While Prince Charles is heir to the British throne and possesses all the prestige and power that entails, he’s just like many parents in one respect. Now that his sons are grown, he can’t control what they decide to do – as much as he may like to, anyway. And after Prince Harry made a monumental decision, it apparently left Charles with one major regret about his grandchild Archie.
Archie, of course, is the first child of Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle. And the couple, who originally met in the summer of 2016, have courted controversy in a way British royals rarely do. Practically every move that they make is scrutinized, too, in countless newspapers, magazines and websites.
But in some ways, Harry has been able to behave in a manner that his brother, Prince William, never could. And that’s down to the fact that William will almost certainly become king one day. As Charles’ eldest son, William will inherit the throne after his father, who himself will become monarch after his mother, the current Queen Elizabeth II.
As Charles’ second son, though, Harry – three years William’s junior – finds himself sixth in line to the throne. Harry’s father, brother and brother’s children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – are all ahead of him in the pecking order. And in all likelihood, the prince will never be king. Archie probably won’t become a monarch, either, although it’s not this that Charles allegedly regrets.
But regardless of whether he’ll ever rule, Harry has been thought of highly over the years. His penchant for mischief has made him one of the most popular members of the British royal family, in fact. In his younger days, the prince was well-known for his misadventures – behavior that was not typically associated with the formal reputation of the Windsors.
And Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, was arguably as much of a royal rule-breaker as her son would come to be. This may explain, too, why she somewhat fell out of favor with her in-laws once she and Charles had divorced. Famously, though, Diana was beloved across the world, with her death in 1997 prompting a practically unprecedented outpouring of grief internationally.
That said, Harry has been even more outlandish in his behavior. At 16 he reportedly used marijuana, while in 2005 he was pictured at a costume party wearing a Nazi uniform. He has also been photographed naked at a party in Las Vegas and has scuffled with a photographer on more than one occasion. So, does Charles regret having to eventually tell his grandson about Harry’s checkered past? Well, not quite – as far as we know, anyway.
Fortunately, Harry seemed to grow up after attending the U.K.’s prestigious Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and eventually becoming an army lieutenant. The prince went on to serve in the armed forces for ten years, in fact, and saw active service twice in Afghanistan.
Since leaving the army, meanwhile, Harry has dedicated his time to charitable causes. And his patronages are varied, too, with the prince supporting organizations that focus on animal conservation in Africa, children’s education programs, mental health organizations, services that support ex-servicemen and women and sporting programs. Perhaps most famously, Harry became the founder of the Invictus Games – a sporting event for active or retired servicemen and women who have been injured during duty.
And Harry’s charitable work mirrors that of his father. Yes, Charles has long been passionate about such endeavors and has established many support organizations throughout the years. His website attests to this, too, saying, “For over 40 years, the Prince of Wales has been a leader in identifying charitable need and setting up and driving forward charities to meet it.”
Some media outlets have claimed, though, that Charles and Harry share a complex relationship as father and son. And, reportedly, that’s also the case when it comes to Harry and his stepmother Camilla. Yet while Charles and Camilla are not seen as particularly popular members of the royal family, Harry has arguably been one of the British public’s favorites for a while now.
Indeed, in 2019 Harry was voted as the second most popular member of his family – behind only the Queen – in a survey conducted by market research firm YouGov. But things have arguably begun to change after the Duke of Sussex’s marriage to Meghan. As fans know, the two first met on a blind date back in 2016.
Harry and Meghan apparently became quickly smitten with each other, leading the prince to ask his love interest to accompany him on a holiday to Botswana. And the relationship blossomed from there, although it wasn’t until the Invictus Games of 2017 – more than a year later – that the couple were finally photographed together holding hands.
Still, the media scrutiny surrounding Harry and Meghan didn’t stop them from taking things to the next level. Yes, in November 2017 the prince proposed to the actress, presenting her with a ring made from diamonds that had once belonged to Diana.
And when Harry and Meghan finally tied the knot in May 2018, it became one of the biggest events of the year, with an estimated 1.9 billion people around the world tuning in to watch the ceremony on television. Further good news came five months later, when the newlyweds revealed that they were expecting their first child.
Then on May 6, 2019, Meghan gave birth to a baby boy named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. He became Queen Elizabeth II’s eighth grandchild and immediately entered the line of succession in seventh position. And it appeared that Harry was in love with his new son, describing Archie as “absolutely to die for.” Following Archie’s arrival, though, the prince and his wife made a series of decisions that left Charles facing that major regret.
