Tom Bower is the “master of the investigative hatchet job”, and in his latest book he takes his axe to the heir to the throne, said Bee Wilson in The Guardian. Rebel Prince offers a “sea of anecdotes” about Prince Charles’s “petulance and vanity”, many of which were reported before publication – such as the fact that he allegedly changes his clothes five times a day, travels with his own toilet seat and toilet paper, and “employs retired servicemen at Highgrove to hand-pick slugs from the plants at night”. Yet despite being “gripping”, the book is marred by a lack of empathy. It must be deeply “psychologically weird”, after all, to spend your entire adult life waiting to become king. Bower might have offered a few “crumbs of sympathy or understanding”, instead of relentlessly castigating his subject.
The Charles that emerges from this portrait is more “ruthless and venal” than is commonly realised, said Lynn Barber in The Sunday Times. He thinks little about casually sacking people after years of loyal service. He keeps himself, and his elaborate network of charities and projects, afloat through an unsavoury system of favour-giving that sees shady plutocrats handing over vast sums “in return for being allowed to ride in the fourth carriage after the Queen’s at Royal Ascot”. Thoroughly researched and brimming with gossip, Rebel Prince is a “sensational book”. I disagree, said Craig Brown in The Mail on Sunday. Bower is a “stranger to nuance and understatement”. His style is that of a thriller writer: instead of saying things, people “scream, growl, wail or shriek”. Bower treats each of Charles’s peccadilloes as a “hanging offence”, even though they are more absurd than anything. For all the noise that it has generated, Rebel Prince is basically a “slow trudge across well-trodden ground”.