'All my life people have told me what to do. I'm tired of it'

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It is an irony that won't be lost on the Prince of Wales. He told the BBC journalist Gavin Hewitt that his private life had become an "industry" in an off-the-record chat.

It is an irony that won't be lost on the Prince of Wales. He told the BBC journalist Gavin Hewitt that his private life had become an "industry" in an off-the-record chat.

Today, Mr Hewitt is the latest to cash in using his hitherto unreported interview to paint an unflattering portrait of the heir's enduring bitterness and self-pity.

In an extract from a forthcoming book serialised in The Mail on Sunday, the BBC journalist records how he was rushed to secret meeting with the Prince in Bulgaria seven years ago.

The private conversation was supposed to provide background for a Panorama programme to coincide with his 50th birthday.

Reluctant at first to talk about his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, the Prince eventually snaps when asked how he would like it defined. "I don't see any reason why I should define my private life," Mr Hewitt recalls the Prince saying.

Challenged that it was a matter of public interest, he is said to have replied: "Even royals are entitled to some privacy." He continued: "All my life people have been telling me what to do. I'm tired of it.

"I thought that the British people were supposed to be compassionate. I don't see much of it. My private life has become an industry. People are making money out of it."

Hewitt says that Prince Charles said he was being "tortured" over his relationship before concluding: "I just want some peace."

The BBC journalist also claims that the Prince mocked the slimmed-down Scandinavian-style monarchy. "Those who advocate it, have they seen it? Most of those countries have a population of two million. We're a population of 60 million."

He said he had no intention of moving out of Buckingham Palace if he became King. "That's what people come to see." Institutions like the State Opening of Parliament were also defended. "It's what makes us uniquely British. It's what people come to Britain for. It's what makes us unique."

Hewitt also records the well-known anger of the Royal Family at the scrapping of the royal yacht Britannia saying that the Prince thought it a dreadful decision. "It's the Treasury. They can't see beyond a balance sheet."

The Prince is said to have noted that at the same time the Spanish were spending £12m on a craft for their royal family.

However, Prince Charles is said to believe that the monarchy could change and hinted that his reign would be less formal."After all, it's defined by the people involved. I'm forever breaking protocol."

Although nearly seven years old, Hewitt's broken confidences were seized upon by critics of the Royal Family as further evidence of the heir's self-pity. They will be unlikely to help the Prince turn round public opinion that has hardened against him in the wake of the series of bungles over his wedding plans.

A poll for yesterday's Daily Telegraph found that just 31 per cent of his putative subjects now want Charles for their king, although 62 per cent approved of his decision to marry Mrs Parker Bowles.

A spokesman for Clarence House said: "We never comment on private conversations that the Prince may or may not have had."