But what of Harry’s own father? Well, with all the drama surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Charles has somewhat been left in the shuffle. The Prince of Wales has long been the only parent of both William and Harry after the passing of Diana in 1997 – although they do have a stepmother in Camilla.
Charles hasn’t expressed any dissatisfaction, either, with Harry and Meghan’s decision to step aside from royal duties – not publicly, anyway. But even so, the Prince of Wales has reportedly admitted that he has a big regret when it comes to his son and daughter-in-law’s relocation to the States. And, yes, it’s all to do with Archie.
You see, when Harry and Meghan announced their intention to start a new life, Archie was less than a year old. And, naturally, when a baby is so small, a grandfather often wishes to be close by to see the youngster or lend a hand to their parents. Now that Harry and his wife and child are based abroad, though, Charles is said to “personally regret the fact [that] he won’t see his son and family.”
That’s according to Nigel Cawthorne, who is the author of Prince Andrew, Epstein and the Palace. And he believes that Charles had been accepting of what Harry and Meghan were trying to do. “I think [the Prince of Wales] genuinely made an attempt to support what Harry and Meghan were looking for as long as it wouldn’t upset other HRHs,” Cawthorne told The Sun in July 2020.
In addition, Cawthorne claimed, Charles acknowledged that any efforts to influence his son would have been in vain. “In truth, however, there wasn’t a lot he could do apart from offering moral support,” the writer explained. Ultimately, then, Charles would’ve had to accept the decision.
Harry and Meghan had famously revealed back in January 2020 that they would eventually be moving from the U.K. That month, the couple explained through a press release, “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honor our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth and our patronages.”
As royal announcements go, this one was up there with the most shocking. What’s more, it seems that neither Charles nor William had been consulted about any of it. And with that, the couple packed up and headed off to Los Angeles weeks later, leaving the British media and public stunned.
The official response from Buckingham Palace was telling. “Discussions with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through,” the statement from the Queen’s residence read.
And, apparently, Harry and Meghan’s move has left Charles in a tricky position. According to Cawthorne, the heir to the throne intended to “slim down” the British royal family – referred to colloquially as “The Firm.” Originally, then, his youngest son and daughter-in-law would reportedly have been key figures in the new setup.
While speaking to the Daily Express in July 2020, Cawthorne said, “[Charles] was delighted with Meghan and, undoubtedly, would have continued to draw the Sussexes in more. [He] would have tried to expand their role within the Firm as much as could be expected. Of course, when [Harry and Meghan] decided to emigrate, all that had to come to an end.”
Why did Harry and Meghan make their controversial move? Well, some have speculated that it’s partly down to their treatment at the hands of the media. And the prince has been critical of the coverage of his new love almost from the start. Upon confirming his relationship in 2016, he even went so far as to describe the behavior of some elements of the press as “a wave of abuse and harassment.”
Yet Harry and Meghan haven’t always been camera-shy, as they sat down for an interview with the BBC soon after announcing their engagement. There, the two revealed details of their courtship, the proposal and their plans for the future. It was announced, for instance, that Meghan would give up acting and instead dedicate her time to charitable causes.
Naturally, the media continued to track Harry and Meghan after that, although the pair did make moves towards retaining some semblance of privacy. Unlike William and his wife, Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex wouldn’t be posing for photos outside the hospital with their new baby when he finally arrived.
Yet while Archie’s birth and subsequent christening were both clandestine affairs, this didn’t stop the royals from apparently experiencing further unwanted intrusion from the press. During the 2019 British TV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, the prince even drew parallels between his experience with the media and what his late mother, Diana, had encountered during her life.
Harry said of his mom, “Everything that she went through, and what happened to her, is incredibly important every single day. And that is not me being paranoid.” He added, “Part of this job is putting on a brave face, but for me and my wife, there is a lot of stuff that hurts – especially when the majority of it is untrue.”
Separately, Meghan also took legal action against the Daily Mail over the printing of a personal letter. And Harry only added further fuel to the fire when he claimed, in court documents, that his phone had been hacked by several newspapers.
Then, during the holiday period in 2019, the couple jetted off with Archie to Canada to enjoy an extended family break. And while there, they may have begun hatching plans for the future. In any case, Harry and Meghan were soon to drop a bombshell that would take everyone aback – even, reportedly, the prince’s own family.
