing experience than Gordonstoun, “but it was jolly good for the character and, in many ways, I loved it and learnt a lot from it.” On his own terms, in the right circumstances, he showed his toughness and proved to his father that he was not, in fact, a weakling.

On weekends he relished ordinary life with David Checketts’s family at the farm they rented near the small town of Lillydale. He indulged his passion for fishing, helped David’s wife, Leila, in the kitchen, played with their three children, and watched television in his pajamas. In completely relaxed surroundings he perfected his talent for mimicry by performing routines from his favorite characters on The Goon Show, which to his “profound regret” had ended its run on the radio in 1960. One of his best efforts was Peter Sellers’s falsetto “Bluebottle.”

Charles reveled in the sheer Goons silliness. (Seagoon: “Wait! I’ve got a hunch!” Grytpype-Thynne: “It suits you!”) Later in life he would rely on a sense of absurdity as an antidote to his oppressive surroundings. Goons humor, typically British, was all about breaking the rules, which carried an extra frisson of pleasure for the heir to the throne.

Charles enjoyed his six months in Australia “mainly because it was such a contrast to everything he couldn’t stand about Gordonstoun,” said one of his advisers, recalling the bullying that had so tormented him. He also showed his mettle during some 50 official engagements—his first exposure to crowds on his own. “I took the plunge and went over and talked to people,” he recalled. “That suddenly unlocked a completely different feeling, and I was then able to communicate and talk to people so much more.” The Australians, in turn, discovered “a friendly, intelligent, natural boy with a good sense of humor,” said Thomas Garnett, the headmaster of Timbertop, “someone who by no means has an easy task ahead of him in life.” When he left, in July 1966, his mates gave him a rousing “three cheers for Prince Charles—a real Pommie bastard!”

After an extended summertime stay at Balmoral, Charles returned to Gordonstoun in the autumn of 1966 for his final year. Headmaster Robert Chew named him head boy, known by the Platonic term “Guardian.” Among the prince’s privileges as Guardian was his own bedroom in the apartment assigned to Robert Waddell, “the quiet alter ego of Gordonstoun,” in the view of Charles’s cousin and godson Timothy Knatchbull, who later attended the school. “With his tittle-tattle and his mini-snobbery . . . [Waddell] had the sort of mind of a Victorian matron. He was a wonderful other pole of Gordonstoun, away from the sort of knobby-kneed brigade.” Charles’s only lasting friendships from his five years on the shores of the Moray Firth were with his older masters, Anderson and Waddell.

After he left with his parents for Balmoral at the end of July 1967, Charles obediently said that Gordonstoun had taught him self-control and self-discipline, and had given “shape and form and tidiness” to his life, although in fact he was personally disorganized. Always a correct, dutiful, and seemingly mature figure in the public eye, Charles nevertheless remained socially awkward and emotionally immature, even as he appeared old before his time. Surprisingly, his parents acknowledged to authorized royal biographer Dermot Morrah that the Gordonstoun experiment had fallen short of their hopes, and that Charles was “a square peg in a round hole.” Morrah wrote in To Be a King, his 1968 book about Charles’s early life, that the school had driven the prince only “further in upon himself.” Well into his 60s, Charles continued to complain about the unhappiness he had felt at Gordonstoun. And as his cousin Pamela Hicks observed, “he can never leave anything behind him.”

Adapted from Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, by Sally Bedell Smith, to be published this month by Random House; © 2017 by the author.

‘The assault changed me completely. I was a model student until that evening’: John

Rape, child abuse and Prince Charles’s former school

One of Scotland’s leading schools is facing claims by former students that they were abused by paedophiles. Alex Renton reveals how the country’s archaic laws are failing to bring them justice
‘The assault changed me completely. I was a model student until that evening’: John.

Alex Renton
Sunday 12 April 2015 08.00 BST Last modified on Monday 13 April 2015 14.49 BST

It was the happiest time of the school year. Kate, which is not her real name, and her class of 12- and 13-year-olds would soon leave Aberlour House, their home for a third or more of their lives. Next term most of them would start at the senior school, Gordonstoun, a famously severe Scottish institution that Prince Charles had once described as “Colditz in kilts”. Fifteen children, all boarders and fresh out of exams, set off into the Scottish mountains for a week’s camping.

“Exped” is one of Gordonstoun’s traditions, born of the unique vision of the school’s founder, the educational innovator Kurt Hahn. A refugee from Nazi Germany, Hahn is most famous for founding the Outward Bound movement. But before that, in 1934, he set up a revolutionary new school in a dilapidated stately home in Moray, northeast Scotland. Schooling would include mountains, the sea, fresh air and soul- stiffening adventures.

Gordonstoun was a success, especially after Prince Philip of Greece, now the Duke of Edinburgh, arrived. Other royals followed: five of the Queen’s children and grandchildren went there, despite Charles’s complaints. By the 1970s it was touted as a place for spoilt or wealthy children who needed toughening up – Sean Connery and David Bowie’s sons went, and so did Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter. Physical punishment, strict discipline and cold showers were key to Hahn’s approach to keeping children in line.

The school was notorious not just for being tough, but for bullying. The novelist William Boyd, who started boarding there aged nine, described his nine-and-a-half years at Gordonstoun’s junior and senior schools as “a type of penal servitude”. Smaller children were at the mercy of older ones and violence, theft and extortion were common. As part of his initiation at Gordonstoun, Prince Charles, aged 13, is said to have been caged naked in a basket and left under a cold shower.

In 1936, Hahn founded a preparatory school for Gordonstoun, to cater for children as young as seven. The regime at Aberlour House was not much softer. In the 1970s there was no central heating. Windows were left open at night: in the winter, the children could wake up with snow on their blankets. The school was separate, situated half an hour away, though Gordonstoun helped manage it. The schools shared a uniform, school song and the motto Kurt Hahn had devised: “Plus est en vous,” a contraction of a French phrase – there is more in you than you imagine.

Mutual respect, resilience and trust were the cornerstones of Hahn’s notions of how to educate a child. His ideas have made Gordonstoun one of Britain’s most famous public schools. But a series of complaints sent to me covering 40 years reveal a dark alternative history. Not all of the stories can be detailed here. But, too often to be excused, Gordonstoun and its junior school appear to have let down the trust of parents and failed to respect the rights and needs of children. Predatory paedophiles are a part of the history of many celebrated schools in Britain. But Gordonstoun’s story is particularly urgent because Scotland’s archaic laws around proving sexual assault dissuade victims from coming forward. They can mean predators, who might be brought to trial, remain at large and free to offend.

Kate arrived at Aberlour House on a bursary in the 1980s. She was nine years old. Initially she was bullied by other pupils for being poor and having a Scottish accent. But by her last year at the junior school she was a prefect – a “colour bearer”, in Hahn’s militaristic system. She was, she says, a perfect, docile product of the educator’s ethos. “I was a really good girl, I didn’t misbehave, I got on with my work. I was a good citizen,” she explains, a twist in her smile.

The lochside where the children camped saw the end of that Kate. What she says happened beside it has tarnished her life: an assault by a serial rapist, the trusted young teacher in charge of the expedition. Her most vivid memory of the subsequent summer days in the Highlands is of the moment when she went to a cliff-top, having decided to end her life. She was 12.

The exped was led by a male teacher. “He was young and everyone thought he was cool. We wanted to go,” remembers Kate.

Mr X, as we must call him, was in sole charge of the trip. As the excited children got ready in their dormitories at Aberlour House, he supervised the packing. He told them – as other witnesses told the police – not to bother with bathing costumes. “As a kid, I suppose, you just think – skinny-dipping! As an adult, you go… What?”

The exped set off in high excitement. “We got there, the banks of a loch, somewhere in the middle of nowhere and he said there weren’t enough tents. So, we were a tent short, which meant that somebody would have to sleep in his tent each night. We’d have to ‘rotate’.”

“At dinner-time we all had coffee and, a few of the girls, he filled their mugs with alcohol. I think it was rum. I felt a bit giddy. In the tent, the first night, it was me and two other girls. I remember being cold, wearing a jumper. And he started touching me, when they were still in the tent. I didn’t know what to do. I was totally frozen, scared. I pretended to be asleep thinking it might stop. They left the tent, they were embarrassed, they knew what was going on. So they went to sleep somewhere else and left me alone with him. They were just in another tent, they must have heard everything. So they all knew it had happened.

“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t do anything. I was terrified. I don’t remember much but the pain, on my cervix… He wore a condom. What kind of a man takes a packet of condoms on a school camping trip?”

She didn’t confide in anyone. “It was awful. Five or six more nights. Nobody spoke to me. I didn’t speak to anyone.”

