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A chance to read someone elses diary is always an interesting propostion and when I saw the title of this book, `The Palace Diaries`, a joint effort written by Sarah Goodall and Nicholas Monson I became quite excited at the prospect of reading some royal juicy snippets that had maybe been omitted by other authors.
The hardback copy of The Palace Diaries has 318 pages, it was published by Mainstream and it cost £12.99.
In 1988 Sarah Goodall landed a job at St James Palace, granted the post was only a lowly one but there is always a certain amount of kudos that is attached to any job that involves working with royalty. As the months go by Sarah proves her worth and she is offered the post of a Lady Clerk which she accepts, from then on her story unfolds.
Sarah portrays herself as an ordinary working girl from a normal background but throughout the course of the story it is quite noticeable that she is often bailed out by her parents and the sums of money involved are quite substantial.
As Sarah settles into her new post of Lady Clerk at St James's Palace you will hear her mention many familiar names that have all appeared in other royal stories. Sarah refers to Prince Charles and Lady Diana as `The Boss and Bossette` and while Sarah appears to be somewhat infatuated with Prince Charles she seems less than enamoured with Lady Diana.
The book is easy to read, the layout is simple and the wording is uncomplicated. The first few chapters can be enjoyed but after that there are little if any new revelations, Sarah seems to be telling us all what we already knew.
What we already know could be very entertaining if it was told in a clever way but the storyline becomes rather `twee` and some times it is frustrating and annoying.
Sarah seems to be swept away with all of the glitz and glamour of palace life and when she is summoned to dine with `Her Darling HRH` she is beside herself. Sarah constantly refers to Prince Charles as though he were a mini-God, all fine and well at first but irksome as you read on. Sarah is wholeheartedly enjoying her work as a Lady Clerk, she often meets up with Prince Charles along the way but her `inner nanny` chastises her when her thoughts or feelings run away with her.
Througout the course of the book her `Inner Nanny` fights to keeps her on the right path and by the end of the book I felt that I was on first name terms with that Inner Nanny.
The Palace Diaries has a weak storyline, there are some comical moments and Sarah is well aware of her strenths and weaknesses.
I read the book all of the way through because I kept feeling that there must be something more interesting around the next corner but that next corner never came.
Long after Sarah has found her feet and she is lulled into a false sense of secuirty things begin to go awry and before Sarah realises it the tide turns and her world starts to spin on its axis.
The book is light reading, in the middle of the book there are a few pages that have pictures of the Royals and Sarah which I enjoyed looking at. Apart from that the book has little substance, it is just another book that contains everything that we have already read.
I usually have a better reason for reading a book than that I like the look of the cover, but that's what happened with this one, when I saw it on the new acquisitions shelf in my local library.
The author, Sarah Goodall (who had help writing from Nicholas Monson), sees herself as a Bridget Jones of the Palace. The main difference between Bridget Jones and Sarah Goodall for me was that I have a fondness for Bridget, but I think Sarah comes over as an extremely self-centred person.
She says that she comes from an "ordinary" background, and compared to the Royals, she does. In fact she comes from a middle class family, where Daddy is able and occasionally willing, to dish out the odd £2,000 to his "hard-up" daughter, with spending habits way above her station in life.
A twist of fate lands her what she thinks will be a dream job working as a Lady Clerk (Palace speak for secretary) to Prince Charles between the years 1988 to 2000.
Readers see a mixture of personalities through Sarah's eyes, including those that were born to be "important" Royals, those who climbed the slippery ladder and could easily slide down again, plus celebrities such as Jimmy Savile, Spike Milligan and The Spice Girls.
This book was a mistake for me, with so many other potentially more enjoyable reads to explore, but not a big mistake, and I can understand how it would appeal more to someone with a different sense of humour to mine.
Sarah Goodhall seems to think that she has been hard done by, but I saw her eventual demise coming during the story of her time working for the royals. She didn't read the signals given by others around her as well as she should. Naivety about how to behave, after 12 years of employment by the Royals, is a totally inadequate excuse.
Towards the end I felt like screaming at her to improve her attitude, drink less alcohol and arrive punctually, before it was too late, or start looking for another job ahead of the inevitable.
She eventually realises that a colleague, who was also a friend, gave her the most frank warning about Red Carpet Fever, but by then it was too late.
