William and Harry by Katie Nicholl

February 2, 2011

Summary (from the publisher): William and Harry is a fascinating insight into the lives and loves of two extraordinary young men who have captured the hearts and minds of not only the British public, but those the world over. This is the definitive book about the princes, bringing their story right up to date. It is the tale of two brothers who have carried the legacy of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, into the twenty-first century and on whom the future of the House of Windsor largely depends.

Drawing on her unique set of contacts Katie Nicholl recounts the royal brothers’ extraordinary lives and reveals William and Harry’s real characters as they become front-line soldiers and modern princes. Through her network of sources, some of which have agreed to speak for the very first time, Katie tells the story of one of Prince William’s earliest romances, and his struggle with his destiny as a future King of England.

As a royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton seems more probable, Katie has spoken to a wealth of contacts close to the couple who reveal how their love affair really started at St Andrews, the hurdles the pair overcame and the challenges they still face. She recounts the story of Harry’s time at Eton, his relationship with Chelsy Davy, and his three months he spent on the front line in Afghanistan. She analyzes William and Harry’s complex relationship with their father, and the woman who will one day become Queen Camilla. She talks to their friends, contemporaries and confidants to paint a unique and revealing portrait of the two most famous brothers in the world.

Liked:

  • I thought this read like a pretty balanced account of both princes. Author Katie Nicholl talked about the good (charitable work, desire to serve on the front lines in war) and the bad (drinking, drinking, and more drinking) things that William and Harry have been known for. It was neither a smear piece nor a puff piece, but fell somewhere in the middle.
  • I liked getting a glimpse at what William and Harry’s early school days at Eton were like. The press had agreed to leave them alone for the most part, so I don’t recall much being written about them back then. It was good to be able to fill in the blanks a bit.
  • There was just the right amount of Di/Charles/Camilla/the Queen in this book. Obviously all those people play a significant role in the princes’ lives, so I was worried that the author might spend too much time writing about them and too little time on the princes themselves. But that didn’t happen. Again, the word I need to use here is “balance.”
  • All the speculation about a William-Kate wedding have turned out to be true. As I write this, planning for the April event is well under way, Kate trying on a million wedding dresses, royal aides finalizing the routes to and from Westminster Abbey, and thousands of unofficial souvenir items being produced for the big day.

Disliked:

  • The stuff about the on-again, off-again relationships with Kate Middleton and Chelsy Davy got to be tedious and extremely repetitive after a while. I never found the princes’ love lives to be fascinating in the first place, so reading about all the fights, break-ups, make-ups, cheating, etc. was very dull.
  • Ditto all the drinking escapades. I’m not a royal follower at all, and never read anything more than headlines when it comes to the royal family, but even I already knew about many of the drinking binges Nicholl talked about. I didn’t think it was necessary to recount quite so many of them. Readers already know that the boys like to party, so it would have been better to spend those pages on something else.
  • There was a distinct lack of insightful commentary along the way. Nicholl pretty much just laid these stories and anecdotes out there, drew a few obvious conclusions, and left it at that. I wish she had used some of her “insider” status to shed some real light on why certain things may have been happening.

Rating:

I thought William and Harry by Katie Nicholl was a decent book that takes a peek at what life is like for two of the most prominent princes in the world. If you already follow the royal family quite a bit, then this book probably doesn’t hold any new information for you. If you just barely know anything beyond the headlines, then you might come away with a few new nuggets or factoids that you weren’t aware of before. I give this one 3 stars out of 5.

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