As a little Jewish girl from the East End, Angela Levin stood outside Buckingham Palace in the hope that the then-Queen would invite her in for tea.
That particular dream never transpired, but her fascination with the Windsors eventually delivered something far more remarkable: she became their biographer and, over her long career, has spent hours upon hours with members of the world’s most famous family.
That intimacy — she spent 15 months in discussions with Prince Harry for her biography Harry: Conversations with the Prince, published in 2018 — combined with Levin’s willingness to express strident views on royal relationships, has also placed her firmly in the media spotlight.
Levin’s criticism of Meghan Markle, a woman she says is “not easily pleased”, has made her a target for the Duchess’s social media supporters, a group she calls the “Sussex Squad”.
“It’s been hideous,” she says of her experience with the group, which, it should be said, is not the responsibility of Markle herself. “I’ve been told, why don’t I kill myself, you’re not a journalist… you’re just a liar. Anyone who dares criticise Meghan will find that they have a lot of people trying to get them down.
“People on social media were very angry with me about something and two people said that they’d discovered that I was in touch regularly with very right-wing people and that my friends were mainly Nazis. To tell a Jewish person that is absolute nonsense, and wrong.”
Most recently, Levin has made clear her views on Meghan joining her husband in Germany this month for the Invictus Games, the sporting event Harry launched for wounded military personnel and veterans in 2014.
And she is just as opinionated on the Duchess skipping the UK during her visit.
“Nobody wants her here, her popularity is dreadful,” she says. “I’m very pleased she’s not coming. And I didn’t want her to go to the Invictus Games. I’ve had loads of people contacting me to say it’s not right.”
She points to plans for Meghan to give a talk to 500 ex-military and their families about courage and resilience. “How can she know anything about what these soldiers have been through?” asks Levin.
She also feels that this should be Harry’s opportunity to show his mettle at supporting others — which she has observed in person several times. “This is what he really cares about,” she says. “I’ve seen him with really wounded soldiers. He’s been brilliant with them.”
Does she feel sorry for Harry? “There’s a bit of me that feels sorry. “His main aim is to please her, but she’s one of those women I don’t think is easily pleased.”
Her first royal assignment, as a journalist, was to interview Princess Margaret. Her next was with Camilla in 2005. “Nobody knew anything about her then,” says Levin.
“She’s very funny, has a quick wit and she’s very interested in other people.”
Levin had spent many a session at Clarence House and Kensington Palace in discussion about a prospective interview before she received an invitation to attend one of Camilla’s engagements: visiting rape victims in east London.
She recalls her own inconspicuous entrance to the safe house, and asking the “strained” young women if they were looking forward to seeing the Duchess. “Not a single one wanted to do that,” she says.
“They couldn’t care less.” And then Camilla arrived through a window at the back, “roaring with laughter at herself”. “It was the funniest thing I’ve seen. It was so natural,” says Levin.
Camilla made a small speech before she talked to the women. And when she moved on, Levin stayed behind to see if she’d made any changes in improving these women’s lives.
“It was absolutely amazing,” Levin recalls, “because every single one that had said ‘who cares?’ said ‘she was wonderful. I never expected her to be like that, she was really interested in me.
"She’s helped me more in ten minutes than going to see a specialist in six months.’”
It was then that Levin decided to write Camilla’s biography one day, and it was eventually published in November 2022.
She witnessed King Charles and Camilla’s affection for one another when she was invited to a reception for journalists at Clarence House, just after the pandemic rules were lifted.
With Charles on engagements that morning, Camilla was doing the rounds.
“And then towards the end, he came rushing in, and her face lit up. It was incredibly touching.”
The royal expert is extremely approving of the King, with whom she spent a year in the run-up to his 70th birthday, for a Sunday magazine.
“He’s much underrated,” she says, recalling her visit to Dumfries Castle in Scotland where she was able to see first-hand the King’s efforts to help young disadvantaged people in search of a job, by employing them through his charity The Prince’s Trust’s Get Into programme. While having dinner, she pondered the hard life the waiters must have endured.
“I couldn’t understand why some of the waiters looked really terrible, and I spoke to one of the secretaries.
"He explained to me that this was their first time serving, and that the then Prince Charles did that because that way they would get a job. I thought that was brilliant of him.
"Who would turn down someone who’d worked for the then future king? What he’s done for young people is absolutely extraordinary.”