As far as her sex life is concerned there is variety in partners, but no very physically intimate details. I deliberately use the phrase sex life, as opposed to love life, because I think she is too selfish to love anyone but herself.
At all stages in the book she thinks she is in love with His Royal Gorgeousness the Prince of Wales, but that, I believe, is infatuation with his power and money.
My opinion of the Royal Family after reading this book is no better or worse than before, as nothing about them in the book surprised me.
*** Conclusion & Suggested Alternative Reads ***
The author wrote this book to entertain readers and raise money for herself, rather than provide an historic record.
This is basically a chick-lit book with celebrities in it. I found it funny in places, but the author is not someone I can have empathy with.
If I were in the mood for a light funny chic-lit read, I would rather pick up something by Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, Melissa Nathan or Sarah Mason, whose heroines usually get my sympathy.
A book about celebrities, including Royals, that I enjoyed a lot more than Miss Goodhall's book was The Diary of a Tabloid Editor by Piers Morgan. This was often amusing, and it had the sort of humour I could enjoy without liking the author, who in any case knew that he made mistakes, frequently immediately after he made then.
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Mainstream Publishing; New Ed edition (1 Mar 2007)
The Palace Diaries
Written by Sarah Goodall and Nicholas Monsoon
Written in 2006 and published in 2007, this 318 page hard back book had me gripped in almost every chapter. Hailed as Racy, outrageous and hilarious - there's never been a Royal book like it. The Palace Diaries is a unique insiders view of what really went on during the most tumultuous period for the British monarchy, since the abdication of Edward VIII. On the cover is Miss Goodall, looking slinky and sassy in a Audrey Hepburn type pose, complete with Corgi. Her adoration and respect for Charles is paramount but I think this mostly comes from her loins, not from her heart.
To be honest, I had never heard of this Miss Goodall. This book came upon be by pure chance whilst browsing through a leading book website. It was on offer at 75% off the retail price and as I was about to embark on a holiday, I decided to buy it for a bit of easy reading.
Sarah was born in 1964 into a very privileged family and was raised in Shropshire. She went onto study chartered surveying at the Royal Agricultural College of which she eventually ran away from as well as her latest love interest. Life as a farmers wife was not for her.
In May 1988, she was employed as a secretary for an auction house in London, living in a flat share in Fulham. This too became boring for her and was badly paid so it was then she approached a job agency in the city. Her details were forwarded to Kensington Palace for the role of a Lady Clerk.
*** The Story Behind the Book***
From the beginning of the book it is clear that she has grand affection for the younger male Royals. The flat which she rented overlooked the house of Viscount Linley and she would often peer over to his bedroom window and watch his silhouette against the curtain with his then partner Susannah Constantine, Trinny Woodalls other half in the series What Not to Wear. From her comments it is obvious she wished it was her in that bedroom whilst she was playing at peeping Tom.
The role of a Lady Clerk in laymens terms is an administrator come secretary. Prince Charles has quite a large congregation of Lady Clerks in his employment and Sarah was to be given the task of reading his fan mail and dealing with as she deemed appropriate. This position gave her a meagre salary of £162 per week, just £1000 more than her previous role. However it was the title and working for Royalty that made her accept this job, only after she signed the Official Secrets Act.
Sarah started at the bottom of the Lady Clerk ladder and eventually she was given extra duties and moved her way up to the point that she accompanying HRH as she always calls Charles on many trips abroad and social events. Her nervousness at meeting Prince Charles sound diminished over the years and she even felt relaxed enough to fall asleep in his cinema room after her poured her a long alcoholic drink. Charles trusted Sarah in that he would give her the responsibility of looking after not his two children, but his dog whenever she stayed at a Royal residence.
It is clear that Sarah in madly in lust of HRH. There are many sentences such as I gaze into his beautiful blue eyes and have to muster my self control. Oh please, this is Charles, he might be a prince and possibly the future King of England but he is no Robbie Williams look alike. The amount of lovers she writes about in her palace diaries book is quite vast, this is obviously a lady who likes sex and has a strong appetite for it. This naïve and some what immature young woman certainly does lie down and think of England, for her Prince and country no doubt!
When she joined the Palace, Charles was still married albeit unhappily with Princess Diana. Diana hardly acknowledged Sarah as she was employed in Charless camp and that area was a no go zone for the Princess. The animosity between the pair was already very apparent as Sarah would notice at the staff Christmas parties. For example, Diana would arrive through another door looking absolutely stunning as she always did and only mingling with her direct staff, ignoring Charless section. Charles hardly acknowledged his wife and she would leave earlier than him, also through a different exit to her husband.
