Prince Harry and King Charles' Rift Could Be Due to Changing Attitudes to Duty and Personal Happiness, Psychologist Says

Joshua Coleman suggests Charles should acknowledge his part in the estrangement.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Prince Harry laugh during the Invictus Games Opening Ceremony on September 10, 2014 in London, England. The International sports event for 'wounded warriors', presented by Jaguar Land Rover
(Image credit: Photo by Chris Jackson / Getty)

Tensions have run high between Prince Harry and his father Charles since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex decided to step down from their roles as senior royals, and there has been much commentary about the situation.

On the one hand, Harry and his wife Meghan have been praised by fans for pursuing their freedom and a life away from the hyper-regulated existence that comes with being a working royal.

On the other hand, they have made the object of virulent criticism for what some people see as their giving up on family.

But there's much more going on here than social media trolls might care to acknowledge, and it may be down to generational differences in balancing duty and happiness, according to one psychologist.

The distance between Harry and Charles is perhaps a "testimony to how powerful the shift in prioritizing one’s own personal happiness over tradition, in this case tradition that includes the tradition of the Royal Family and lineages that go along with that," Joshua Coleman, a psychologist and therapist, told the Guardian. "The desire to further one’s happiness is strong enough, unlike prior generations to give some people freedom."

Coleman explained that someone needs to take responsibility for the rift in order for anything to change, and suggested that it would be helpful for Charles as the parent to "acknowledge mistakes to the adult child," as well as demonstrate "empathy and responsibility where they show a kernel of truth in the child’s complaints."

Basically, there's no making up if you don't validate the other person's feelings, even if you disagree intellectually.

Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of British Vogue, InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29 and SELF. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.