Yes, Charles was allegedly blindsided by the news that his son would be eventually leaving the country – along with Meghan and Archie, of course. But even so, the Prince of Wales reportedly maintains a strong relationship with Harry. “Harry is and always has been incredibly close to his father. And nothing that has happened in the last few months has changed that,” a source close to the pair told The Sun.
The insider added, “Charles, in particular, felt that the work and causes Harry and Meghan were embarking on could be really served by remaining within the royal household. But like any loving father, now [that] Harry has made his decision, Charles is keen to support him.”
And during a recent trip to the U.K., Harry supposedly spent plenty of time with Charles. “Since Harry came back, he has seen his father, and they have discussed what Harry wants to do in the future. Harry hugely respects his father’s opinion and has welcomed the advice,” the Sun’s source further explained.
As a grandfather, it’s perfectly understandable that Charles will miss seeing Archie grow up for the most part. And while there may be plenty of visits to his grandson when time allows, the Prince of Wales will have to deal with the fact that he can’t just travel a few miles to get some family time anymore.
Harry and Meghan may well add to their brood in the future, too. And even though the couple have relinquished many of their royal duties, their every move will likely continue to be scrutinized – regardless of whether their frosty relationship with the press improves.
What this means for Charles, Harry and Archie is anyone’s guess. Yet only the hardest of hearts would wish to see a wedge driven between a grandfather, son and grandson. At least with the great wealth and prestige at the clan’s disposal, facilitating visits shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.
So, whatever lies in store for Meghan and Harry, they’ll undoubtedly remain in the public eye. And as the public will undoubtedly be eager to look at contemporary photos of Archie as he grows up, it’ll probably mean that Charles is only ever a phone-click away from seeing his grandson.
Charles is no stranger to technology, either, as in spring 2020 he made the unusual step of broadcasting live from his home using video-streaming. While fans were watching, though, one bizarre item in the background of the footage got everyone talking.
Whenever a prince or princess broadcasts from their own home, it’s often an exciting chance for people to sneak a peek inside a royal abode. But when fans tuned in to see Prince Charles video-chatting from his residence in April 2020, they got a little more than they bargained for. In fact, many royal watchers were surprised – perhaps a little disturbed – by the contents of one particular photo frame that sat on the heir to the throne’s shelves.
At the time, Charles was launching the new NHS Nightingale Hospital London – making him the first member of his family to ever do so via video link. He was communicating from his Scottish countryside residence of Birkhall, which is part of the Balmoral estate and used as a summer home by the prince and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
And the speech that Charles delivered from Birkhall was a moving one. Speaking to all those involved in the creation of the hospital, he remarked, “If I may say so, I was enormously touched to have been asked to open the Nightingale Hospital… It is without doubt a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work in every sense – from its speed of construction in just nine days, as we’ve heard, to its size and the skills of those who have created it.”
“[It is] an example, if any one was needed, of how the impossible could be made possible and how we could achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity,” Charles continued. “The creation of this hospital is above all the result of an extraordinary collaboration and partnership between NHS managers, the military and all those involved to create a center on a scale that has never been seen before in the United Kingdom.”
Speaking directly to the camera, the heir to the British throne continued, “On behalf of the nation, I want to say a very big thank you to the planners, the builders, the Armed Forces, the generous companies and organizations [that] have donated equipment and services and all the support staff who have made this possible.”
And, naturally, Charles thanked the people who’d be operating the hospital as well. “We are in an immense debt of gratitude to the doctors, the nurses, the technicians, the staff currently working in the health service and those coming out of retirement and the voluntary workers who will be working within it,” he said.
Charles also mentioned the historical figure who had given the new medical facility its moniker, adding, “The name of this hospital could not have been more aptly chosen. Florence Nightingale, the lady with the lamp, brought hope and healing to thousands in their darkest hour… It is symbolic of the selfless care and devoted service taking place in innumerable settings with countless individuals throughout the United Kingdom.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, as the wonders of modern technology can only do so much and I can’t quite reach, perhaps I could invite Nightingale’s head of nursing Natalie Gray on my behalf to unveil the plaque to declare NHS Nightingale Hospital open,” the prince concluded. The plaque was then revealed to warm applause.
And Charles’ words were largely received positively. One viewer responded to the address by writing on Twitter, “Listening to his speech, [he] came across as king in waiting. I sincerely hope this isn’t for many years, but when that day arrives, we will have a most worldly, wise, experienced, qualified king in our midst, and we should be grateful for this in years to come.”
