Several times in this picture its interviewees attempt to contradict the impression that King Charles is an “old dry stick.” Hence the documentary, directed by Jim Nally, is juicier than its sad-sack title indicates. The “boy who walked alone” phrase comes from Johnny Stonborough, who was a schoolmate of the then Prince of Wales at Gordonstoun, a strict Scottish boarding school (referred to by some, says Stonborough, as “Colditz in a kilt”) where Charles’s father sent him to “toughen him up.” Not only did Charles not make many friends there, but he also endured bullying from upperclassmen under approval from the headmaster.
Once out of school, though, he did rather well with members of the opposite sex. The picture teems with contemporary interviews with former Charles-daters who speak of his wit, his “cheekiness” and his delightful flirtatiousness. But even as he enjoyed himself on beaches and polo fields with women he was well aware he could never marry, he still kept his eye on one; the movie reminds us that he’d met Camilla Rosemary Shand when he was a teen, and he did not take his eye off her after marriage made her Camilla Parker Bowles.
The movie itself highly approves of the match. About an hour into proceedings, there’s a spate of Princess Diana-bashing during which the phrase “not to speak ill of the dead” is never uttered. Near the movie’s end, a “royal journalist” and a “royal biographer” wax rueful that Prince Harry has lashed out at Dad Charles, who is maybe, in their opinion, the last royal to really care about the monarchy. Gosh. If there’s one thing this movie demonstrates, it’s that whatever the actual function of said monarchy, it does give Britain’s taxpayers their money’s worth in drama if nothing else.
King Charles, the Boy Who Walked Alone
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Watch on Paramount+.