Prince’s biographer

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Penny Junor, St John’s Chapel, Chichester, Tuesday, July 10, 6pm.

Penny Junor’s new biography Prince William: Born To Be King was enthusiastically received.

“And I am delighted,” she says, “not just for my sake, but for his sake.

“I think everybody has an idea what Prince Harry is about, but people don’t actually think they know very much about Prince William. And that’s his choice.

“I think he is protecting himself. He saw what happened to his parents and he wants to keep himself private. The downside to keeping yourself private, though, is that people don’t really know what you are like. But I think this is pretty deliberate on his part.

“He is modelling himself on the Queen who has very carefully managed still to be a bit of an enigma even after 60 years. That’s what William wants. People are undivided in their views of the Queen, whereas Charles and Diana tended to divide people. William is keen very deliberately to remain an enigma. He is doing exactly what the Queen has done. He is pleasant, very smiley, a very friendly face, but he is keeping his private life private.”

Which is no small achievement.

“When the Queen started out in 1952, it was much easier to be private. Now we live in a much more translucent society, but I also think it is a very brave decision to take. The point is that the monarchy has got to be popular; it has got to appeal to the broadest people possible. It has got to be long term. Most celebrities have a very short shelf-life. But William recognises that he can’t afford to have a short shelf-life. He is in the public eye for the rest of his life, and he can’t afford to lose popularity.”

Which means that he simply can’t afford to divide people in the way his parents did. As Penny says there are plenty of people who even now idolise Diana or hate her, just as there are with Charles. For the sake of the monarchy, just as his grandmother has done, Penny argues, William has got to unite.