Inside Queen Elizabeth's Complicated Relationships With Her Children

Kayla Keegan
Photo credit: Fox Photos

From Good Housekeeping

  • Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are parents to four children — Prince Charles, 71, Princess Anne, 69, Prince Andrew, 59, and Prince Edward, 55.

  • Her Majesty's relationship with her kids is a topic explored in season 3 of the Netflix series The Crown.

Besides being the Queen of England and Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty also is a mom to three sons — Prince CharlesPrince Andrew, and Prince Edward — and one daughter, Princess Anne. As you can imagine, raising four children and being a reigning monarch wasn't easy. As a result, her relationship with her kids has been very complex and varied from child to child:

Prince Charles, 71, Prince of Wales

The heir to the throne was born on November 14, 1948. At the time, Elizabeth was not yet the Queen of England. But even still, she was often away from the Prince of Wales during his infancy. After celebrating her son's first birthday, she went abroad and began spending long intervals of time away from him, according to Vanity Fair. And after she was coronated in 1953, the Queen's schedule became even more hectic.

Photo credit: PA Images

Sally Bedell Smith, a royal biographer and author of Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life, writes that the Queen "depended on the nannies to supervise the daily lives" of her kids during this time.

Philip was also away for much of Charles's younger years. While Charles was a kid, his father left for a six-month Commonwealth trip after Her Majesty's coronation. Nonetheless, he did have strong opinions when it came to how his son should act. Charles, at an early age, was extremely shy and often found himself getting bullied by other school boys.

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Believing that Charles was too sensitive, Philip sent the future king to his alma mater boarding school in Scotland called Gordonstoun.

As Charles got older, his relationship with his mother got even more complicated, especially after marrying Princess Diana in 1981. When Queen Elizabeth II got wind of Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles's affair while he was still married, Her Majesty got so upset with Charles that she allegedly shouted that she wanted "nothing to do with that wicked woman." For a while, the Queen appeared to be punishing Charles. She sent him to St. James and even skipped her son's 50th birthday.

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Over time though, the Queen forgave Charles and the two repaired their bond. Charles went on to marry Camilla in 2005 and has since earned his mother's approval. In case there was any doubt about the Queen and Charles's relationship, in April 2018 she declared that it was her "sincere wish" that Charles be the future Head of the Commonwealth.

Princess Anne, 69, Princess Royal

Two years later on August 15, Elizabeth and Philips welcomed their first and only daughter Princess Anne. The Princess Royal, as she would later be known as, got along well with her mother when she was a teenager. In an interview with the BBC, Princess Anne admitted that her mom had "limitations" with the amount of time she got to spend with her and her siblings. But, as she went on, that didn't mean she wasn't a caring mother.

Photo credit: Central Press

Like Charles, Anne is believed to have experienced Philip's tough parenting style habits. But she, unlike Charles, was apparently more extroverted and didn't mind Philip's "belittling" as much as her brother.

Growing up, Anne was never a fan of any of the jewels and tiaras that came with being a princess. She had always been much more into outdoor sports like equestrianism than fancy parties and ballroom gowns. As Prince Philip once hilariously said about her, "if it doesn't fart or eat hay, she isn't interested."

Anne even competed in the 1976 Olympic Games and has won awards from various tournaments over the years. Today, she serves as the president of the British Olympic Association.

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When she was 24, Anne found herself in the middle of a kidnap plot. A 26-year-old man named Ian Ball ambushed the Princess Royal's car in attempt to capture her for a reward of £2 million pounds. But the Princess refused to get out of the car and acted with "quite extraordinary courage and presence of mind," according to Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

Today, Princess Anne known is known for her hard work in the name of the crown. When totaling up the number of royal engagements per year, Princess Anne is constantly listed as one of the busiest royals, according to People.

She is now married to Sir Timothy Laurence (after being previously married to Captain Mark Phillips from 1973-1992). From her first marriage, she has two children — Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips.

Photo credit: Mark Cuthbert

Prince Andrew, 59, Duke of York

Ten years after giving birth to Princess Anne and 12 after Charles, Queen Elizabeth had another son in 1960. By this time, according to a Town & Country interview with royal historian Robert Lacy, the Queen was "warmer and flexible." This meant that she inevitably spent more time with her kids and "stepped back" a bit from her royal duties.

Photo credit: Stringer

The Duke of York was educated by a governess before attending Heatherdown School in Ascot and eventually, like his brother and father, Gordonstoun. After graduating, Andrew went straight into the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth.

He also undertook fixed wing flying training within the Royal Navy Elementary Flying Training Squadron at Royal Air Force. The prince went on to serve on the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible. When a war broke out after Argentina invaded British territories overseas in the early 1980s, Andrew flew several missions until the conflict was resolved. Because of his service, the Queen often felt a "surge of maternal pride" and regarded him as a hero, according to the Daily Mail.

In 1986, Andrew married Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey. Together, they have two daughters — Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. Their marriage came to an end ten years later though. Fergie cited Andrew's intense naval traveling schedule as one of the reasons behind their divorce.

Though the Queen now accepts both Andrew and Sarah, their relationship created tension between her and her son. The Queen was reportedly "furious" about a lot of Fergie's behavior when the two were married. Still, the Queen always sought to take her son's side through their separation.

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Besides their short-lived marriage, Andrew has been at the center of a much bigger scandal. Most recently, he has made headlines for his former ties to convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, who took his own life in August while awaiting trial for sex-trafficking charges. One of Jeffrey's accusers, Virginia Giuffre, alleged she was forced to have sex with Andrew three times. The Duke has denied any form of sexual contact or relationship with her.

On November 20, the Duke of York announced he would be "stepping back" from his public duties.

"It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family's work and the valuable work going on in the many organizations and charities that I am proud to support," the statement read. "I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein."

Prince Edward, 55, Earl of Wessex

Prince Edward, the last child of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, was born on March 10, 1964. By this time, the Queen had settled into her role and, like with Prince Andrew, spent a lot more time with him in his younger years. Out of all of the kids, Prince Edward, now known as the Earl of Wessex, is believed to be the Queen and Prince Philip's favorite child. In fact, it's reported that Edward's portrait is the only one in Philip's study.

Photo credit: PA Images

Body language experts previously told GoodHousekeeping.com that it's obvious that Edward is the Queen's "precious little boy." Why? Partly because the Queen is especially close with his wife, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, who he married on June 19, 1999. The two are still happily together and have two children — Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.

"She is like another daughter to Her Majesty, they are that close," a royal insider told the Daily Mail.

Photo credit: Getty

The Queen also allegedly really trusts Edward to carry out royal duties without any complaining. After a short-lived television production career and time in the Royal Marines, Edward now carries out royal engagements that used to belong to his father, who is officially retired. He is expected to take on the Duke of Edinburgh title when Philip passes away, according to The Sunday Times.

"Edward has molded into a quiet and efficient figure who does not seek attention or acquire headlines," another insider revealed to Express.

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