She’s a controversial figure in the eyes of many Britons, but I’ve come to admire Penny Junor‘s work on the House of Windsor.
When I interviewed Junor back in 2012, I was impressed by her objective, in-depth approach to writing Prince William: The Man Who Will Be King.
“14 years ago I wrote a book that caused a great deal of anger, called Charles: Victim or Villain,” Junor told me at the time. “And I think that the reason people are angry with me is because they remember me from last time and they think that I am a Diana basher who just loves Charles and has not a good word to say for [the late Princess of Wales]. I was very surprised by the strength of the hostility towards me.”
Junor release her latest book, Prince Harry: Brother, Soldier, Son (Hodder & Stoughton, Grand Central Publishing 2014) ahead of the Prince’s 30th birthday on September 15th, offering insight into the life of England’s onetime “spare.” I was intrigued, but not surprised by her choice. Harry was a bit more wild than his older brother, and certainly had his fair share of run-ins with the media. What I remember most about our last conversation is how confident Junor is in herself and her work. It is very rare to find people like this, especially when writing about such a sensitive and well-regarded topic. That’s why someone with this type of work ethic and dedication to their work will always find a way to publish every book they write. Why wouldn’t they? To get the best deal possible, she may make a comparison between self publishing vs traditional publishing in order to make sure that her book is being released in the way in which it was intended, so people can enjoy this book in all its glory. As an author, you need to have this type of elegance and confidence, and Junor portrays just this. Why? Because she’s being doing it for a long time.
“I built a good relationship with Buckingham Palace thirty years ago. They’re not the only subject I write on, but I have come back to the royals over the years,” she told me back in 2012. “I would like to think that I’ve worked quite well with the palace. I don’t think I’ve ever upset them, I don’t think I’ve upset my contacts. I’ve taken very great care of them and that’s kind of important, because you never know when you’re going to need somebody.”
Parts of Harry have been serialized in the Daily Mail, so I thought it would be a bit more fun to ask questions I wanted answer. Just like last time, Junor did not disappoint.
The Duchess Diary: What is Harry’s relationship with Kate? Is it as warm as it seems to the public?
Penny Junor: “Yes, I think it is every bit as warm. He makes her laugh.”
TDD: What has writing this book taught you about Harry?
PJ: “Mostly, that he has suffered from a very negative press over the years who made him out to be lightweight and irresponsible. He is a far more interesting character than the tabloids would have us believe. He is not academic but he is brilliant in many other ways – and hugely empathetic.”
TDD: People have a misconception of Prince Charles as being a “cold” father and credit Diana with raising the boys to be wonderful men. While the Diana part is certainly true, my belief is that people often overlook the fact that he was not only present during their upbringing, but was a rock for William and Harry when news broke that Diana had passed. Do you agree with this notion?
PJ: “I do agree. Charles was far from cold. He adores his sons and has been a very loving father – there is a lot of teasing and a lot of laughter. He has not always there as much as he might have been because he has always had a punishing work schedule – but he made sure the boys were well looked after in his absence. And the fact that both boys have turned out so well is down to having had two loving parents and some ace people who gave additional security and continuity.”
TDD: I don’t believe the Harry-James Hewitt connection, but I sometimes have trouble convincing others that there is no way he could be James’ son. Aside from the part in your book about the DNA test that ‘News of the World’ conducted, what say you on the matter?
PJ: “Diana didn’t begin her affair with Hewitt until Harry was two years old. Hewitt has said that himself and so have people who were around Diana at the time. Besides, just look at Harry. He has the same eyes and the same shaped face as Charles and Prince Philip. Hewitt looks completely different.”
What was the most shocking revelation while researching and writing this book?
PJ: “I was shocked by how much loss Harry has had to bear in his short life.”
Who is your next subject?
PJ: “Can’t say just yet.”
Who would you say is your favorite royal?
“PJ: That is like being asked which of my children I like best!”