A biography of Prince William provides new insight into his royal upbringing, including his relationships with the important women in his life and his parents' marital history. And of course, the wedding of the century.
Prince William: The Man Who Will Be King, published by Pegasus Books and currently out in stores, was penned by British journalist Penny Junor. The book was published in the UK last month as Prince William: Born to Be King.
The British royal family has long been one of Junor's preferred subjects. Her other books include The Firm: The Troubled Life of the House of Windsor and Charles: Victim or Villain? -- a rather forgiving account of the Prince of Wales. Some have accused Junor of wanting a more personal relationship with Prince Charles, but she recently denied they were friends in an interview with the Independent.
Her latest book is, ultimately, a sympathetic portrayal of the Duke of Cambridge and his family. It's laced with melodrama, but then, this is the royal family we are talking about. The book begins with some background into his parents' life, arguing that it helps in understanding what has shaped the Duke of Cambridge into the man he is today. But some have been offended by the author's portrayal of the late Princess Diana, especially when it comes to her alleged mental state.
Junor is sticking to her story. I have been called vile, villainous and evil for criticising Diana, but what the public saw of her was very different to what her family saw, she told the Daily Mail. She was unstable and difficult to live with. Even her brother acknowledged her problems at her memorial service.
Like them or not, here are 10 highlights from Junor's biography of the Duke of Cambridge (still popularly referred to as Prince William):
A mother's insecurity
Junor alleges that William's late mother was jealous of his nanny, Barbara Barnes, as she was insecure that her son would love someone else more than he loved her. So she had Barnes removed when her son was 4 years old. She didn't consider what removing Barbara would do to William; here, she thought with the selfishness of a child, Junor wrote. She wanted a hundred percent of his affection, just as she wanted a hundred percent of her husband's. She had lost the latter battle, but she could fix the former. Barnes would eventually be incorporated back into his life -- she was even invited to the wedding -- but Junor writes that the sudden cutoff from his beloved nanny contributed to an introverted nature.
The Panorama interview
Junor reports that Diana was twice urged to visit William by his Eton house master, Andrew Gailey, while he was at that school to explain the famous Panorama interview (in which she talked about many personal problems, including infidelity in her marriage) to him before it aired. She didn't want to at first. She agreed reluctantly, but the meeting lasted no longer than five minutes, Junor wrote. She told William that the program would contain nothing controversial and that he would be proud of her. Before he had a chance to ask any embarrassing questions she left. He watched it in Andrew Gailey's study and was deeply upset, as any child, watching one parent assassinate the integrity of the other, let alone talk about their infidelity, would be.
Parent-child role reversal?
Junor writes that William was more aware of his mother's mood swings than his younger brother and that he almost took on a parenting role with her: The reality was Diana was not always as warm and demonstrative in private as she was in public -- and she wasn't the only one who handed out the laughter and the hugs, Junor wrote, adding that her sons were afraid of their mother's extreme moods. When a friend once suggested it was unwise to have hysterics in front of Prince William, who was then in a cot, Diana said he was too young to notice, and anyway, he would 'have to learn the truth sooner or later.'
Prince Harry is not the illegitimate son of James Hewitt
Prince Harry's paternity is a favorite subject of speculation for royal watchers. Some believe he is really the son of his late mother's former lover, James Hewitt, as they both have red hair, but Junor, like so many have before her, insists that Hewitt and Diana did not meet until the younger prince was 2 years old: Dates aside, Harry has the Spencer family colouring and his father's and grandfather's green eyes.
His future wife stood out, but not in the way you might expect
Junor reports that when William was having a hard time adjusting to university life and thinking about leaving St. Andrews, his future wife was one of the people to whom he listened. Kate had been one of the least pushy of the girls he met in that first year, Junor wrote. She had a quiet, confident presence and was friendly and laughed easily.
Kate was a shoulder to cry on
The young woman who eventually became Prince William's wife comforted him while the two were still in university after a friend of his and Harry's died in a car accident. Where most of his male friends would hide in safe subjects like sport after a perfunctory acknowledgement when anything heavy was in the air, she was prepared to engage in conversations about feelings and delicately probe and allow him to unburden his soul a little, Junor wrote.
William's fidelity concerns
His 2007 breakup with Kate Middleton wasn't the only one they had over their eight-year courtship, according to Junor. There were other times when the relationship cooled. Junor writes that he was somewhat commitment-shy: William had very real worries about whether it was possible to love just one woman. His childhood experiences remain close to the surface, and he was, understandably, cautious about making a mistake or committing to a relationship he couldn't sustain for the rest of his life.
Grandma knows best
The prince didn't like the list of 777 suggested invitees for his wedding, so he turned to his grandmother, the Queen, who told him to disregard that list and create his own, one that started with his friends. There's this assumption that the Queen is a real stickler for protocol and formality, but not at all, an anonymous source told Junor. He's learned from her that you take the best of tradition and when you do it, you do it beautifully and well, but you start with what you want out of the event, because only then will it have any integrity, and feel like an event that the principals want to be at.
Welcoming his stepmother
William and Harry included their father's main squeeze when planning a surprise party for his 50th birthday. They even sat the couple together. The Prince was moved to tears by his children's thoughtfulness, but what touched him most was their seating plan, Junor wrote.
He's keeping an eye on the media
While he understands that the media is helpful in keeping the monarchy relevant, he wants to have as much control over coverage as possible. He still hates the paparazzi, but he reads everything and remembers who writes what about him (unlike his father who gave up reading anything but The Times years ago because they made him so cross), Junor wrote, adding that the prince is extremely wary but utterly determined to remain in control.