There has been a great deal of focus on the monarchy over the past couple of years, and as time goes on more and more attention is being paid to Prince William.
Last year, in a ceremony broadcast around the world, he married his longterm girlfriend Kate Middleton. This was more than a wedding, but a signal to the world that he had grown up.
Penny Junor has a long history of writing about the Royal Family, her most recent work Prince William, Born to be King, takes a look at the man, his family, and everything that made him into the man he is today.
Recently Penny Junor took the time from her schedule to answer a few questions for the Indigo Non-Fiction Blog.
Indigo Non-Fiction Blog (INFB): The events of the past couple of years have caused the UK to be in news worldwide – the Royal Wedding, and The Queen’s Jubilee are the first two that spring to mind. With the Prince William biography were these events a catalyst for your decision to write the book, or was it something that you had already planned on writing and it was just right time?
Penny Junor (PJ): No. I started to work on this book in May 2010, six months before William announced his engagement. I had been asked to write his biography many times over the years by different publishers and had always said no because I thought he was too young. However, his 30th birthday was approaching in June 2012, and I thought that at 30, he would be well formed as a character and that the time would be right. His wedding and the interest that it excited was a bonus, as was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
INFB: Your specialty in biographies seems to be the Royal Family, but this was never an actual intention of yours. Why and how did that change?
PJ: You’re right. I had no particular interest in the Royal Family but shortly after Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981, I was asked by a publisher if I would like to write a biography of Diana. I was a freelance journalist at the time and had done an interview with this publisher about her experience of being bitten by a rabid dog in Kathmandu while on her gap year. I can only think she liked the way I‘d written it. To be asked to write a biography was all my dreams come true; the fact that it was a member of the Royal Family was coincidental. That book was very successful. A few years later, having written about Margaret Thatcher and Richard Burton in the interim, I was asked to write an in-depth profile of the Prince of Wales for a newspaper. Buckingham Palace was very helpful in finding people for me to speak to about him and I found him so interesting in the light of what I was hearing, that I decided to write a biography. I was thereafter perceived as something of an expert on them both and although I wrote about other people (and presented TV programmes for many years alongside the writing) I was still asked to comment on them repeatedly – and write books about them. And so I have.
INFB: There has been a fair amount of controversy regarding the book, specifically about your depiction of Diana. Were you expecting public response to be the way it is?
PJ: I was certainly not expecting the public response to be so hostile. There was huge controversy over a book I wrote 14 years ago called Charles, Victim or Villain? In which I said all the same things I have said in this book about Charles and Diana’s marriage. When that book came out, it was only sixteen months since Diana’s death and feelings were evidently still very raw. Some people were not ready to hear that Diana was anything other than a saint. I thought public opinion had moved on since then and that there was a more realistic view of her. I was obviously wrong. Some people cannot accept that she was human with human failings like the rest of us.
INFB: There is a very definite strength to Prince William that has been displayed from an early age. When you consider his relationship with Prince Harry, at times going beyond the big brother role, how much of what William has become over the years can be credited to that relationship?
PJ: It would be impossible to overestimate the importance of Harry in William’s life and in William being the man he is today. They came through an extraordinary, bizarre, and at times, painful childhood and were there for each other – the only one the other could fully trust. Very different in character, but complementary; they will be a formidable partnership in the future.
INFB: After going through your recent book, and reading about what William has gone through and how well he has turned out, there is no doubt that he will be an excellent king, but I’ve heard the question floated around periodically regarding who should be the next to sit on the throne. What is the likelihood of Charles abdicating in favour of William? And to further that do you think he’s ready?
PJ: I think there is no likelihood of Charles abdicating in favour of William. Provided Charles is physically and mentally fit when the Queen dies, he will be the next King. If he is unfit, William would almost certainly become Prince Regent. He will not be King until his father dies. That is the way hereditary monarchy works. William still has a lot to learn about the job, but if both the Queen and Prince Charles were to be run over by the proverbial bus tomorrow, I think William would be more than capable of becoming monarch.
The Indigo Non-Fiction Blog would like to thank Penny Junor for taking the time out of her schedule to chat with us, and Donna Nopper from Hachette Canada for facilitating this interview.