Prince Charles has been waiting to assume the throne nearly his entire life. His 87-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II, has no intention of abdicating, but her eldest child is assuming more responsibility as time goes on.
In an exclusive interview, Time magazine's Catherine Mayer writes that the 64-year-old royal has long suffered misperceptions that he is "aloof, spoiled and desperate to become King."
Her main goal is to reveal the "true" Prince Charles, whom she describes as a "passionate philanthropist, magnetic in his personal interactions and deeply committed to making the most of his inherited position." She also strives to expose his hopes and fears for the future.
Mayer was granted unbelievable access to Prince Charles, travelling to his residences in England, Scotland and Wales and interviewing more than 50 of his friends and associates.
"I've had this extraordinary feeling, for years and years, ever since I can remember really, of wanting to heal and make things better," Prince Charles tells Mayer about his royal position and wanting to be a king of people's hearts. "I feel more than anything else it's my duty to worry about everybody and their lives in this country, to try to find a way of improving things if I possibly can."
The title "The Forgotten Prince," probably reflects the recent superstar status of his two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, his daughter in-law Kate Middleton, and his 3-month-old first grandchild, Prince George, popularizing the monarch to never-before-seen levels. However, Mayer presents Charles as an impressed father and grandfather, declaring that his grandson, who is third in line to the throne, is "what this is all about" and that he is looking out for "everybody else's grandchildren" too.
Prince Charles is also very dedicated to his charity, the Prince's Trust, which helps the British develop their careers and businesses.
"A few people are lucky enough to know exactly what they want to do," he explains. "But there's a hell of a lot of others who don't really know and may not be obviously academic, who suffer from low self-esteem."
And still, despite the misperceptions about Prince Charles, Mayer exposes his humorous side.
Actress Emma Thompson claims that dancing with her old friend is "better than sex."
Mayer also touches on the late Princess Diana, explaining that she was "already a queen of people's hearts," but the negative persona of Prince Charles "predated the failure of his marriage" and that he was "waiting peevishly for his mother to die so he can finally become King."
This image could not be further from the truth, Mayer explains, saying he accepts his additional duties "joylessly."
"He prefers not to focus on his accession, which, after all, means losing his mother," she writes. "And far from itching to assume the crown, he is already feeling its weight and worrying about its impact on the job he has long been doing."
Prince Charles has found happiness with Camilla Parker Bowles (also known as the Duchess of Cornwall), who he describes as his "wonderful wife," a far cry from the claims that the couple are living "separate lives" by the Daily Mail in 2011.
And the gossip swirling for years that the crown will skip Prince Charles' head?
"If you chuck away too many things," he says, "you end up discovering there was value in them."