Oprah Winfrey’s highly anticipated interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is happening this Sunday, and it’s raising all kinds of questions about Queen Elizabeth’s family.
As of this second, it seems like things between Queen Elizabeth and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are strained. In an early clip from the interview that was released, Oprah asks Meghan how she feels about the palace hearing her “speak your truth.”
Meghan’s response was pretty telling: “I don’t know how they could expect that, after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us.”
(ICYMI: ‘The Firm’ is a term that the royal family uses to describe itself. According to Kitty Kelley, author of The Royals, Prince Philip coined the term ages ago.)
Meghan also implied that she’s not afraid to get into some intense stuff in the interview. “If that comes with risk of losing things, I mean… there is a lot that has been lost already,” she said.
In a previous clip released from the interview, Oprah says that what the couple went through while they were working members of the working family was “almost unsurvivable.” She also asked at one point, “were you silent or were you silenced?”
The clips came around the same time as royal aides told The Times that Meghan faced a bullying complaint when she was at Kensington Palace. According to the report, Meghan drove two staffers to quit, while another was terrified of her.
Buckingham Palace released a statement after the report, saying that it was “clearly very concerned about allegations in the Times” and that its human resources team would investigate. “The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace,” the statement said.
Meghan and Harry have denied the claims, with a spokesperson for the couple telling People that Meghan is “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.”
Apparently Meghan and Harry aren’t the only members of the royal family who have less-than-ideal relationships with the queen.
Take the strained mother-son dynamics of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, which is front and center in season four of The Crown as the show portrays Charles’ marriage to Princess Diana.
Since The Crown premiered on Netflix in 2016, non-royal viewers have been given a peek into all the strategizing and negotiations that go on inside the walls of Buckingham Palace. In 2019, the third season of the drama went deep into the relationships between Queen Elizabeth and her four children.
Here’s everything you need to know about Queen Elizabeth’s children and her relationship with them IRL:
Queen Elizabeth’s first son: Charles, Prince of Wales
The Queen was just 22 when she gave birth to husband Prince Philip’s first son and heir to the throne, Charles. He was born on November 14, 1948, which meant he was only 3 years old when his mother ascended the throne, according to the BBC.
Prince Charles became the longest-serving heir apparent in 2011 (surpassing the previous record of 59 years, two months and 13 days, set by his great-great-grandfather, King Edward VII). For those keeping track at home, Queen Elizabeth has reigned for more than six decades—and she’s still got it. (Sorry, Charlie.)
While most kids were practicing multiplication at age 9, Prince Charles was busy becoming Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. Charles didn’t attend Eton College (a boys’ boarding school founded byKing Henry VI) like most British royals. Instead, he went to Prince Philip’s alma mater, Gordonstoun, in Scotland, after transferring from Cheam School. He didn’t have the easiest time at boarding school, especially with his royal blood, per Vanity Fair.
After secondary school, Charles went to Trinity College, where he became the first royal heir apparent to get a degree, according to Times Higher Education. He studied anthropology, archaeology, and history and even spent time studying at archaeological sites in France.
Charles served in the Royal Air Force, where he trained as a jet pilot, according to his official bio. He also served in Royal Navy, just like his father, grandfather, and both of his great-grandfathers.
Charles had a slew of girlfriends, including his now-wife, Camilla Parker Bowles and Davina Sheffield, a woman who was reportedly his “soulmate” but was deemed unsuitable for a future with the prince because she wasn’t a virgin, per Marie Claire UK.
Take a rare look inside the Queen’s complicated relationship with her four children:
Once he was done living the bachelor life, Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer, who was 13 years his junior. (You can expect to see their courtship and grand nuptials on The Crown season 4.) The wedding came with much media attention, but Queen Elizabeth reportedly wasn’t particularly fond of the famous princess, per numerous accounts. Princess Di and Prince Charles divorced in 1996, just a year before her death in 1997. Charles felt pressured by his family into marrying Diana, even though he was in love with Camilla at the time, according to Kitty Kelley’s book, The Royals.
Charles remarried in 2005 to Camilla, who is now Duchess of Cornwall.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles allegedly weren’t close while he was growing up. The Queen left most of her parenting to the nannies, according to Prince Charles. In his 1994 authorized biography by Jonathan Dimbleby, Charles said that it was “inevitably the nursery staff” who watched the young royal take his first steps and taught him life lessons, per Town & Country.
But the heir apparent was close with Queen Elizabeth’s mother, aptly titled The Queen Mother, until she died in 2002. Speaking at her funeral, Prince Charles said that his grandmother “meant everything” to him and that he had “adored her” since childhood.
Queen Elizabeth’s only daughter: Anne, Princess Royal
Less than two years after Prince Charles was born, Queen Elizabeth gave birth to Anne, Princess Royal. She was born on August 15, 1950, when QE II was 24. Anne is the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. She is currently 14th in line to the throne (due to the patriarchal ascension system…ugh), behind her three brothers plus their children and grandchildren.
Unlike Prince Charles, Princess Anne rejects the notion that Queen Elizabeth was an uncaring mother. Sure, the nursery staff did some of the heavy lifting, but according to her, the Queen made sure to spend quality time with her children. “I simply don’t believe there is any evidence whatsoever to suggest that she wasn’t caring. It’s just beggars belief,” Princess Anne told the BBC in 2002. Anne and Queen Elizabeth bonded over their love for horses, and Anne became the first royal to participate in the Olympics, according to the organization’s website. Keep an eye out for her competing on horseback in season four.
