Prince Charles: seven things we have learnt from his biography

Charles: The Heart of a King reveals new details of his relationships with Jimmy Savile and Princess Diana

prince charles

Details about Prince Charles, one of the world's "least understood figures" have begun to emerge in a new unauthorised biography of the future king.

Charles: The Heart of a King, by Time magazine journalist Catherine Meyer comes out later this week and is currently being serialised in The Times. Here are seven things we have learned from it about Prince Charles and Clarence House:

Charles wanted to call off his wedding to Diana

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On the night before the wedding, Prince Charles reportedly told one of his aides: "I can't go through with it... I can't do it." Diana was "not the jolly country girl he had assumed" but instead a complex and vulnerable woman, who was suffering from mental health problems at the time.

He talks to dead people

When the Prince's mentor Earl Mountbatten died in an IRA bombing in 1979, it "made him want to die too", the Daily Telegraph reports. "Charles never quite relinquishes his grief," according to Meyers. "He fills his domains with little shrines and memorials; he goes into his gardens not to talk to the plants but to the deceased." By doing so, the future king hopes to keep the Queen Mother, Mountbatten "and a host of other departed spirits alive in his heart", she says.

His relationship with Jimmy Savile was closer than previously thought

The Prince and Jimmy Savile - now known to be a prolific child sex offender – became close in the 1970s after bonding over their charity work, a spokesperson told The Guardian in 2012. Meyers' biography provides further details of their relationship, including how the Prince asked Savile to read over and correct his speeches and relied on him as a personal confidant.

The Queen has concerns about Charles being king

When he assumes power, Charles is determined to "never be remote and silent like his mother", particularly on environmental activism and other issues close to his heart, says Meyers. "In defining his role as heir apparent, the Prince has signalled a redefinition of the monarchy. Some courtiers – and the sovereign herself – fear that neither the crown nor its subjects will tolerate the shock of the new," she writes.

Clarence House is like Wolf Hall

"The court of the heir to the throne crackles with tension," according to the biography. In a one extract, Meyer describes Clarence House as being torn apart by backstabbing, in-fighting and turf wars. "One former householder refers to Clarence House as Wolf Hall, in reference to the treacherous and opportunistic world depicted by Hilary Mantel in her fictionalised account of the rise of Thomas Cromwell under Henry VIII," Mayer writes.

A Clarence House spokesperson said: "This is not an official biography, therefore, we have no comment to make."

He is "insecure and indecisive"

Meyer describes how the future king's "native insecurity" often comes to light. "He doesn't always believe he's earned the praise that comes his way, while criticism has the power to cast him into despair," she writes. She alleges that the future king has to get at least three opinions on a subject before he is able to make decision.

He is frugal

The Prince's former private secretary Clive Alderton told Meyer: "When you are having tea with him, (he) gets any leftovers wrapped up and brought back for his next meal, and the next one. I've rarely met someone who is so frugal, not in the sense of meanness but an absolute allergy to waste, and in particular waste of food". Meyer's also recalls how the Prince once siphoned dirty bath water from his bath at St James’s Palace onto his garden below during one hot summer, the Daily Mail reports.

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