For the rest of the trip Mr X ignored her. One day, lonely and confused, Kate wandered away from the campsite, contemplating suicide. “I got to the edge of the cliff, completely on my own, in the middle of nowhere. I was going to do it, and then I just thought, ‘No. Actually, maybe, I won’t do this.’”

Kate then began to have an inkling that she was not the only girl targeted. “The girls who were bitchy to me already were more bitchy, led by Jane [which is not her real name]. She was, I realise now from what the police have told me, already in a relationship with him. And the other girls were her gang.

“Later on, X said he had to go down to the village for something. It was because one of the boys had to make a call to his parents. He said to this other girl, Jane, she had to come as well.”

This boy remembers the event well. “He bought us two drinks each – half-pints or pints. I’d never had alcohol in my life. I remember giggling about it with Jane. I think now that I was there because it would have been weird for him to have gone just with her, in a pub buying a 13-year-old drinks. It’s better if there are two of you.”

The boy believes that X’s relationship with Jane lasted a year or more. “Once I was with her in his bedsit in the school, chatting with him. I left the room, but I went back very quickly and the door was locked. When I knocked no one answered, but I knew they were in there.” This was just one of several incidents when X and Jane were in rooms alone, often with doors locked. “You don’t think much of it at the time, but something lodges, because you do remember them as something that wasn’t right – an adult and a 13-year-old.”

X continued for at least another year at Aberlour. He would occasionally see Kate in a corridor: “He was checking up on me. He used to say to me: ‘You’ll die before me.’ I’ve no idea what he meant.”

At Gordonstoun the following year, the bullying began. It was led by Jane and it was rooted in the rape at the campsite. Girls would sing a song in Kate’s hearing about “That night in the tent.” The rumours of what happened at the campsite spread. Both she and Jane subsequently changed their names by deed poll – not unusual for adults trying to rebuild themselves after childhood abuse.

Now, Kate can begin to understand the root of Jane’s antagonism. “I always had a feeling there was something there – and now I realise the extent of what happened with her and the reason why she bullied me so much. In some ways, she had it worse than me. She considered herself in a relationship with him. I suppose she was in love with him.”

When she was 16, Kate’s father died in an accident. She had always been close to him. When she was 14 she had tried to tell him about X. “I started by saying a teacher made a pass at me and he freaked out. I didn’t tell him any more, I didn’t want to hurt him.” His death hit her hard, and she ended up in hospital after overdosing on paracetamol.

“I was such a mess. Gordonstoun threatened to kick me out, after my father was killed, unless I had psychiatric help.” After treatment, she returned to the school and found that one thing had changed. The bullying, the gossip and name-calling stopped. But now, in her 40s, with her own children, Kate is still dealing with X’s assault.

 “Just recently, I realised I’ve spent my whole life trying to prove I’m not his victim. I’ve always said it has not affected me. Not me, I’m absolutely fine. In actual fact it has given me some very unhealthy patterns of behaviour, and also feelings towards myself. I only realised this in the past year, on my own. I wanted to prove I wasn’t scared, of men, of sex. All that stuff. I wasn’t going to be the classic rape victim. I thought I had sorted it all out.”

There are other stories, too. At the age of seven, John also started at the school one summer in the 1980s. Kate remembers him: “Just the sweetest little boy.” He was following a family tradition: his father went to both Aberlour and Gordonstoun. John’s father remains a believer in Kurt Hahn’s philosophy of teaching trust and self-discipline. He is a member of the fundraising committee of the Kurt Hahn Foundation, which raises money for scholarships to the school.

Most of John’s memories of Aberlour are of happiness and success. He wanted to board and did well. He excelled at sport and passed the exams to go on to the senior school with a commendation.

After a year or two, a new teacher arrived to take charge of English. “An eccentric,” says another student from that time, “a know-it-all and a show off”. Derek Jones was a keen photographer and ran the photography club. Pupils remember him wandering the school, a camera hanging down to his belly, his hands resting on top. His wanderings took him to the sports changing rooms. Supervision of this place was the matron’s job. Nonetheless, “Jones would often spend prolonged periods around the changing rooms and in the shower room,” says John.

John got to know Jones well after he was cast in the 1988 school panto. Late one night in his final year, 1990, John left the dormitory seeking help. Two of his toenails had been surgically removed after being broken in a rugby match that afternoon, and the painkillers had worn off. Jones found him, took him into his bedroom and said that he could provide some special, very strong painkillers so long as John promised to keep it secret. “He told me if I told anyone he would get into trouble, while he was only trying to do me a favour and help me.”