Sarah seems to be definitely a Charles supporter and in her book never has a bad word to say against him, just lots of love and admiration. Even his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles did not deter her loyalty, just her curiosity as to why he could ditch such a beautiful young wife for a married mother of two. I am sure half of the nation still does not understand it to this day. She claims however that Diana was no dutiful spouse and James Hewitt was not the only stallion in her stable, a comment that makes me laugh whenever I remember it.
Clearly she is no fan of Dianas; even stating that she was mentally unstable and manipulative. She does however not has a bad word to say against The Duchess of Cornwall, even if you read between the lines that Camilla was said to be jealous of the closeness between Sarah and his lusciousness!
From 1988 until 2000, Sarah Goodall remained in employment with Charles. Obviously she was not in it for the vast salary as the wages were pathetic, she found it impossible to survive on what she earned and so mummy and daddy had to subsidise her and the increasing overdrafts and bank loans. The bank decided enough was enough and refused to lend her any more but fortunately daddy was on hand to help out. Sarah enjoyed the grandeur of working for Royalty and mixing with aristocracy and even though she was incurring huge debts, she just couldnt leave the role as a poorly paid Lady Clerk. She had ideas above her station and in the end her world came crashing down. HRH or his Lovingness showed no support for Sarah at the very end, he could have saved her job but declined and carried on living in his own glass bubble.
As always with the Royals, she was treated coldly for all the years of service and hardly a healthy bank balance to show for it. The poor girl suffered the humiliation of being escorted out of the palace by security as if she was some sort of criminal, not a long standing lady Clerk.
I do not wish to give too much information away and spoil the book for any impending buyers, but if you like gossip with a mere hint of Royal scandal, it really is a good read. Little hints are given towards the end of the book which set the alarm bells ringing in the back of your mind.
One such paragraph was about Prince Harry and the debate about who his father is. Now come one, if you put Harry alongside James Hewitt and his Royal Loveliness, as Sarah would say, who would you pick as his biological father? If looks are not enough, then look at Harrys personality/characteristics. It will not take you long to decide who his real father is, as he is the mirror image of him.
The section that Sarah wrote in her book about this debate about Harry highlighted the fact that the Royal family have an understanding about members of the family who are not related biologically. They accept a member regardless of whose genes they carry as their own in order to stop scandal. Hmmmmm., enough said.
This book also showed, that just like Diana and Sarah Ferguson, when you become surplus to requirements within the Royal circle, you become redundant and pushed away. The Palace Diaries offers a lively portrait of everyday life in the Royal Family and I feel is great value for money.
What lets it down is the lack of photographs. There are some pictures in the middle of the book but nothing personal. The pictures are taken from media clippings, not from Sarahs own camera.
Charles had his chance to help his senior Lady Clerk when she requested a one to one meeting with him prior to her sacking. Instead he became oblivious to her being unemployed and waffled on about his plants. One good thing on Sarahs side is the fact that she peed in his Royal Lust Buckets bushes at Highgrove, whilst he walked passed oblivious to the fact she was crouching just inches from him with her knickers round her ankles.
Good on you girl and so it goes on. A very modern, rather daft yet great fun book. Ill bet Prince Charles will fall about laughing if he gets to read it, or is allowed to. xx
WHsmiths High Street Stores
Price: RRP £12.99
The Palace Diaries is a hilarious, light-hearted look at life behind the scenes of the Royal Establishment. Sarah Goodall spent 12 years working for Prince Charles as a Lady Clerk from 1988 to 2000 - the period during which his marriage to the Princess of Wales broke down amid a frenzy of media attention. Sarah witnessed the personal strain suffered by the Prince while he was pilloried by the press for his long-running affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. But this is more than just another examination of the failed Royal marriage - it is the story of a rather naive and accident-prone young woman whose dreams all came true when she was given the opportunity to work for the heir to the throne. Sarah gets herself into numerous compromising situations, both at work and in her personal life, but she manages to establish a good rapport with her Royal employer. The fairytale comes crashing to an end, however, when she gets on the wrong side of Camilla Parker-Bowles, and not even a final dramatic encounter with Prince Charles can save her from the axe. The Palace Diaries is an entertaining romp of a read which will delight and intrigue in equal measure.