Tuesday, May 24, 2022


Sally Bedell Smith. PRINCE CHARLES: The PASSIONS and PARADOXES of an IMPROBABLE LIFE. Random 2017.

My Victoria Day weekend project, 507 pages on the life of a complicated man about whom I have always been interested because I was born 32 days after he was. I refused to accept this book until I was assured that it is not another trash piece. I was pleasantly surprised by the biographer's clear-eyed grasp of the mental health issues behind the failure of Diana to emerge as a suitable supportive princess wife. I like how Smith portrays the positives in Camilla's character and the importance of her as a source of love in an otherwise barren-seeming landscape of castles and duchies. Smith seems not to appreciate Prince Philip's role in setting the family tone, nor the Queen's dilemma in feeling that her duty to the monarchy had to be put before her parental responsibilities. Smith also seems to have no concept of Canada or of Elizabeth as our Queen. Nor does she seem to recognize how most of Charles' unfashionable passions (with the possible exception of homeopathy) have come full circle are are now dominating geopolitics. Most notably, environmentalism and climate change, but also the importance of spirituality in developing a love and respect for nature, and all other forms of life. And for the importance of the lived built environment, buildings and cities, to be human and community-centric.  

It also strikes me that all the things we hate about on-line culture--personal attacks, lack of focus on issues, hiding behind anonymity, using rumour and scandal-mongering as click-bait, presentation of opinion as if it is fact--are all part of the tabloid press so destructive in Britain and America. 

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