Half an hour later, Jones assaulted John in his bed in the dormitory. After stroking and patting the boy, he reached under the covers, pulled down his boxer shorts and attempted to masturbate him. John, under the effect of the pills, tried to push the teacher off him. He found he could not speak. After minutes of panicky struggle, Jones stopped the fondling and put his head under the covers, turning on a torch. John heard a camera’s shutter click and click again. He believes Jones took half a dozen photographs.

After Jones left the room, John struggled to get out of bed. It took a while, but eventually he woke his best friend, Michael. He told him what had happened and together the two 12-year-olds went to Jones’s room to confront him.

The stand-off lasted an hour. Jones denied all. He said that John must have imagined it, as a result of the pills. John and Michael demanded the camera and the film rolls they could see on Jones’s desk. If nothing had happened, then surely Jones wouldn’t mind them getting the films developed. The teacher refused and eventually the boys, exhausted, went back to bed.

A few weeks after the assault, John was driving with his mother. They were both listening to a Radio 4 programme and a woman was talking of her abuse as a child. “I know just how she feels,” said John.

The parents took their child to see the much-liked headmaster, David Hanson. “I went with John,” his father told me. “It was obvious that the headmaster believed him. There was no reason not to. He referred the matter to Gordonstoun.” The police were called and interviewed John and other pupils and members of staff. Jones was sacked. John’s parents say that they were encouraged not to seek a prosecution. Going into a witness box might be damaging for their son.

The school promised that in return for co-operation over not insisting on prosecution, it would ensure that Jones never taught again. “We accepted that,” says John’s father. “It was adequate, because there was a categoric assurance, a cast-iron guarantee that under no circumstances would Jones ever again teach children in a school. He would be barred.” He adds that this pledge was repeated in a letter from Gordonstoun’s then bursar, George Barr.

When John returned to the school, Jones was gone, but things had changed. “There had naturally been a lot of gossip among the pupils. I felt eyes in the back of my head from other students. I remember being called a ‘homo’. I suppose in the eyes of some children I must have been a ‘homo’ to have ‘allowed’ it to happen. There was a fight arranged in the senior boot-room during break time and after that I was no longer a ‘homo’. The remaining time there was happy.”

But as he went on to the senior school, the wider repercussions of Jones’s assault became apparent. The head boy and sporting hero of the junior school now kept his head down. Crucially, his faith in adults was gone. “It changed me completely,” he says today. “I was a model student until that evening. I became a nightmare. If I was bored, I made mischief. I left Gordonstoun having failed my A levels, I didn’t go to university. My life since school has involved drug use, alcoholism and a distinct lack of belief and trust that those who say they will always be there, actually will.”

John eventually got on with his life and became a successful businessman. But he was not at ease: his sense that justice was not done back in 1990 exacerbated with the worry that Jones might have preyed upon other children.

The stories told here are not the only ones to stain Aberlour House and Gordonstoun. A startling series of allegations, dating back to the 1960s, has emerged in recent years. They’re not all ancient history. Kevin Lomas, a teacher at the senior school during Kate and John’s time was jailed in 2008 for sexual offences against young girls at a tutoring school he ran in Oxfordshire.

During the 16 years Lomas worked at Gordonstoun he had a reputation for inappropriate sexual activity: he was known for his fumbling attempts to kiss the girl pupils – “with tongue”. He, too, took children on exped. A Gordonstoun spokesperson told us: “There is no suggestion that Mr Lomas committed any criminal behaviour during his time at the school.” If there were, then or now, the school would inform the police.

Such events and others, coupled with the stream of recent stories about sex scandals and cover-ups in celebrated public schools, sparked talk among Gordonstoun’s ex-pupils. In 2013 some of them began a private Facebook group, discussing things that had happened at the school, “that you don’t see in the brochures and the class photographs”, as one of them put it. Rapes, of boys and girls, were mentioned. Kate started to receive messages from girls she had known, apologising for the gossip and rumours, for the bullying, and for not having done more to help.

The group eventually involved more than 100 ex-pupils. Acting in concert, they presented the school with a list of demands: it should do more to address bullying and sexual abuse, issue an apology to past victims and fund help for them and, notably, promise in future to report any incidents to the police.

