Prince Harry’s Past Criticism of Queen Camilla “Still Bothers” King Charles, and He Feels “Torn” Between His Wife and His Younger Son

“He’s always been very protective of Camilla. It’s not easy for him to forgive people who have scorned her.”

King Charles, Queen Camilla, and Prince Harry
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Even before King Charles was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, his wife, Queen Camilla, was, as Us Weekly put it, his “fiercest ally.” But now, post-diagnosis, she’s even more so—and for a time led the royal family as three of its four most senior members were out of commission earlier this year: the King, battling cancer; the Princess of Wales undergoing a planned abdominal surgery (that later turned into a cancer diagnosis of her own); and Prince William taking care of his wife and their three young kids. During that awful time period, it was Camilla who kept the ship afloat, often stepping in for her husband at events as he received treatment for cancer, before his eventual return to public life on April 30 after about three months away.

King Charles

The King and Queen at a Buckingham Palace garden party last month, after the King returned to public-facing duties on April 30.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Apparently, according to Us Weekly, Camilla is also “imploring” her husband “to keep his distance” from his younger son, Prince Harry, “and it's putting the King in a difficult position,” the publication writes. “Camilla dislikes Harry and doesn’t want Charles to get stressed while he’s undergoing treatment, so she tries to limit interaction,” a source speaking to the outlet said in what sounds like the stereotypical stepparent-stepchild worst nightmare. 

The King, meanwhile, “is holding out hope of salvaging their relationship, but is hugely conflicted because Harry has hurt William and Camilla so much," they said. But, they added, it’s not a one-sided situation, as “Harry has also been hurt.”

Queen Camilla, Prince William, and Prince Harry

William and Harry apparently begged their father to not marry Camilla, which he did back in 2005 under the promise that she would never become Queen and would remain Princess Consort.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Though conflict was certainly brewing before the 2023 publication of Harry’s memoir, Spare, it bubbled over after the bestselling book’s publication—specifically when it came to Camilla and Harry. In the book, Harry accused his stepmother’s team of leaking stories about him to the British press and labeled her “a villain.” He also leveled criticism at her in his six-part Netflix docuseries alongside wife Meghan Markle, appropriately called Harry & Meghan. “When the docuseries came out, Camilla was furious,” another source told Us Weekly. “Then, when Spare [was released], Camilla was saddened about what was said about her. She was heartbroken and confused.”

Royal biographer Christopher Andersen said that William and Harry “have always resented Camilla,” he said. “They pleaded with their father not to marry her and only grudgingly agreed to go along with the charade if Charles kept his promise not to make her Queen. That title would have gone to [their mother, Princess] Diana if Camilla hadn’t broken up their parents’ marriage. When Charles broke that promise, William and Harry felt betrayed.”

Queen Camilla, Prince William, and Prince Harry

William's relationship with Camilla has evolved, but she and Harry remain estranged.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While promoting Spare in a January 2023 interview with Good Morning America, Harry admittedly said it had been “a long time” since he’d spoken to Camilla, but said of her that “She’s my stepmother. I don’t look at her as an evil stepmother. I see someone who married into this institution and has done everything that she can to improve her own reputation and her own image, for her own sake.”

Flash forward to present day—specifically Harry’s visit to the U.K. last month for the 10-year anniversary celebrations of Harry’s Invictus Games, which not only did the entire royal family skip, but the King seemed unable to make time in his schedule to see his younger son, who, of course, now lives in the U.S. and visits the U.K. sparingly. Andersen said he “sees the fine hand of Camilla” behind the King freezing Harry out: “She’s focused on her husband’s health, and injecting Harry into the equation will only cause more turmoil,” Andersen said. He added that Charles avoiding Harry “does seem a little callous—the late Queen Elizabeth said she wanted Harry to be considered part of the family, always.”

Prince Harry Camilla

Camilla was not pleased with both the "Harry & Meghan" docuseries on Netflix and Harry's memoir, "Spare," released in back-to-back months in December 2022 and January 2023.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Mirror reports that Harry’s criticism of Camilla “still bothers” Charles, and that he’s “torn” between the two of them. “Charles harbors a lot of anger towards Harry,” the Us Weekly source said. “He’s always been very protective of Camilla. It’s not easy for him to forgive people who have scorned her.”

Prince William at the Commonwealth Day Service

The two at the Commonwealth Day Service back in March.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Though William’s relationship with his stepmother was once rocky, too, fences seem to have mended on this front. “At one point, Prince William’s relationship with his stepmother was so bad that he allegedly ‘begged’ his father not to marry her,” The Daily Mail reports. But this past week, Camilla and William “showed how far they have come in their relationship as they arrived at Royal Ascot together in what was a rare joint outing at a social occasion,” the outlet continues. 

Prince William and Queen Camilla at Royal Ascot

Camilla and William this week at Royal Ascot.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While they also jointly attended the Commonwealth Day Service together back in March sans their respective spouses—as both were undergoing treatment for cancer—“that was an official engagement,” The Daily Mail reports. “Ascot is not on the roster of duties, and so will be seen by royal watchers as a sign of how well William and the Queen now get on.”

If reconciliation can happen once, surely it can happen twice, right? Again, we remain hopeful.

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.