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Prince Philip and Prince Charles’ Complicated Relationship: Honor, Loyalty and Tangling Over Life Choices

Prince Philip and Prince Charles’ Complicated Relationship: Honor, Loyalty and Tangling Over Life Choices

What are dads for, if not to advise their sons on how to get their jollies without embarrassing the family?

Prince Philip had those words of wisdom for his son, Prince Charles, when the hopelessly not-in-love future king sought his father’s counsel about what he, as a man married to one woman but wanting to be with another, should do.

“My father-in-law said to my husband, ‘If your marriage doesn’t work out, you can always go back to her after five years,'” Princess Diana recapped their exchange, as revealed in a 2017 Channel 4 special that utilized taped private conversations between the Princess of Wales and her voice coach. “Which is exactly—I mean, for real I knew that it had happened after five—I knew something was happening before that but the fifth year I had confirmation.”

Former royal butler Paul Burrell wrote in his 2003 book A Royal Duty, “Both the Prince and the Princess were told that they must learn to compromise, be less selfish and try to work through their difficulties for the sake of the monarchy, their children, the country and its people.”

But as the world knows, Diana wasn’t willing to be in a marriage of three forever, and Charles wasn’t willing to quit Camilla Parker Bowles, so the old-fashioned way more common to the days of Philip’s youth went by the wayside in 1992, when Charles and Diana—not content just to live separate lives—actually separated.