Prince Harry’s broadside leaves senior royals bemused over his ‘woeful lack of compassion'

·6 min read
The Duke of Sussex speaks at 'Vax Live' in Inglewood, California, in early May. Prince Harry compared his life as part of the Royal family to being on 'The Truman Show' - Jordan Strauss/AP
The Duke of Sussex speaks at 'Vax Live' in Inglewood, California, in early May. Prince Harry compared his life as part of the Royal family to being on 'The Truman Show' - Jordan Strauss/AP

The Duke of Sussex’s broadside about the Prince of Wales has left senior royals bemused over his “woeful lack of compassion” for his own family, The Telegraph understands.

All three royal households were seemingly left reeling on Friday by the Duke’s suggestion that he had been failed not only by his own father but through association, by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh too.

One senior aide said it seemed “unnecessarily cruel” to “throw others under the bus” whilst trying to make a point about mental health.

Another royal source said: “For a couple that have been at pains to set out their compassionate principles, they seem woefully lacking when it comes to their own family.

“It’s not just the Prince of Wales but the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as well.

“It has been met with utter bemusement.”

There was particular bewilderment over Prince Harry’s implicit criticism of his grandparents, not least just a month after the Duke of Edinburgh’s death.

Questions were also raised about the Duke and Duchess’s continued use of their royal titles.

And aside from the highly personal content, royal sources suggested that the family was disappointed by the foul language used during the expletive-strewn 90-minute interview.

It was business as usual on Friday for the Prince of Wales on a visit to BCB International, a supplier of protective, medical and defence equipment, in Cardiff - Chris Jackson/WPA Pool/Getty Images
It was business as usual on Friday for the Prince of Wales on a visit to BCB International, a supplier of protective, medical and defence equipment, in Cardiff - Chris Jackson/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Duke, 36, told American actor Dax Shepard that his father had treated him “the way he was treated” as he revealed that he wanted to "break the cycle" of "genetic pain" for his own children.

He told the Armchair Expert podcast: “As parents we should be doing the most we can to say, you know what, that happened to me, I’m going to make sure it won’t happen to you.

“Isn’t life about breaking the cycle? There’s no blame. But certainly when it comes to parenting, if I have experienced some kind of pain or suffering because of the pain or suffering that perhaps my father, or my parents had suffered, I’m going to make sure I break that cycle so I don’t pass it on.”

Referring to his father's relationship with his own parents and Prince Philip’s desire to send the heir to the throne to Gordonstoun School in Scotland, later described by Prince Charles as “Colditz in kilts,” he said it all came down to awareness.

“Suddenly I started to piece it all together and go, OK so this is where he went to school, this is what happened, I know this bit about his life, I also know that’s connected to his parents,” he added.

“So that means he’s treating me to the way that he was treated which means… how can I change that for my own kids?

“And now here I am. I have moved my whole family to the US. That wasn’t the plan. But sometimes you have to make decisions and put mental health first.”

The Prince of Wales and Duke of Sussex in April 2019. The Prince appeared in the podcast to criticise his father’s parenting  - Samir Hussein/Getty Images
The Prince of Wales and Duke of Sussex in April 2019. The Prince appeared in the podcast to criticise his father’s parenting - Samir Hussein/Getty Images

His comments were met with bemusement not just at Clarence House but at Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace too, and are likely to further damage already fractured relations.

Prince Charles, 72, was said to be deeply saddened by the Sussexes’s Oprah Winfrey interview and the latest revelations make clear that the pair have not managed to clear the air.

While there is a genuine desire to build bridges with the couple, aides noted that it was impossible to rebuild something while someone kept chopping it down.

Prince Charles, who was carrying out a series of engagements in Wales on Friday, ignored questions about his son’s latest revelations. But privately, senior royals were questioning what might come next, describing the interview as just “the latest salvo” in a string of bitter recriminations.

The repeated battering of the institution has also prompted questions about why the couple continue to style themselves as Duke and Duchess, titles bestowed on them by the Queen.

Prince Harry said that privilege “gives you blinkers” and revealed he felt a deeper connection to the “emotionally free and systemic free people” he had worked with in Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada than those within the confines of the palace.

One aide asked why, if he considered himself no different to anyone else, he continued to use his royal title.

Concern was expressed that the couple had lost touch, apparently oblivious to the fact that the continued focus on their pain and suffering came at a time when millions had lost jobs and loved ones during a pandemic.

The Duke said during the interview that he did not consider it “complaining” but sharing his own vulnerabilities and experiences, because in doing so, he knew that it would have a positive impact on someone else’s life.

Having compared life in the Royal family to a cross between being on The Truman Show and being in a zoo, he said he realised during therapy that he needed to find a way to live his life differently.

“How are you going to make your mum proud?” he asked himself.

“How are you going to use this platform to really affect change and give people that confidence to change their own lives?”

The podcast was not the first time the Sussexes have criticised the Royal family whilst telling “their truth” during recent interviews.

It came just two months after the Sussexes’ televised interview with Winfrey, when they accused members of the Royal family of racism, claimed their pleas for help for the Duchess when she was suicidal fell on deaf ears, and claimed that the Duchess of Cambridge had made Meghan cry.

The Duke also said he felt “really let down” by his father.

The latest interview was undertaken to promote the Duke’s forthcoming AppleTV series about mental health, co-produced and co-presented with Winfrey.

Mr Shepard, who joined Winfrey to promote her latest book, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing, noted at the outset that his podcast would soon move to Spotify, the streaming giant with which the Sussexes have signed a lucrative deal.

When discussing his own upbringing, the Duke mentioned that in the documentary, called The Me You Cannot See, which launches on May 21, he further discusses parenting and “breaking the cycle” of pain.

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