Yet the speech wasn’t the only noteworthy aspect of the broadcast, as Charles’ video also gave fans a rare chance to pore over the interior of Birkhall – one of the most private of the British royal family’s properties. In fact, the home – which dates back to the 1700s – has only really been seen before on the 2018 BBC show Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70.
And when the documentary cameras went inside Birkhall, they allowed the audience a look at its interior decoration. Viewers noticed in particular that there were a lot of photographs of the prince and his family, with one snap having appeared to have been taken at the baptism ceremony of Prince Louis.
A few other details are known about Birkhall, though. Originally, the property belonged to Queen Victoria, and ever since then it’s been passed down through the royal family. In her youth, the Queen even used to vacation at Birkhall with her sister, Margaret. Then it became the Queen Mother’s residence until her death, upon which it was given to her grandchild Charles.
But even though Birkhall’s inner workings are largely kept under wraps, Charles did nonetheless discuss its gardens with Country Life magazine back in 2013. “It is such a special place – particularly because it was made by my grandmother,” he said. “It is a childhood garden, and all I’ve done, really, is enhance it a bit.”
The prince, who was actually the guest editor for that edition of Country Life, added, “My gardening style is to try to work with the spirit of the place and to have enough time to walk round and round until a vision of how it should be comes to me. Sometimes, I see it in a dream.”
The room from which Charles gave his Nightingale Hospital speech appeared, though, to be his rarely seen office in Birkhall. Keen-eyed royal watchers therefore scanned the background to see which photographs the Duke of Cornwall had deemed worthy of inclusion in the room. And there were quite a few dotted around, it transpired.
A photo subsequently released by Clarence House of Charles recording his speech also provided a good view of the office. And this snap contained a detail that viewers of the video wouldn’t have been able to see. It appears that Charles had fixed his tablet in place using a book he himself had written: Harmony: A New Way of Looking at the World.
And the Clarence House post also lets the curious take a closer look at the photos behind Charles. One depicted the Queen, Charles’ mother, as an infant back in the 1920s. Another was of the prince and his sister, Princess Anne – reportedly the sibling he likes the most – as children. That snap was taken when the royal family were holidaying in Malta in the mid-1950s, and the prince and princess happen to be wearing adorably coordinating clothing.
Other images appeared to be of the royal family on more public occasions. For instance, a photograph of Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry in military garb during a commemorative Royal Air Force event could be seen sitting on the Duke of Cornwall’s piano. Elsewhere, set aside from the other frames, there was a photo taken just after the prince’s 2005 marriage ceremony.
And some viewers may have been rather relieved to see a shot of Harry in the background, as his decision to step away from his family is said to have caused some dissent within the ranks. Famously, at the beginning of 2020, Harry and his wife, Meghan, revealed that they would effectively be retiring from royal duties. Instead, the couple would be dividing their lives between North America and the United Kingdom as they raised their son, Archie.
Unfortunately, though, Charles was said to be livid about the development. According to a January 2020 report by The Sun, an anonymous insider claimed that both the prince and his son William had been “incandescent with rage” about Harry’s announcement. Allegedly, the two royals also believed that they’d been “stabbed in the back” –especially as Harry apparently hadn’t hashed out any of the details of the move with his relatives.
That said, the tricky situation seems to have been resolved after some discussion. On January 13 the Queen released a statement that read, “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family.”
Then, after that, another anonymous source told The Sun, “Of course everybody, Prince Charles included, would rather that Harry and Meghan had remained as part of the royal family. Charles, in particular, felt that the work and causes Harry and Meghan were embarking on could be really served by remaining within the royal household.”
“But like any loving father, now Harry has made his decision Charles is keen to support him,” the insider continued. “Since Harry came back, he has seen his father, and they have discussed what Harry wants to do in the future. Harry hugely respects his father’s opinion and has welcomed the advice he has given him.”
And not only was Harry represented on his father’s office wall, but Meghan and Archie were as well. Another image showed the whole family together at Louis’ baptism – prior to Archie’s birth – with Meghan standing beside her husband. Atop the piano, there was also a shot of Charles with his youngest grandchild.
There were other interesting items within the prince’s office, including several expensive-looking ornaments. Also seen in view were flowers – probably from the garden – and a photograph of Charles’ niece Zara Tindall riding her horse. But alongside these items was something rather strange.
