Prince William and Prince Charles haven’t always had the best of relationships. Even from his early years Prince William would often come into conflict with his father. One such example is when his anger about the illegal wildlife trade led him to urge that the Royal Collection should get rid of its 1,200 items of ivory. The Prince believed that if they items are destroyed, it would set a great public example in the fight against elephant poaching.
Prince Charles, while understanding where Prince William is coming from, resisted the notion, with his reasoning being that the Royal Family’s extensive collection of artifacts-the items including an ivory throne which belonged to Queen Victoria-is an inseparable part of its history.
According to reports, when the two were heatedly debating their opposing viewpoints Prince Charles called William ‘naive’ and rebuked him for his public comments.
However, in recent years the two have been steadily mending their relationship, becoming more closer with each passing day. Of course, this comes with age as people realize what’s really important, with the two seeing that they share quite a few similar values. Another reason might be that its out of necessity.
The royal family has had quite a eventful last decade, mostly painting the royal family in a bad light. From Prince Andrew’s disastrous interview on BBC2’s Newsnight in late 2019 about his friendship with the paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, to Harry and Meghan’s decision to quit The Firm, Prince William and Prince Charles have had to come together to work towards a common goal.
The two seek each other’s counsel, with Charles now consulting his son on some things instead of just imposing his own opinions.
As one aide says: ‘He’s giving William much more input. He realises that his own reign will be a shorter one than his son’s, and therefore it is crucial that William is involved in all long-term planning.
‘They have been spending more time together and are much more aligned. Both are more comfortable in their own skin – and with each other.’
Its well known that Prince William and Prince Harry didnt have the optimal childhood, with them losing their mother in 1997. Charles wasnt a very present father for both of his sons, with him getting blamed for any sign of unhappiness.
In his early days as a married man Prince William preferred to focus on his own life in Norfolk rather than spend time with his father, who lives only four hours away in Gloucestershire. This has lead some fans and royal experts to speculate that there might be a rivalry between the two households.
Two years ago, when William was asked to appear in a TV documentary celebrating his father’s work for the Duchy of Cornwall, something that he himself will be responsible for one day, an aide tartly retorted that the Duke of Cambridge was ‘not doing anything more for his father’.
Some say that Prince William feels a bit irritated that his father is somehow using his sons popularity, and that of his wife and three kids, to improve his own image. William has previously made it clear that he himself is reluctant to use his own children as ‘props’.
There have been a couple of instances when Prince William has made his displeasure known. An example is might be when Charles issued an official photo of himself in which framed, private, pictures of his grandchildren could be seen in the background. Another example is when Charles’s aides revealed to the media that his gardens at Highgrove had been turned into a ‘toddler’s paradise’ for the then two-year-old George, complete with a refurbished treehouse.
Or it just might be that Prince Charles is simply oblivious to the offence caused, however unlikely.
Sometimes Charles himself gives the fans something to talk about, especially when he seems reluctant to give praise to all the work Prince William has done for the royal family. Both of his sons have made great projects and support all kinds of organizations, organizations that Charles himself is a big supporter of. There is the occasional good word by the Prince for his two sons, like when he described Prince Harry as his ‘darling boy’.
Another fact that might be causing tension between the two is the popular opinion among the people that the crown should skip a generation and that William should be the next monarch after the Queen. One can see why Charles would be displeased with that, but he just simply cant fight the ever rising popularity of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Charles has also shown a bit of jealousy due to the fact that his grandchildren spend more time with Kate’s parents, Carole and Mike Middleton, compared to him. He has been described as saying he felt ‘edged out’.
Prince William and Kate often visit the Middleton estate, be it for holidays, important dates or just because, and it seems that the royal couple feel that the Middleton upbringing is more beneficial to their children compared to the busy royal Windsor way.
As William said in 2017: ‘If I look at my parents’ generation, there was a lot more stiff upper lip going on. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for the stiff upper lip, and, for those of us in public life, times when you have to maintain it. But behind closed doors, in normal everyday life, we have to be more open and upfront with our feelings and emotions.
‘Catherine and I are clear that we want both George and Charlotte to grow up feeling able to talk about their emotions and feelings.’
The situation was not helped when Charles missed Prince George’s first birthday party, instead going to a red squirrel conservation event in Scotland.
Some try to defend and explain why Prince Charles is the way he is, using his own experiences as a child as proof. Not seeing his parents for long periods of time, being shipped off to boarding school in Scotland, he had a very different upbringing to that of Kate and William’s three children.
Charles’s biographer Jonathan Dimbleby asserted that he was ‘timid and passive and easily cowed by the forceful personality of his father’ who ‘easily drew tears to the child’s eye’.
Charles grew up despising confrontation, a result of Prince Philip’s no-nonsense parenting method, so Charles would rather take a back seat rather than create an intimate relationship with his own children.
This meant that the two sons have complete freedom to do things their own way, which sometimes didnt overlap with the way Prince Charles would do things.
One former member of the household said: ‘William has quite a temper and could fly off the handle at the slightest thing. His father was wary of making matters worse.’
But with time, and with him becoming a father himself to three children, Prince William has become more understanding and approachable when it comes to that sort of thing. With this new approach the two started working together more, such as with William taking a bigger interest in the Duchy of Cornwall.
The Prince even was featured in an ITV documentary celebrating 50 years of work for the duchy, touchingly paying tribute to his father while speaking to tenant farmers.
After hearing his son speak, Charles was ‘deeply touched and moved’.
‘Frankly, it reduced me to tears. It did really,’ he murmured.
One of the biggest reasons, if not the biggest one, for the two healing their relationship is the departure of Prince Harry from the royal family and the UK. At the start Charles was a supporter of the half-in/half-out strategy for the young couple, however he soon joined Prince William and the Queen’s side, coming to the conclusion that the hybrid solution would not work at the so-called Sandringham Summit.
Kate has also been a great influence on the two royals coming together. She encourages Charles to visit Anmer hall more often, going so far to plan ahead so that the kids could have the most quality time with their grandpa as they can. It also helped that Kate did a great job with Prince Charles’ family portrait for his 70th birthday. She even was the one behind the great photograph of Prince Charles and Prince William, the one with Charles resting his head on William’s shoulder as they walked in Norfolk last winter. The whole family has bonded with Charles, mostly through their shared interest, such as walks in nature or their love for wildlife.
At the moment things are looking better, which means that the future of the royal family will be standing on much more stable grounds.