In another revealing interview since leaving behind royal life, Prince Harry said he moved to the United States with his American wife, Meghan Markle, in part because he doesn’t want to rear his children in the way his father, Prince Charles, reared him, or in the way Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip brought up Charles.
“Isn’t life about breaking the cycle?” Harry, 36, said in Thursday’s episode of Dax Shepherd’s “Armchair Expert” podcast. “There’s no blame. I don’t think anyone should be pointing the finger and blaming anyone. Certainly, when it comes to parenting, if I’ve experienced some form of pain and suffering because of the pain and suffering that perhaps my father or parents suffered, I’m gonna make sure I break that cycle so that I don’t pass it on.”
As much as Harry said he doesn’t blame anyone, he already was being called out by the usual critics, including royal observers, for critiquing his father and his grandparents. Harry’s revelations Thursday follows the March 7 CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which he and Meghan accused the royal family of racism and being indifferent to Meghan’s mental health suffering.
The Duke of Sussex, father to 2-year-old son Archie, also told Winfrey that Charles stopped taking his phone calls after he and his former TV actress wife announced they were leaving royal duties in early 2020. Future king Charles also cut the couple off financially after they moved to California and allowed them to lose taxpayer-funded security.
The questions Harry raised about the royal family’s approach to parenting is nothing new. Descriptions of Queen Elizabeth being a “detached” mother because she was busy being monarch, or of Philip being “brusque” and “demanding” were shared in the Netflix series “The Crown,” and in numerous articles and books, including in Charles’ own authorized biography.
In the biography, Prince Philip was said by Charles’ friends to be “well-meaning” but also “belittling” and even “bullying,” with his forceful personality often leaving his sensitive oldest son intimidated, Vanity Fair reported.
Charles admitted in an interview that his father could be a tough disciplinarian, Vanity Fair added. Meanwhile, numerous accounts have described the way Philip sent his oldest son to different boarding schools to toughen him up. That included the famously rough-and-tumble Gordonstoun in Scotland, where Charles felt isolated, singled out for bullying and barred from pursuing his passion for theater.
As a father, Charles’s reputation suffered from his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, which contributed to his 1996 divorce from Princess Diana, the mother of Harry and his older brother, Prince William. A 2015 BBC documentary also detailed how Charles seriously needed to improve his reputation after the divorce and after Diana’s 1997 death, so he reportedly leaked denigrating stories about her and used the private struggles of William and Harry to improve his reputation as a caring father.
Harry, who also is expecting a daughter with Meghan this summer, offered a generous perspective of Charles, telling Shepherd and his co-host, Monica Padman, that his father had “suffered” because of his upbringing. He said his father “treated me the way he was treated.”
Harry talked about “the genetic pain and suffering that gets passed on, so we as parents should be doing the most we can to try and say, ‘You know what, that happened to me, I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.’”
Harry explained to Shepherd that he was never was aware of this cycle when he was growing up. He only began to realize it after he started therapy at Meghan’s urging because he was so “angry.”
“I never knew about it, and then suddenly I started to piece it together and go ‘OK, so this is where he went to school, this is what happened,” Harry said. “I know this about his life, I also know that is connected to his parents so that means he’s treated me the way he was treated, so how can I change that for my own kids.”
Harry explained that one way to break the cycle was to leave England.
“And here I am, I moved my whole family to the U.S., that wasn’t the plan but sometimes you’ve got make decisions and put your family first and put your mental health first,” he said.
Harry also admitted he first wanted to quit “The Firm” in his “early 20s” because of “what it did to my mum.” Diana shared her own harsh assessment’s of the royal family’s dysfunction in a1992 book by Andrew Morton, and in a famous 1995 BBC interview.
Harry’s 90-minute interview with Shepherd and Padman was to promote his Apple TV + mental health series with Winfrey, “The Me You Can’t See, which premieres May 21. The “Armchair Expert” podcast also is moving to Spotify, for which Harry and Meghan signed a multimillion deal to produce podcasts.
During the interview, Harry also called royal life “a mixture between ‘The Truman Show’ and being in a zoo.” He also attributed his “wild partying” in his youth to “childhood trauma.” That partying included experimenting with cannabis, drinking heavily and being photographed playing naked billiards in Las Vegas.