Don’t Make Charles Jealous, King’s Friends Warn Prince William
Friends of the royals have cautioned that competition between King Charles and his son and heir Prince William could trigger Charles’ well-documented jealous streak, after William appeared to criticize his family’s habit of taking on “loads of causes that you sort of turn up and keep an eye on.”
While some insiders sought to play down any sense of a rift or jealousy between the courts of William and the king, one royal friend said that William needs “to be careful not to wake the green-eyed monster,” referring to the king’s well-documented jealous streak.
The friend of the king and Queen Camilla said: “William is entitled to make these comments, which, frankly, are pretty unremarkable, but part of the reason the marriage with Camilla has worked so well is that she understands that Charles is the star. William has to be careful not to wake the green-eyed monster.”
Charles’ jealousy was cited by Princess Diana as a source of conflict between her and Charles in her Panorama interview with Martin Bashir—and was also dramatized in The Crown. She said: “We’d be going round Australia, for instance, and all you could hear was, ‘Oh, she’s on the other side.’ Now, if you’re a man, like my husband, a proud man, you mind about that if you hear it every day for four weeks…With the media attention came a lot of jealousy, a great deal of complicated situations arose because of that.”
Harry also gave an insight into Charles’ jealousy in his memoir Spare, writing: “Pa and Camilla didn’t like Willy and Kate drawing attention away from them or their causes. They’d openly scolded Willy about it many times.”
Harry recalled a visit by Kate to a tennis club on the same day as Charles had an engagement, saying: “Pa’s press officer berated Willy’s team,” and ordered that Kate not be photographed holding a tennis racquet. Harry wrote: “Such a winning, fetching photo would undoubtedly wipe Pa and Camilla off the front pages. And that, in the end, couldn’t be tolerated.”
A friend of William’s, however, denied the comments would spark conflict with the king and said William was just making it clear that he didn’t intend to take on “500 patronages.”
“William is in no hurry to be king. This is not him parking his tanks on his dad’s lawn.”
— Friend of Prince William
The friend of William’s told The Daily Beast: “William is in no hurry to be king. This is not him parking his tanks on his dad’s lawn. William and Catherine have three children, the eldest of them is ten, and that’s very much their priority.
“They are totally focused on maximizing impact and always have been. He was just saying that having 500 patronages isn’t how he is going to do things, which I think is fair enough. Any idea that he is attacking his dad is just rubbish.”
What happened this week was that, by an unhappy accident, Prince William’s long-standing engagement to present the Earthshot Prize on Tuesday became the subject of a diary clash after a decision made in October, by the government, to kick off a new legislative session of Parliament on Tuesday as well. New legislative sessions are always begun with the monarch reading out a speech written for them by the government, which used to be known, under Queen Elizabeth, as the queen’s speech.
After 72 years, the return of the king’s speech was not something the British newspapers were going to skimp on covering, especially given the prominence the phrase has developed since the success of the 2010 film starring Colin Firth of the same name.
On Tuesday, the signs were that William, in Singapore, had accepted that this was just the way the cookie had crumbled on this occasion. His event received some coverage, but arguably less than it might have done were it not for that iconic royal first unfolding on the same day back home. He certainly did nothing to upstage his father (unlike Harry, who released a video in support of veterans just hours before his father started speaking—but Harry’s unpredictable interventions are largely priced into royal calculations these days).
On Wednesday, however, William made his off-the-cuff comments to the traveling media, catching many by surprise with his unusually frank repudiation of the royal habit of attaching their names to hundreds of causes (Prince Philip had over 800 charities, Queen Elizabeth II was patron of over 500, and Charles had 420 when he ascended the throne) to help them raise their profile—and money.
William said: “I care about so many things. Previously the family have been very much spotlighting, brilliantly, and going round and highlighting lots (of causes)…I want to go a step further. I want to actually bring change.”
He then added what sounded like an explicit rejection of the existing royal way of doing business, saying: “You have to remain focused; if you spread yourself too thin you just can’t manage it and you won’t deliver the impact or the change that you really want to happen… it’s kind of going deeper and longer, than it is the case of just having loads of causes that you sort of turn up and keep an eye on.”
Palace sources sought to play down the incident. While the king’s office and William’s office did not respond to requests for comment, one courtier said the comments were not designed as a headline-grabbing intervention, but were in fact made as part of a casual meet and greet with the print media. This is a carrot that is often afforded media traveling on foreign trips to encourage attendance.
Nonetheless, the week’s busy schedule of royal events have pointed up the inevitable tensions attending the existence of two powerful, independent courts in the heart of the royal establishment, each with their own schedules and priorities.
“He wants nothing more than for William to start thinking about what his reign is going to look like. What matters more than anything to Charles now is the strength of the institution.”
— Friend of King Charles
While William’s comments stirred up the prospect of a jealous Charles for some, another friend of King Charles denied William’s comments would annoy Charles, telling The Daily Beast: “The model is his mother [Queen Elizabeth II]. His mother allowed Charles the freedom to do what he wanted as Prince of Wales and, especially in the last years of her life, he was king in all but name.
“That model worked very well as it ensured continuity between the reigns. People will no doubt want to suggest he is jealous of William, but that’s just media rubbish. He wants nothing more than for William to start thinking about what his reign is going to look like. What matters more than anything to Charles now is the strength of the institution.”
Asked whether they thought there was any truth in the well-known accusations of jealousy made against Charles by Princess Diana and Prince Harry, the friend said: “Yes, but it’s not his personal ego. The problems have arisen when he feels the work is overshadowed. I don’t think, looking at the first year of Charles’ reign, anyone could say the collaboration between William and Charles has been anything other than a massive success.”
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