Heritage

How Prince Philip's Tragic Childhood Affected His Relationship With His Son, Prince Charles

Prince Philip was separated from his family at an early age, and later lost his sister in a plane crash.
IMAGE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Comments

It’s no secret that Prince Charles’s relationship with his father Prince Philip is flawed. In the past, the heir to the British throne has described his father as “harsh” and “hectoring."

Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, admits that he and his son are as different as can be. In 2016, Philip spoke with royal biographer Gyles Brandreth and recognized that Charles is “a romantic, and I’m a pragmatist. That means we do see things differently. And because I don’t see things as a romantic would, I’m unfeeling.”  

Embed from Getty Images
Prince Philip and Prince Charles during Charles's first day at Gordonstoun.

The disparities in their character and upbringing may have taken a toll on their relationship. Philip, who hardly knew his father and was separated from his family at an early age, may have had no sense of belonging early on. He grew up being neither warm nor affectionate and this was maybe partly be because he had a tough childhood.

“When he needed a father, there just wasn’t anybody there,” his press secretary and close friend Mike Parker said.

Philip moved from country to country, with not a soul to confide in. That may have prompted him to put up emotional barriers while growing up. Apart from being separated from his parents, he lost many loved ones at an early age. His sister, Cecile, died in a plane crash along with her Nazi husband and two small children, and later that year, his uncle and his guardian, the Marquess of Milford Haven, passed away too.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Embed from Getty Images

Philip attended the Cheam School in the U.K. before moving to Germany in the 1930s. Months later, he moved to Scotland and studied at the Gordonstoun School. While there, he channeled his energy and emotions into physical activities, such as sports and plays. During his five years there, no one ever came to visit him, according to Independent writer Fiammetta Rocco.

Embed from Getty Images
Philip as a young boy

Eventually, Philip joined the Royal Naval College, where he learned to put duty before everything else. It was during his time there that he met a 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth, who was touring the college grounds with her parents. When World War II broke out, Philip fought on the British side. He has always identified as British.

At the age of 26, Philip married the young princess. He knew fully well he was marrying into another institution. It was there that he found a sense of stability and security. Rocco writes in 1992 that Philip had little to no identity to lose when he married into the British royal family. He had no birthright, no home, no nationality, and no religion coming into the marriage, which possibly made it easier for him to renounce his Greek titles. He also utilized his sense of duty by devoting his life to serving the monarchy. Parker tells the Independent journalist, “He told me the first day he offered me my job that his job, first, second, and last, was never to let her down.”

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Indeed, Philip done a fine job as the royal consort. His retirement this year is well-deserved, but historians agree that he wasn’t much of a father figure–at least not to his firstborn. Philip was the reason Charles attended Gordonstoun, his father's alma mater, which the son hated. He later described it as a "prison sentence," where he was a target for bullies. Charles has also blamed his father for his marriage to Diana, which was doomed from the start.

Embed from Getty Images

Both Elizabeth and Philip were away during Charles’s and Anne’s formative years. It was a crucial time for the crown when Elizabeth ascended to the throne, and Philip provided the utmost support to his wife. Charles was about four years old at the time, and many reports have stated that Charles grew up spending most of the time with his nannies and the Queen Mother.

It seems as if history repeated itself. Charles grew up without a loving father figure in his life, just as his father had.

Embed from Getty Images
The Queen touring Gordonstoun with her son, Prince Edward during his time as head boy at the school.

Comments
About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Senior Staff Writer
Hannah is a communications graduate from Ateneo de Manila University. She’s originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
View Other Articles From Hannah
Comments
Latest Stories
 
Share
Cheers to the days when beautiful celebrities didn't take themselves too seriously.
 
Share
The Princess's mother loved that Eugenie was able to make a statement with her dress.
 
Share
Her son's name, which was reportedly revealed over the weekend, is a nod to Prince William as well.
 
Share
 
Share
This year, give a gift that's (almost) as glamorous as her.
 
Share
From the spectacular dishes at our 61 partner restaurants to our fabulous guests who partied way past midnight at Sage.
 
Share
In a quest to become as eco-friendly as possible, the Prince has discovered a new level of luxury transit.
 
Share
Take a peek inside the most sought-after suite at this fabulous Croatian retreat.
 
Share
The golden-haired founder of Steps Dance celebrates a milestone.
 
Share
Prince Charles laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in honor of those who have died in war.
 
Share
The Palace just released this sweet photo of Louis and his grandpa Prince Charles.
 
Share
The Queen's Gallery is hosting a new survey of artworks gifted between the two monarchies.
Load More Articles
CONNECT WITH US