With the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton less then two months away, the mounting excitement over the first royal wedding of the century is beginning to take the world, and especially countries belonging to the British Commonwealth, by storm. Although Will and Kate seem to be keeping a low profile at the moment, heaps of British souvenir shops are starting to sell trinkets with their images on it by the truckload, and soon they will be the most talked about public figures for months to come. Not surprising, a number of books outlining the lives and the relationship of Will and Kate have arrived on the market. With nearly a dozen books to choose from, it was Christopher Andersen’s William and Kate: A Royal Love Story that found its way into my hands. A former editor of both Time and People, Christopher Andersen is the author of thirty books on political and public figures, including two best selling books on Princess Diana, The Day Diana Died and After Diana. There is no denying that Andersen has a near photographic memory for the facts and coming and going of the royal family, and with William and Kate being released only weeks after their engagement, it is clear in the opening chapters that Andersen was also privy to inside information. Andersen’s resources seem to be endless, allowing him to write an impressively thorough account of Will and Kate’s life long journey both serpeatly and together. However, Andersen’s book often becomes uneven in his attempts to show various sides of the players in the royal family, and in his attempts to be both liberal and honest at the same time, his character study on the future heir to the throne and his beautiful bride become tainted with biases.
Christopher Andersen attempts to take us into the world of Prince William from his much anticipated birth to his upcoming wedding by piecing together reports from various news sources, as well as the testimonies of individuals that have come into contact with William, so that we can have a far better understanding of the man who will eventually become the King of England. Although we’ve watched William grow up before our eyes, for the most part Andersen creates a fairly linear outline of William’s life. However, it is unclear if Andersen actually likes his subject matter at all. He paints a picture of the heir to the throne as a hedonistic drunk with the emotional maturity of a sixteen year old. Andersen takes us through three hundred pages of luxurious trips, dangerous women, temper tantrums, mood swings, bad behavior and bar tabs that could pay my rent for a year. Although he doesn’t seem to be critical of William in his dialogue, the picture he paints is rarely a flattering one. However, he also shows William to be a highly intelligent young man that shares his mother’s compassionate nature with an extreme understanding of his role in the British Empire and a certain flare for protocol who seems far more in touch with the British people then his elders. Despite his poor treatment of the Prince himself, it is through these character traits that Andersen somehow manages to convince the reader that William will someday make a vibrant King, and that the future of the popularity of the British monarchy rests on his shoulders.
The problem that Andersen has with William seems to be a theme throughout the entire book when he deals with the Royal Family. In an attempt to show different sides to the various family members, instead he makes them come off as being virtual schizophrenics. Is Prince Charles an expert at diplomacy or a philandering pervert? Was Diana a saint or a mentally disturbed psychopath? Is Prince Harry William’s highly spirited confident and best friend, or Prince Charles’ neglected bastard wild child? Is Camilla a bulldog or just misunderstood? Is the Queen a caring and fair ruler, or a stodgy and out of touch old lady? Andersen tries to be liberal by showing two sides to them all, but in the end his tendency to instill the negative into the mind of the reader leaves the British Monarchy bearing a giant black stain on their world. It seems that this is not Andersen’s intent, but that his attempts to show various faces of the family via a wide range of contacts and resources has him creating a highly baised and two dementional primarily negative portriat of the Royal Family.
But there is only one person in this story that comes off glowing like an untainted angel. If Kate Middleton ever needs a press agent in the future, Christopher Andersen is her man. In fact, Andersen seems to be so infatuated with Kate that one would suspect that he harbors a secret crush on the future Queen of England. According to Andersen, Kate Middleton can do little wrong. Kate goes beyond being a genius but proves to be clever with the way she deals with the press, the paparazzi, the Royal Family and William himself. With a trick card up every sleeve, Kate is charming, strong, beautiful, cunning and looks good while doing everything she does. It is in his telling of Kate’s story that the true value of Andersen’s book comes out. Due to the low key and secretive nature of Kate and William’s relationship, the whole world knows who Kate Middleton is, but barely knows anything about her. Andersen outlines her story and paints a compassionate and endearing character study of Kate, allowing the reader to embrace the newest addition to the Royal Family.
But, once again, Andersen’s attempt at showing both sides of their relationship creates further tainted questions for the future of William and Kate. Andersen paints Kate as the long suffering victim of William’s wishy washy drunken head games, as well as getting the short end of the stick in matters of Royal protocol, while painting her as the stable force in William’s life that holds him together and prevents him from going off the deep end. According to Andersen, William simply looks better standing next to Kate whom everyone seems to love – Charles loves her, Harry loves her, The Queen loves her….but does William? Throughout the book questions are formed in William’s actual devotion to Kate, especially concerning William’s “other” girlfriend Jecca Craig, whom Andersen seems to be attempting to set a future William/Kate/Jecca triangle up much in the fashion of Charles/Diana/Camilla. One can only hope that William takes a look at the mistakes of his parents and does what Charles ought to have done in the first place – marry the woman you really love and save yourself all the public turmoil and embarrassment by entering an unhealthy and loveless union. For the sake of William, Kate and the British monarchy, those two kids better truly love each other.
Although rich in facts, Andersen’s book often becomes a daunting read, weighed down by unimportant information as Andersen outlines a nearly month by month report of William and Kate’s comings and goings for the last ten years. For some royal watchers this information will be fascinating to read, but for the casual reader the details seem to stay the same but with a different location each time. As the details of an exuberant world that even the most cultured reader can barely relate to, including stolen kisses on ski slopes, luxurious trips to exotic locals and nights of clubbing, one begins to wonder just how much of this information is really historically important?
Yet, for anyone wanting a truly accurate insight to William and Kate’s world, there is little doubt that William and Kate: A Royal Love Story could be one of the better books on the market. Although he may be faulty in his delivery at times, Andersen certainly knows his facts and his attention to detail is intense. Although it might not be the best, this book is surely not going to be the fluffy “love fest” type books that will flood the market, and instead could possibly be the most thorough, the most honest and the meatiest book on the couple.
To order your own copy of William and Kate: A Royal Love Story by Christopher Andersen click here.
POP CULTURE ADDICT NOTE: I’d like to thank Anneliese Grosfeld of Simon and Schuster Canada for sending me William and Kate: A Royal Love Story and other interesting books that will be featured in the weeks to come as part of the “PCA Book Club”