LONDON — Prince Charles, who arrives in Los Angeles today for a five-day visit, believes the number of members of the Royal Family must be scaled down if the monarchy is to survive.
In the final excerpt of a new biography of the prince that appeared in the London Sunday Times, Charles says there are too many minor royals being supported by public funds and too many royal residences.
Charles' biographer, Jonathan Dimbleby, writes that the prince took part in a private debate at Buckingham Palace in which senior officials reviewed the Royal Family's objectives and how they would be achieved over the next decade.
Dimbleby writes that Charles asked, "Is it not part of the problem with the media that it is considered in the country at large that there are too many of the Royal Family and too much money being spent on them?
"Would it not be better to sit down and examine how many members of the family you actually need?"
A short time later, the public allowances for several royals were cut back, and Queen Elizabeth II agreed to pay taxes on her vast fortune for the first time.
According to Dimbleby, Charles is happier than he has been for years following his separation from Princess Diana--a break that now seems permanent.
Charles' staff and friends have "seen his sense of humor return, and with it a gaiety of spirit that for several years has too often been stifled by melancholy."
Appearing on television Sunday, Dimbleby said that Charles took a gamble in cooperating with the revealing biography.
"For many years his life was covered on the basis of innuendo, concoction, distortion and frequently downright lies, week after week after week," Dimbleby said.
"He could have kept silent about that forever. There are some pontificating commentators in the grander newspapers that believe he should have done.
"I think the decision he made was a gamble, obviously. But if he had stayed silent forever, he was not just being assassinated slowly by character description in these pages--he was actually being killed off by the tabloid papers."
Dimbleby professed to be "astonished" at the interpretation in some papers of the excerpts, insisting that at no point did he or Charles say that the prince was not in love with Diana when they married in 1981.
Dimbleby said Charles and Diana were trapped in "a very difficult marriage" but tried to make it work.