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A New Documentary Sheds Light on How King Charles III’s Traumatic Childhood Is ‘Echoing’ Through Prince Harry

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Fans have often heard Prince Harry say that he’s “his mother’s son” in interviews, but a new National Geographic documentary, Charles: In His Own Words, directed and produced by Peabody and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Tom Jennings, is shedding light on the parallels between King Charles III and his estranged son — they both had difficult childhoods. Jennings hopes that the rare clips he assembled for the documentary put a spotlight on the challenges of being a member of the royal family and how Charles’ struggles as a child are “echoing through to Harry.”

Jennings explained to SheKnows that while Harry had tremendous love from his mother, Princess Diana, Charles suffered from a “distant mother” in Queen Elizabeth II because of her position and endured a “highly strained relationship with his father.” That’s where Jennings finds “the complexity of Charles” because he had a childhood where nothing [he] ever did was good enough” for Prince Philip. In many ways, Charles allowed history to repeat itself again through his relationship with the Duke of Sussex.

The documentary shows just how damaging some of Philip’s parenting was at times, believing that his oldest son was “just not good enough, but also not manly enough.” His first year at Scotland’s Gordonstoun School was a bit of a disaster for Charles. Jennings shares, “He gets beat up there because of who he is, and he has funny ears and is teased mercilessly and bullied. That doesn’t like man him up enough, according to Philip.” He was then sent to the Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, Australia, which Jennings describes as “much more rugged in the outback.”

Getty Images.

“He sends him there as this last gasp. Philip says, ‘I will put some steel into him, or I give up.’ And imagine you’re like, 16, 17 and your father is saying this about you publicly, privately, to your face,” Jennings adds. “I mean, that’s. That’s got to hurt, right?” So when the award-winning director pulled many of the media clips over the decades, he realized how that King Charles and Prince Harry share many of the same complexities.

“The deeper I got into this and the more I explored the media [archives] of [Charles], the much more complex he became,” he notes. Prince Harry has been in a firestorm of headlines ever since he and wife Meghan Markle left their senior royal roles, but that is very similar to what King Charles has experienced over the years — from becoming the Prince of Wales at the age of 19 to his affair with Queen Camilla.

‘Charles: In His Own Words’ $7.99

“Harry’s going through the scrutiny of living under the microscope and his father’s been going through it in cyclical waves,” Jennings says. It’s led him to believe that King Charles and Prince Harry’s lives have more similarities than differences even though a feud has given their relationship a widening gap. He concludes, “So, what Charles went through or what Harry is going through now, it just seems to be history repeating itself.”

Charles: In His Own Words is currently available on National Geographic and Hulu. It will begin airing on Friday, May 5, on Disney+.

Before you go, click here to find out which tell-all books expose major royal family secrets.
Finding Freedom, Lady in Waiting

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