John briefly joined the group, but left it, thinking the chatter was futile: “It was mainly about bullying, old classroom rows.” But he had already decided that he had to act on Jones: “I had a duty to make sure this bastard was not still out there doing things to kids.” So in February 2014 he went to the police. Their subsequent investigation stretched as far as New Zealand. Eventually, John was told Derek Jones could not be brought to trial or offend again. He had died in a car crash in Kenya, five years earlier.

But if that was any consolation for John, it was spoilt by the shock of the other information the officer – who has declined to comment – then handed over. Despite Gordonstoun’s solemn assurances, Derek Jones had gone on to teach, and potentially abuse, elsewhere. He had been forced to leave a school in Essex and had then surfaced and taught in Kenya. It is unclear what happened in East Africa, but former colonies there have provided a home for several predatory paedophiles sacked from English private schools – some of whom have gone on to offend again. Scottish police have identified both the Essex and Kenya school where Jones taught, but have refused to name them to the Observer.

John’s parents were horrified at the news. John’s father told me: “I trusted the school. They said they’d make absolutely sure he’d never teach again. They didn’t. And, if he did teach, that tells me someone at Gordonstoun must have given him a reference.”

The school told police that it could not find a copy of the letter the Gordonstoun bursar, George Barr, sent to John’s father, promising Jones would not teach again, because paperwork had been lost. It says that during this period, Aberlour had separate ownership and management. But one ex-head teacher of Aberlour from the time says that Gordonstoun staff were often involved in the junior school and that the two shared governors. (Since 2002 Aberlour has been fully merged with Gordonstoun). The school says it has co-operated with the police in its investigations into Aberlour House, Jones and Mr X.

“When the Facebook thing kicked off, says Kate, “my daughter had just turned 12. And I thought: ‘You know, she’s still got gappy teeth!’ And I actually started to see myself then differently, completely differently. For all these years I’d not seen myself really as a child. My daughter brought it home to me that that is what I was.”

Kate made a formal complaint, which was dealt with by the same police team who addressed John’s case. The subsequent investigation – again, Police Scotland won’t discuss it – turned up impressive numbers of witnesses with evidence to support Kate’s claim. Crucially, police also found Jane and interviewed her. She told Kate, indirectly, how grateful she was that Kate had come forward. An arrest was made and Mr X made his first appearance in court – a process which in Scotland is private – to face allegations spanning four years.

For nearly a year, Kate prepared herself for facing X in court. It was very hard: the prospect of seeing him again was anguishing. She’d already had to identify him in a police line-up. That had caused her near-collapse. A local policewoman was made her liaison officer and became an emotional support; one of the things she told her was that Jane had asked the police to pass on her thanks: “Getting X to justice was the best thing that ever happened to her.”

“When [the Procurator Fiscal’s office] rang me and said, ‘It’s all fallen apart,” I could not believe it. They were so certain it was all going to happen, that it was a done deal. I’d hung my hopes on the fact that it was. I was looking forward to it even though it would be horrendous. I knew I’d be a blubbering mess in court, but I wanted it and now it was taken away. I thought, how do I move forward? I still don’t know how to move forward. I’m angry I allowed the whole thing to dominate my life again. And now I know I haven’t got anywhere.” Unfortunately the case was dropped when it became clear that Jane would be unable to give evidence. Kate cannot help but feel bitter. “I want to have compassion for her and at times I do. I know she’s been through an awful lot. But it’s hard not to have dark thoughts.”

In truth, what has dragged Kate back to the horrors of her school days is not Jane’s inability to give evidence but an arcane piece of Scottish criminal law – the principle of corroboration. Under it two independent witnesses or pieces of evidence are needed to confirm the key facts of a crime – in this case the identity of the alleged rapist and the fact of the rape. This is far from easy with crimes that tend to take place in private, such as sexual assault and domestic violence – and as a result, Scotland’s rates of reporting of rape and convictions are among the lowest in the world.

Without forensic or medical evidence, prosecuting Mr X demanded two victims – Kate and Jane. The loss of Jane’s evidence was fatal to the case, because the offence was in Scotland. If the allegation against X had concerned an event in England, or almost anywhere else in the world, the case would, the Observer has been told, have gone ahead without the need for corroboration. In England, also, John, Kate and others who suffered at the school would be able to bring civil compensation cases if their allegations were proven.

No official is permitted to discuss the case of X, but we have established that a thorough investigation was carried out, involving many of the people who were present at the campsite as well as other teachers. Nothing other than the lack of a corroborating witness, after Jane’s withdrawal, emerged that might have derailed the case coming to court. The only consolation for Kate and Jane is that there is no bar to the investigation being reopened.

