Prince Harry’s heartbreaking slap down of dad Prince Charles
Thursday - 21/05/2020 09:52
The royal family might have deliberately left the door open for Prince Harry, but he seems intent on kicking it shut, one interview at a time.
Prince Charles has been called many things but there is one aspect that often gets overlooked – he is a pretty good dad.
Sure, the now 71-year-old has not been perfect – when eight-year-old Prince William ended up needed surgery after being hit in the head with a gold club in 1991, Charles stuck to his plans to attend the opera – but he’s a man whose ardent love for his sons is there if you look.
In 1994 his Christmas card showed the future King, sitting happily in a field of flowers with his sons, his arm around Harry.
For the 1995 shot, the Prince of Wales sat on a bench while William and Harry playfully popped out of pots and in the 1998 version, Harry sits on Charles’ knee and in 1999, the card showed Charles with his arms lovingly around his sons’ shoulders (the less said about the particularly naff image of the royal trio posing on a tree the better).
In an image commissioned to mark Prince Harry’s 20th birthday in 2004, the three men are caught mid-joke, the warmth and comfort self-evident.
I could go on, but there are many, many more shots of Charles and his sons in this charming, heartwarming ilk, all bearing the sort of familiarity and tenderness that can’t be forged.
So consider what the scene must have been like in the breakfast room at Charles’ Scottish retreat when he opened the papers to discover that Harry has a new “Dad” in his life.
This week, American Idol runner-up and singer Katharine McPhee told Access Hollywood that her husband, music supremo David Foster, “has a really, really beautiful relationship with Harry.
They’re like, they’re so cute. They’re like father and son”.
McPhee’s connection with the Sussexes can be traced back to the 90s when she attended Immaculate Heart, the same Los Angeles private school as Meghan did.
They were in different years and McPhee has said the two were “never really close friends”. However, the American duo reconnected in London in 2019 when they attended the same event where McPhee has said that she and Foster “put ourselves in a position where we could at least say hello and [the Sussexes] were really gracious”.
Clearly that moment was the beginning of a beautiful, very useful new friendship.
Earlier this year it was revealed that Foster had arranged for Harry and Meghan to borrow an unnamed, clearly super wealthy benefactor’s $20 million Vancouver Island mansion for four months, gratis.
Which brings us to McPhee’s most recent comments which one suspects that Charles would have not found “so cute”.
Over the last two years, Charles has given his son and daughter-in-law a lavish wedding, helped them set up an independent office and provided them with millions and millions of pounds. It is believed that the Prince of Wales is still shoring the Sussexes up financially, even after their swift and turbulent departure from official royal life earlier this year.
Assuming McPhee’s quotes accurately reflect the closeness between Harry and Foster, then the Duke of Sussex supplanting his generous father with a former reality star from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is not exactly the best way to express his thanks for all those lovely seven-figure cheques.
Then there are the more personal, emotional connotations here.
If Foster has become a father figure to the 35-year-old royal (who is only one year younger than McPhee) then that would suggest there was a position vacant. Implicit in this would be the suggestion that Charles has somehow failed his younger son and that Harry needed to turn to Foster for some sort of unspecified paternal succour.
Lastly, it is hard to see how this furore will do anything but damage the already strained trans-Atlantic relations between the Sussexes and the royal family as a whole.
When Harry and Meghan bowed out of royal life on March 31st this year, the Queen left a door open for them to return, specifically stating Harry would not be replaced in his prized military roles for a year. When public relations storms such as this hit, inadvertently or not, it feels like the Sussexes are kicking that door shut, inch by inch.
Asked during a 90s TV documentary about qualities he hoped his sons would have Charles opined, “on the whole, do unto others as you’d have them do unto you, which is not a bad way of trying to operate.” I’m not sure how successful he was at teaching that particular lesson.
Daniela Elser is a royal expert and writer with 15 years experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.