THE PRINCE of Wales yesterday gave his blessing to the biography by Jonathan Dimbleby which says he was forced into a loveless marriage with the Princess of Wales, and made it clear he had no regrets about co-operating over the book.
As the controversy about the book's revelations and the debate about the Prince's wisdom in going along with them intensified, both Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace gave the biography an unprecedently warm welcome. But spokesmen stressed that Mr Dimbleby had come to his own interpretations from the material provided by the Prince, extracts of which were published in the Sunday Times yesterday. The newspaper cut its price to 50p and held back early editions to foil rivals.
Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, who will accompany the Queen on her first visit to Russia today, said: 'I am worried about the way in which chattering people concerned with headlines and mass circulation do chip away at our institutions . . . of which the monarchy is the most important and the most vulnerable.'
The book reveals that the Prince felt pressured by the Duke of Edinburgh to marry the former Lady Diana Spencer and that he was never in love with her.
The Duke gave him an ultimatum to propose or end the relationship so she would not be compromised.
The Prince's lonely upbringing, with the Queen a distant mother and the Duke an overbearing father, are chronicled in the book. The heir to the throne was mercilessly bullied at Gordonstoun, his public school. A St James's Palace spokesman described the book as an 'authorised account' produced with the Prince's co-operation and added: 'I am sure he does not regret his co-operation over the book. It is a balanced and thoroughly researched appraisal of the Prince of Wales's development as an individual and the way he has developed his role.'
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said it was 'substantially factually accurate' but Mr Dimbleby's interpretations were his own. Officials were allowed to suggest alterations before publication. 'In some instances Mr Dimbleby was persuaded and in others he wasn't' However, the book is believed to have led to a fierce debate between Palace officials who were against the project and the Prince's supporters who believe greater openness the key to the monarchy's survival.
The former MP Lord St John of Fawsley said: 'He is in fact saying to the press 'this is the truth of the matter', instead of adopting the conventional attitude of the Royal Family which is to hide behind reticence and secrecy.'
Prince in turmoil, page 3 David Starkey, page 17
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies