Until the then Princess of Wales chose him to be her mouthpiece for her dirt package in book form in 1992, Andrew Morton was a fairly unknown member of the group of British royal journalists. Diana: Her True Story made his fortune and his name and thus it is perhaps no surprise that he finds it hard to let that story go.
Hardly had the streets of London been cleaned and the bunting taken down following the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton before Michael O’Mara Books Limited published Morton’s William & Catherine: Their Lives, Their Wedding.
This richly illustrated book takes the reader through the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – their backgrounds, childhoods and upbringings, their time at St Andrews, their courtship and the wedding on 29 April itself.
Morton makes some insightful analyses of Prince William’s character, but like so many others he seems to have struggled mostly in vain to find out much about what Kate is really like. Thus the narrative appears rather drawn-out and tedious when he recounts the years between leaving St Andrews and getting engaged as one long list of social events attended.
Morton’s attempts at finding common denominators between Catherine and her predecessors seem rather desperate when he twice points out that the Duchess’s wedding dress resembled that of the Queen Mother and interprets this as Catherine sending out a message “that she would support her husband through thick and thin” just like the Queen Mother. Just a glance at a photo from the 1923 wedding will suffice to tell that there were no similarities whatsoever between the wedding dresses worn by Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and Catherine Middleton.
The link to Queen Elizabeth II is that we are repeatedly told that she like Kate Middleton was in Kenya when she “learned that she was to become Queen”. No, Elizabeth was in Kenya when she learned that she had become Queen.
Diana, Princess of Wales is everywhere in this book. There are photos placed next to each other of Diana and Kate both wearing a blue dress, a photo of Diana and Kate both wearing a red dress and so on. What should have been the story of Prince William’s childhood and upbringing is in reality an account of the life and death of his mother, and – unsurprisingly – a rather partisan one, complete with the negative portrayal of Prince Charles which Morton and his colleagues in the Diana camp could have written in their sleep fifteen or twenty years ago.
About the announcement of Prince William’s and Catherine Middleton’s engagement on 16 November 2010, Morton concludes: “To adapt Diana’s famous phrase from her Panorama interview: there were three of them at this engagement interview, so it was a bit crowded”. Rather, there are three of them in this book. For Andrew Morton it is time to move on.