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Prince Charles' household likened to Wolf Hall, biographer claims

Prince Charles at Clarence House on November 20, 2014 Image copyright Getty Images

Clarence House's internal rivalries have led to a former staffer calling the Prince of Wales's base "Wolf Hall", says a new biography of the prince.

The Times reports that the book documents "common and bloody" turf wars between Prince Charles' staff.

Author Catherine Mayer claims in Charles: Heart of a King that in-fighting thwarted a deal to streamline his charity operations.

Clarence House told the BBC the biography was not authorised.

"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," Ms Mayer writes in her book, according to the paper which is serialising it.

Ms Mayer's account says that his staff call him "the Boss" but the Queen's eldest son identifies with the hapless Blackadder character Baldrick.

She writes about the future king's "native insecurity", and states: "He doesn't always believe he's earned the praise that comes his way, while criticism has the power to cast him into despair."

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Damian Lewis as Henry VIII in the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel's novel about the people vying for positions in his court

She also claims that the Prince often changes his aides' job descriptions, leading to some feeling "threatened as colleagues are instructed to undertake work on turf they consider their own".

'Anxiety'

She writes of Charles: "Apart from his time in the Navy, he has never held a paying job and doesn't understand the anxiety such moves can create.

"No student of management theory, he believes rivalries promote better performance, rather than recognising the glitches and strains which territorial disputes can cause."


Analysis: BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt

Image copyright PA
Image caption Prince Charles's reign will be different from his mother's

To write this biography, Catherine Mayer had access to Prince Charles, his friends, his staff and his critics.

The published extract is authoritative, balanced and, in parts, far from flattering.

Those around the future king - who invited the author in - cannot now complain as she holds a mirror up to his court.

The book's greatest value will probably be the light it sheds on how Charles intends to behave once destiny calls.

The serialisation suggests the Queen's eldest son wants to continue the work he does now - which includes a focus on the environment and architecture - as well as taking on the role of head of state.

Some in royal circles believe the two are not compatible.

We know the prince's reign will be different from his mother's. This biography may help us understand just how different it will be.

Read more from Peter Hunt


The reputed organisational problems led to the collapse of a plan to make the Prince's charity operations more efficient, according to Ms Mayer.

Several thousand pounds was allegedly spent on drawing up plans for housing 15 of his charities in the same building, in order to concentrate resources and make a bigger impact.

Ms Mayer writes: "Sources say internal conflicts scuppered the scheme after it was already significantly advanced, wasting money instead of saving it."

Clarence House pointed out that the biography, contrary to some reports, was not authorised and the author did not have any exclusive access to the prince or his staff.

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