Thursday, 9 Apr 2020

Prince Charles heartbreak: How Meghan and Harry raise Charles’ childhood fear

Prince Charles has been reported to be saddened and angered by Harry and Meghan’s shock announcement on Instagram this week that they are stepping back from their senior royal duties. While Harry has stayed in the UK to attend crisis meetings with the Royal Family, Meghan has flown back to Canada to be reunited with baby Archie, provoking discussion about whether the Duke and Duchess intend to return to the UK as a family or not. 

The decision to leave their royal positions, and potentially spend the majority of their time as a family abroad, raises parallels with the abdication crisis of 1936 which saw Edward VIII renounce the throne. 

The crisis, which the Queen well remembers, tore the Royal Family apart and also impacted the next generation – as Prince Charles had grown up with the example of “Uncle David”, Edward VIII, as a primary fear. 

In her 2005 book “The Firm”, royal biographer Penny Junor takes a look at the “terror” that has spurred on Charles’ decisions throughout his life. 

Ms Junor writes: “Charles grew up with the spectre of the abdication hovering over him.

“He had been weaned on stories about the disgrace brought upon the family by the Duke of Windsor who, as Edward VIII, gave up the throne rather than the woman he loved.”

She adds: “No one felt so bitter and unforgiving about his behaviour, nor referred to it with more venom, than the Queen Mother.”

Charles was incredibly close to the late Queen Mother, of whom he said on her death in 2002: “ I was utterly devoted to her.”

Ms Junor continues: “Nothing has spurred the Prince of Wales over the years quite like the terror that he might be compared with the Duke of Windsor. 

“There have always been similarities, not least of all a selfish streak.

“Before his disgrace, Edward VIII was a charming and popular figure and much praised for his social conscience.

“During the Seventies, when Charles was rattling his way through an alarming number of girls with little apparent care or thought for anyone else, Louis Mountbatten thought he was showing alarming signs.

“He warned him against the ‘beginning on the downward slope which wrecked your Uncle David’s life and led to his disgraceful abdication and his futile life ever after’.

“The prince was shocked that his ‘honorary grandfather’ Mountbatten could have drawn such a devastating  parallel and considered himself soundly rebuked.

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“The prince was shocked that his ‘honorary grandfather’ Mountbatten could have drawn such a devastating  parallel and considered himself soundly rebuked.”

Lord Louis Mountbatten, Charles’ great-uncle and a very important mentor to him, warned the young Charles about the dangers of not thinking of others. 

Speaking in documentary ‘The Madness of Prince Charles’, biographer Philip Ziegler explained: “Mountbatten wrote a very very stern letter to him saying, your behaviour is totally indefensible. You’re becoming just like your great-uncle David.”

The letter read: “I see all the same irresponsibility and frivolity coming out. 

“You must take a pull, you must not become like your great-uncle David – think what happened to him.”

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