Yes, they may be the British Royal Family, but, at the end of the day, they’re still just a family—one with rows just like the rest of us. Like many father-son duos, the relationship between Prince Charles and Prince William isn’t always smooth sailing, and it seems both of their wives—Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, respectively—step in and mediate if arguments get out of hand.
Camilla, for her part, is fiercely protective of Charles, her husband of 17 years but partner for far longer. According to royal expert Robert Jobson, Camilla is prepared to put William in his place when he abuses Charles’ generosity, per The Daily Express, noting that the Duke of Cambridge has a “notably short fuse” in private. While the Prince of Wales tends to “tread carefully” when dealing with William, Camilla is “not as accommodating,” Jobson said.
“The truth is, the Duchess feels it is her duty to protect the Prince of Wales from himself sometimes,” Jobson wrote in his new book, William at 40: The Making of a Modern Monarch (opens in new tab), out June 21, William’s fortieth birthday. “He is going to be king, and she doesn’t mind reminding others in the family of that now and again—and that includes his son and heir.”
Jobson’s book also cites a former senior member of the Royal Household as claiming that William believed he is “on a level” with his father as both are heirs to the throne, rather than being more mindful that Charles’ reign will precede William’s. (Charles, for his part, has always shown deference to his mother, the Queen, as ahead of him in the royal pecking order; both William and Prince Harry have always seen their father as more of an equal and lacked that reverence, per The Daily Express.) And, though Camilla isn’t a fan of outright confrontation, she’ll use more subtle means to get her point across.
Reporting the words of a different courtier, Jobson wrote “I remember one occasion when they were leaving Windsor Castle after a joint event, and the Duke of Cambridge had learned that his father had police outriders from the Special Escort Group for a journey, as his royal status warranted. He asked his father if he and Catherine could tag along behind in a convoy, making it easy to get through the traffic. The Prince of Wales agreed. But when the Prince and Duchess of Cornwall were kept waiting several minutes by Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall insisted they go without his eldest son in tow. As William and Catherine emerged, all they could see were the blue flashing lights of the motorbikes disappearing in the distance.”
At other times, Jobson said, it’s Kate who acts as mediator with a “diplomatic touch” between father-son arguments.
“Occasionally, it has needed his wife Catherine’s deft diplomatic touch to smooth things over between father and son,” The Daily Express reports. “Even their mutual passion for the environment has somehow managed to lay bare their [Charles and William’s] differences. The Duke of Cambridge has done a brilliant job injecting hope into the debate over climate change, instead of always saying we’re at the cliff edge. His initiative [the Earthshot Prize competition] is about finding ways to stop and slow the damage. The Prince of Wales, while passionate, offers a doomsday scenario.”
Both William and Harry are prone to “occasionally unpredictable moods,” which Jobson said “Charles admits he often finds it difficult to gauge.”
About William in particular, “his fiery temper can blow up at any time—usually when he’s frustrated or when it comes to issues regarding his family,” Jobson said. “Even senior members of his circle will ‘check which way the wind is blowing’ before becoming too self-assured in his presence or raising problematic issues that might be better addressed at another time. Other insiders confide that William can be an emotional character who is, on occasion, ‘difficult to handle.’”
Jobson said even William’s own father sometimes doesn’t know how to react.
“Sometimes, the level of William’s belligerence has shocked his father, who’s always loathed confrontation,” Jobson said. “The result is that Charles tends to tread carefully when dealing with his heir and fails to pull him up on his lack of respect.”
And that, it seems, is when Camilla is prone to step in.
Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.
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