There is a simpler question for Gordonstoun and the 160 or more private boarding schools currently facing allegations about sexual crimes committed against their pupils – can they protect their children properly now? The Observer passed Gordonstoun’s lengthy manual of “Child Protection Policy and Procedures” to Mandate Now, a campaign group lobbying to make child-protection systems in British institutions effective.

It examined the document in the light of many others adopted by hospitals, schools, care homes and social services and gave it a score of 4 out of 10. “It is verbiage, containing a number of disturbing flaws, ” Mandate Now says. Reflecting the point made by the Gordonstoun ex-pupils, the report fails, it says, to make it clear that abuse or allegations of abuse need to be reported to an outside authority. Without that safety net, in place now in most British schools, cover-up always remains a possibility.

Gordonstoun says this complaint is irrelevant because the analysis is based on English practice. Its policy is based on Scottish government guidelines. A spokesperson said: “Pastoral care at Gordonstoun is highly regulated and is at the heart of everything that we do… Child protection is something we take very seriously and we are committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for all our students. We have rigorous child-protection policies that have been developed with guidance from expert agencies. The latest independent report into the school… made particular reference to ‘the extremely positive health promotion and child-protection procedures’ in place at Gordonstoun.”

The response went on: “We want our students to take full advantage of all the opportunities available to them and they can only do that if they are happy.” That seems an admirable ambition – and a change of philosophy for Gordonstoun. For all the talk of service, honour, compassion and self-sacrifice in Kurt Hahn’s teachings, the great educationalist and his disciples seem to have put less weight on the notion that, to learn and grow, children need to be happy. And safe.

Some of the names in this article have been changed

Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life – Deckle Edge, April 4, 2017
by Sally Bedell Smith

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The life and loves of Prince Charles are illuminated in a major new biography from the New York Times bestselling author of Elizabeth the Queen—perfect for fans of The Crown.

Sally Bedell Smith returns once again to the British royal family to give us a new look at Prince Charles, the oldest heir to the throne in more than three hundred years. This vivid, eye-opening biography—the product of four years of research and hundreds of interviews with palace officials, former girlfriends, spiritual gurus, and more, some speaking on the record for the first time—is the first authoritative treatment of Charles’s life that sheds light on the death of Diana, his marriage to Camilla, and his preparations to take the throne one day.

Prince Charles brings to life the real man, with all of his ambitions, insecurities, and convictions. It begins with his lonely childhood, in which he struggled to live up to his father’s expectations and sought companionship from the Queen Mother and his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten. It follows him through difficult years at school, his early love affairs, his intellectual quests, his entrepreneurial pursuits, and his intense search for spiritual meaning. It tells of the tragedy of his marriage to Diana; his eventual reunion with his true love, Camilla; and his relationships with William, Kate, Harry, and his grandchildren.

Ranging from his glamorous palaces to his country homes, from his globe-trotting travels to his local initiatives, Smith shows how Prince Charles possesses a fiercely independent spirit and yet has spent more than six decades waiting for his destined role, living a life dictated by protocols he often struggles to obey. With keen insight and the discovery of unexpected new details, Smith lays bare the contradictions of a man who is more complicated, tragic, and compelling than we knew, until now.

Praise for Prince Charles

“[Smith] understands the British upper classes and aristocracy (including the royals) very well indeed. . . . [She] makes many telling, shrewd points in pursuit of realigning the popular image of Prince Charles.”—William Boyd, The New York Times Book Review

“[A] masterly account.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Thoroughly researched and insightful . . . In this profile, it is clear [Smith] got inside the circular barriers that protect the man and his position. The Charles that emerges is, as the subtitle suggests, both a paradox and a creature of his passions.”—The Washington Times

“[A] compellingly juicy bio . . . Windsor-philes will be mesmerized.”—People

“Prince Charles paints an affectingly human portrait. . . . Smith writes about [Charles’s life] with a skill and sympathy she perfected in her 2012 biography of Charles’s mother.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“Comprehensive and admirably fair . . . Until his accession to the throne, Smith’s portrait will stand as the definitive study.”—Booklist (starred review)

“[A] fascinating book that is not just about a man who would be king, but also about the duties that come with privilege.”—Walter Isaacson

“Sally Bedell Smith has given us a complete and compelling portrait of the man in the shadow of the throne. It’s all here, from the back stairs of the palaces to the front pages of the tabs.”—Tom Brokaw

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