Anne also doesn’t shy away from her duties as Princess Royal. She “has one of the busiest working schedules of any member of the royal family,” her official bio says. Odds are pretty high that wins her some props from her mom.
But, while Anne is busy, she’s made it clear she doesn’t love the custom of royal walkabouts, and she’s been pretty blunt about that. “I mean it gets easier but, can you imagine? I mean, how many people enjoy walking into a room full of people that you’ve never met before?” she said during BBC’s 2018 program The Queen: Her Commonwealth Story. “And then try a street. I don’t think many youngsters would actually volunteer to do that.”
There’s reason to believe Queen Elizabeth didn’t fully approve of her daughter’s actions, especially her divorce from Captain Mark Phillips, with whom she shared two children, Zara and Peter, per The Telegraph. The divorce was finalized in 1992 after it was revealed Phillips fathered a child outside their marriage. (His paternity was confirmed in 1991.)
That gave the Princess Royal an out, so she married once-rumored love Royal Navy Commanding Officer Timothy Laurence, per E! News. Now, Princess Anne works with more than 300 charities, according to the Royal Family’s official website, and makes roughly 500 appearances a year, Woman magazine reported.
In 2019, Princess Anne made headlines for apparently refusing to greet President Donald Trump and then shrugging in response to a slight scolding from the Queen during a Buckingham Palace reception held as part of a NATO summit in London in December 2019. Some U.S. politicians viewed the incident as public slight of the president, as reported by ABC News, but that doesn’t appear to be the whole story.
According to CNN, the interaction between royal mother and daughter had nothing to do with Trump. Instead, the Queen was looking to see who was next in line to be greeted and the Princess’ gesture and remark should have been read as a humorous response of, “It’s just me..and this lot.” Not a part of the official welcoming party, Princess Anne was actually just standing to the side and waiting for visiting dignitaries to finish entering the reception first. So, there you have it.
Princess Anne turned 70 in 2020, and to mark the milestone ITV released a documentary about her life, per Tatler.
Queen Elizabeth’s second son: Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Nearly 10 years separate Anne and Prince Andrew, who was born February 19, 1960, when Queen Elizabeth was 33. As the third child—but second son—of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Prince Andrew is eighth in line to the crown, directly behind Archie Mountbatten-Windsor (a.k.a. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s son). Prince Andrew’s older brother and sister were born before the Queen’s ascension, making him the first child born to a sitting monarch in 103 years, according to Biography.
By the time Prince Andrew was born, Queen Elizabeth had reigned for eight years. That made her more comfortable in her role, so she became a more hands-on mother, per Robert Lacey’s biography of the queen, Monarch: The Life and Reign of Elizabeth II. The Queen even spent time “cycling and chasing” her younger children through Buckingham Palace.
Andrew has been wrapped up in several scandals over the years, starting with his almost-marriage to actress Koo Stark in the 1980s. (Koo later won a libel suit against Viacom for being described as a porn star by the media, per the Press Gazette.) The prince was introduced to his future wife, Sarah Ferguson, by Princess Diana, according to Hello!. The couple wed in 1986, and they had two children before divorcing in 1996 (which, like her other children’s divorces, likely didn’t please the Queen).
But the biggest scandal of Prince Andrew’s royal career is happening right now. According to the BBC, in 1999, Andrew started palling around with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died by suicide in prison earlier this year.
Beyond that, one woman, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has accused Prince Andrew of sexually abusing her when she was introduced to him via Epstein at age 17, People reported. Buckingham Palace has formally said that those allegations are false, but this story is currently ongoing. Most recently, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra severed ties with Prince Andrew, and he was asked to move his office out of Buckingham Palace, CNBC reports.
It’s important to note that, in November 2019, Prince Andrew “stepped back from his public duties for the foreseeable future,” according to his official bio.
Queen Elizabeth’s third son: Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Prince Edward is the youngest of Queen Elizabeth’s children, making him 11th in line for the throne. He was born March 10, 1964, when the Queen was 37. People say the youngest child gets the most love, and it definitely seems that holds true for Edward.
Edward also has a seemingly clean record and is a full-time royal. He holds two titles, the other being Earl of Forfar (in Scotland)—which he received for his birthday in 2018. (Now, that’s a bday gift.)
Prince Edward and his wife, Countess Sophie Rhys-Jones, are said to be the Queen and Prince Philip’s favorites, according to Town & Country. Maybe it’s because Prince Edward is the only child of theirs not to divorce. The couple married in 1999 and have two children together.
If the favoritism wasn’t already apparent, there are rumors Prince Edward will assume Prince Philip’s Duke of Edinburgh title when he dies, per Town & Country. Expect to see more of Edward in the future: He’s reportedly going to serve for Prince Philip now that the senior royal is stepping away from public life, according to CNN.
Watch the Earl of Wessex chat virtually with students at the Orpheus Centre in 2020.
As The Crown gets further into dramatizing the present-day life of the Royals, fans will get a front-row seat to see how these relationships will play out on screen. Already, it’s safe to say that the family might not be too happy with their portrayals. (Looking at you, Charles.)
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