Prince Charles: meddler or manipulator?
As Prince Charles prepares for his official visit to Ireland later this month, we take a look at his image transformation from handsome young prince to errant husband and now media manipulator
In the various official portraits of Prince Charles w ith little Prince George, he looks every inch the doting grandfather; fond, relaxed, proud. No doubt a stream of similar pictures will shortly appear of Charles with his new granddaughter, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. It's a role that suits him, playing to the kindly, familial side of a man who has had more media manifestations than any other Royal, and not all of them benign.
In the days of his youth and bachelorhood, the public tried hard to cast Charles, heir to the throne, as the dashing young prince. His sporting activities - polo, hunting, parachuting - helped, as did the various photos of him stripped to the waist, looking toned and buff despite his leanness, and, of course, the stream of exciting girls he dated, including Sabrina Guinness, Lady Davina Sheffield, documentary-maker Cindy Buxton and actress Susan George. When he married Diana, he seemed steady, romantic, protective, a man poised to step confidently into adult life, as a husband, a father, a king. But the years were not kind to Charles; too much waiting, too long in a state of suspended animation, ready to rule but without the opportunity.
From protective, loving companion to Diana, he was gradually recast as cold, indifferent, even cruel. A man who brought a third person into his marriage. For the years of the growing estrangement with Diana, followed by their divorce, Charles became almost a pantomime villain, accompanied by faint boos and hisses, as one part of the public refused to forgive him for Diana's unhappiness.