During the video broadcast, a mysterious image appeared right behind Charles. This seemed to be a monochrome silhouette in a frame, although someone could also have been cut out of a picture. Maybe it was an artistic statement of some kind? Regardless, Twitter immediately got on the case. And, of course, jokes soon followed.
Writer Richard Littler took it upon himself to tweet a close-up picture of the mysterious frame, captioned simply with the words “What the…” Then, in reply to the post, people shared Photoshopped memes where the empty space was replaced with something amusing. Images of Tiger King star Joe Exotic and actor Tom Baker were pasted into the void, for example, as well as an unflattering picture of Prince Philip.
However, some attempted to crack the mystery. A reply to Littler read, “If you look closely, there seems to be a faint pencil drawing in that frame – in this pic at least.” Maybe it was a child’s doodle that didn’t show up well on camera? And another individual offered probably the simplest explanation: “Did Charles forget to put a picture in the frame?”
“Prince Charles currently giving a speech,” another social media user wrote. “Empty photo frame in the background? Is this for the lost siblings within the ranks?” This could have been a reference to Charles having a secret twin brother – a jokey plot point in British satirical royal sitcom The Windsors.
Another person quipped, on the other hand, that the empty picture frame depicted “just one of the vampire ancestors.” And, yes, there really is a conspiracy theory that Charles is a vampire. Apparently, he’s a distant relative of Vlad the Impaler – the nightmarish figure who was the real-life basis for Dracula. The prince has also happily talked up Transylvania as a tourist destination in the past.
And the Twitter jokes became weirder and weirder. One person jested, “What many people don’t realize is HRH Prince Charles is trapped inside a picture frame for 70 percent of his life and is only released under the orders of the Queen.” Another wrote, “Something climbed out of that photo and is in the world now. It’s out there. Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
One of the recurring responses was that either Harry or Meghan had been edited out of the photograph – even though, judging by the contents of the rest of the room, that seemed unlikely to be the case. Yet there had been a royal occasion not long beforehand in which the Sussexes were notable by their absence.
In 2019 the Queen delivered her usual Christmas speech to the nation. And just as with Charles’ later broadcast, the monarch was filmed surrounded with family photos. Noticeably, though, none of these images showed Harry, Meghan or Archie.
And during the previous Christmas address, there had been visible pictures on a table of both Harry and Meghan. So, upon seeing that there were no such snaps present for the 2019 speech, some onlookers concluded that this must have been a snub of some kind. Arguments broke out online, in fact, with a number of people claiming that the Queen was sending a coded message about an apparent feud.
Royal expert Ingrid Seward also weighed in on the matter when she spoke to the Daily Mirror in December 2019. On that occasion, Seward claimed that the photographs arranged for the Queen’s speech seemed to “represent the idea of a slimmed-down monarchy” and that “all the media problems with Harry and Meghan must have worried [the Queen].” Even so, the commentator went on, the monarch “would never be so underhand as to deliberately omit their picture.”
And to be fair, the Queen did reference baby Archie in her Christmas speech. “Two hundred years on from the birth of my great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, Prince Philip and I have been delighted to welcome our eighth great-grandchild into our family,” she said. “Of course, at the heart of the Christmas story lies the birth of a child: a seemingly small and insignificant step overlooked by many in Bethlehem.”
Yet the problem of the missing photographs came up again when Harry and Meghan announced their intention to step down as senior royals. “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were missing from the Queen’s 2019 Christmas speech,” a fan wrote on Twitter. “Some said it was because… only heirs were [on] display. Now we understand clearly why.”
And anonymous sources who spoke to the media claimed that the absence of any photos of Harry and Meghan from the broadcast had caused strife within the royal family. An insider told The Times that the couple had felt ostracized and had “taken the same message from the fact that there were no images among the framed photographs on the Queen’s desk when she delivered her Christmas Day message.”
Of course, everything now seems to be fine in that department. According to royal observer Katie Nicholl, who spoke to Entertainment Tonight in May 2020, Harry and Meghan had “settled into their [new] lives” in Los Angeles and were now in regular friendly contact with William in particular.
So, maybe the Queen wasn’t sending out any sort of coded message with her omission of Harry and Meghan at all. And, presumably, Charles isn’t signaling anything, either, with the strange blank picture he keeps in his office. On the other hand, if it later turns out that he really is a vampire, a lot of people will be saying “Told you so…”