The Daily Beast’s Royalist (Tom Sykes) has an interesting new piece about Prince Charles and Prince William’s “uneasy alliance” these days. William went to his first State Opening of Parliament this week, where he walked behind Rose Hanbury’s husband and generally looked bored and boring. To hear Sykes tell it, William performed his duty perfectly though, because William didn’t overshadow Charles on his big day, standing in for the Queen and performing her speech. This is the jumping-off point to analyze how Charles and William’s relationship has changed so much in recent years, something we’ve heard a lot. Basically, as soon as William succeeded in exiling his brother, William and Charles have been “closer” because Harry is not around. Some highlights from the Daily Beast:
No one paid attention to William in Parliament: There was precious little attention paid to the other royal in attendance, Prince William, who was very deliberately dressed down to the point of invisibility. Seated on a lowly chair compared to his father’s magisterial throne, his dark suit enabled William to effectively disappear into the background for his father’s day in the sun. Charles couldn’t have wished his son to be more helpful and supportive.
Charles was always closer to Harry: Charles’ relationship with Harry was actually understood by most friends of the family to be warmer than his relationship with William when the boys were teenagers and young men (which is part of what has made Harry’s attacks of the past two years particularly horrible for Charles). Some have speculated this is because William saw more and understood more of the breakdown of his parents’ relationship.
Charles wasn’t a fan of William’s emotions: If William had his reservations about his father, the feeling was mutual; Charles, a source tells The Daily Beast, was regularly dismayed by William’s emotive style, and what he felt was an overdoing of the common touch after he married Kate Middleton. “Charles hated William’s ‘I’m in touch with my feelings’ schtick,’” a friend of the family tells The Daily Beast. “He felt it wasn’t regal. It annoyed him with both sons, but particularly William because he didn’t feel the future king had to be touchy-feely, and it irritated him that William didn’t seem willing to take that on board. Charles’ style is very different; buttoned up, reserved and he hated the emoting, the interviews about his mental health and his feelings.”
Fights about work: But William, girded up by Kate, has absolutely refused to be pushed around. As Andersen says: “William is incredibly headstrong, and has had many rows with his father over the years about what royal duties he was or wasn’t willing to perform.”
William isn’t playing Game of Thrones: The truth is that had William wanted for one moment to be the next king (as his mother hoped), to weaponize the toxic past of his father would have been the work of an instant. But William has no such Game of Thrones-like urges. He and Kate are quite happy being the warm-up guys for the next few decades. William will always have a significant hold over his father, though, and the relationship between Charles and William, while not one of equals, will be significantly more even handed than that between the queen and Charles. Elizabeth has been queen since Charles was four years old, and for all of her reign, bar perhaps the last decade, he has been very much the lowly cadet. William is more likely to get something closer to partner status, largely because Charles needs him on side.
The Oprah interview: Things between William and Charles might have ticked along in this rather lukewarm fashion had it not been for the Harry and Meghan bombshell that struck the family in 2020. It changed everything, forcing father and son to finally fully commit to working together. There seems no reason to disbelieve reports that William was instrumental in the defenestration of Prince Andrew from royal life, another moment of unity. But ultimately, it was Harry who pushed William into Charles’ arms with his inflammatory comments to Oprah, including the jibe that he pitied his brother and father because they were “trapped” in their royal lives. “Harry forced William to jump, and when the moment came there was no doubt for William which way to go,” says the friend. “William picked the monarchy, and that has meant working closely with Charles. The relationship is as good as it’s ever been in his adult life.”
[From The Daily Beast]
Yeah, none of this reads as a genuine warmth between a father and his oldest son. It reads more like an uneasy alliance between two men who could do a lot of damage to one another. Of course William could really go after Charles and try to usurp him. So why doesn’t William do that? Because of mutually-assured destruction – Charles has a lot of dirt on William, and he could easily put William in his place with a few phone calls. They have just enough on each other to keep the other “in line.” Which, again, is not really a healthy father-son relationship.
As for Harry and the Oprah interview and all of that… Harry and Charles were genuinely close for many years. I absolutely believe that some of Harry’s deepest hurt – which came out in the Oprah interview – was that Charles didn’t have his back, that Charles behaved as if Harry was dispensable, that Charles “chose” the heir and not the spare.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Instar.
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