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The Queen dies: Elizabeth II's relationships with her children Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward

Queen Elizabeth II was known for her unfailing sense of duty, but alongside her 70 years of service to her country, her other most important role was as a mother. 

It was announced this week that the royal, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, has died at the age of 96. 

But while she was the most famous woman on earth, and Britain’s anchor, to others she was a parent – a wife to Prince Philip and a mother to their four children. 

Giving birth to her first child at the age of just 22, she stepped into motherhood early, but her attention was inevitably divided when she became Queen at just 25-years-old.   

Though the Queen continued to work hard, studying official papers and carrying out numerous engagements, the long overseas tours she embarked on when her own children were young became a thing of the past.   

Charles, formerly Prince of Wales who is now King, once remarked that when he was young, he virtually had to make an appointment to see his mother, and spoke of being raised by nannies. 

But despite rumours of a previous coolness between mother and son, relations seemed to thaw in more recent years, with the Queen increasingly placing an emphasis on family in her speeches.  

At Cop26 in November 2021, in what was one of her final public speeches, she spoke about her family when discussing the importance of action against climate change, saying: ‘We are doing this not for ourselves but for our children and our children’s children, and those who will follow in their footsteps.’ 

And at her Platinum Jubilee, Charles paid tribute to his ‘Mummy’ and described how ‘you laugh and cry with us and, most importantly, you have been there for us’ in a moving, personal tribute to Britain’s longest-serving head of state after the Buckingham Palace concert. 

 Here, FEMAIL reveals the changing dynamic between the monarch and her children…

The Queen dies Elizabeth II039s relationships with her children Charles

Queen Elizabeth II was known for her unfailing sense of duty, but alongside her 70 years of service to her country, her other most important role was as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to a sprawling royal dynasty (pictured, the royal’s family tree) 

Giving birth to her first child at the age of just 22, the Queen stepped into motherhood early, but wore her role well, becoming the head of her family as well as her country

Giving birth to her first child at the age of just 22, the Queen stepped into motherhood early, but wore her role well, becoming the head of her family as well as her country

Prince Charles once remarked that when he was young, he virtually had to make an appointment to see his mother, and spoke of being raised by nannies

Prince Charles once remarked that when he was young, he virtually had to make an appointment to see his mother, and spoke of being raised by nannies

Giving birth to her first child at the age of just 22, the Queen stepped into motherhood early, but wore her role well, becoming the head of her family as well as her country (left, in 1948). Charles once remarked that when he was young, he virtually had to make an appointment to see his mother, and spoke of being raised by nannies (right, the royal family in 1972) 

The Queen, pictured as she made her final appearance in public as she travelled from Windsor to Balmoral for her annual summer break, has died aged 96

The Queen, pictured as she made her final appearance in public as she travelled from Windsor to Balmoral for her annual summer break, has died aged 96

The Queen, pictured as she made her final appearance in public as she travelled from Windsor to Balmoral for her annual summer break, has died aged 96 

FOUR CHILDREN  

CHARLES, FORMERLY PRINCE OF WALES, NOW KING 

Almost a year after their wedding, Elizabeth and Philip celebrated the birth of their first child

Almost a year after their wedding, Elizabeth and Philip celebrated the birth of their first child

Mother and eldest son Prince Charles, in 1959, heading to London Airport to meet the Duke of Edinburgh

Mother and eldest son Prince Charles, in 1959, heading to London Airport to meet the Duke of Edinburgh

Almost a year after their wedding, Elizabeth and Philip celebrated the birth of their first child. Now the Prince of Wales, he was born on the evening of November 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace. Right, mother and son in 1959

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her son Charles in the gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on June 30, 2022

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her son Charles in the gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on June 30, 2022

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her son Charles in the gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on June 30, 2022

During his speech, Charles was sat at an antique polished desk in Buckingham Palace's Blue Drawing Room, one of the grand state rooms, where the Queen would sometimes film her Christmas broadcasts. To the King's left was a framed photograph of his late mother the Queen, smiling broadly and wearing a vivid blue coat and matching hat decorated with a red flower

During his speech, Charles was sat at an antique polished desk in Buckingham Palace's Blue Drawing Room, one of the grand state rooms, where the Queen would sometimes film her Christmas broadcasts. To the King's left was a framed photograph of his late mother the Queen, smiling broadly and wearing a vivid blue coat and matching hat decorated with a red flower

During his speech, Charles was sat at an antique polished desk in Buckingham Palace’s Blue Drawing Room, one of the grand state rooms, where the Queen would sometimes film her Christmas broadcasts. To the King’s left was a framed photograph of his late mother the Queen, smiling broadly and wearing a vivid blue coat and matching hat decorated with a red flower 

Almost a year after their wedding, Elizabeth and Philip celebrated the birth of their first child. The man who would become the Prince of Wales was born on the evening of November 14, 1948, at Buckingham Palace. The Queen was 22 years old.

For the first time since the 18th century, there was no government minister present at the birth of a future heir to the throne.

Charles III’s speech in full 

‘I speak to you today with feelings of profound sorrow. Throughout her life, Her Majesty The Queen – my beloved Mother – was an inspiration and example to me and to all my family, and we owe her the most heartfelt debt any family can owe to their mother; for her love, affection, guidance, understanding and example.

‘Queen Elizabeth was a life well lived; a promise with destiny kept and she is mourned most deeply in her passing. That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today.

‘Alongside the personal grief that all my family are feeling, we also share with so many of you in the United Kingdom, in all the countries where The Queen was Head of State, in the Commonwealth and across the world, a deep sense of gratitude for the more than 70 years in which my Mother, as Queen, served the people of so many nations.

‘In 1947, on her 21st birthday, she pledged in a broadcast from Cape Town to the Commonwealth to devote her life, whether it be short or long, to the service of her peoples. That was more than a promise: it was a profound personal commitment which defined her whole life. She made sacrifices for duty.

‘Her dedication and devotion as Sovereign never waivered, through times of change and progress, through times of joy and celebration, and through times of sadness and loss.

‘In her life of service we saw that abiding love of tradition, together with that fearless embrace of progress, which make us great as Nations. The affection, admiration and respect she inspired became the hallmark of her reign.

‘And, as every member of my family can testify, she combined these qualities with warmth, humour and an unerring ability always to see the best in people.

‘I pay tribute to my Mother’s memory and I honour her life of service. I know that her death brings great sadness to so many of you and I share that sense of loss, beyond measure, with you all.

‘When The Queen came to the throne, Britain and the world were still coping with the privations and aftermath of the Second World War, and still living by the conventions of earlier times. In the course of the last 70 years we have seen our society become one of many cultures and many faiths.

‘The institutions of the State have changed in turn. But, through all changes and challenges, our nation and the wider family of Realms – of whose talents, traditions and achievements I am so inexpressibly proud – have prospered and flourished. Our values have remained, and must remain, constant.

‘The role and the duties of Monarchy also remain, as does the Sovereign’s particular relationship and responsibility towards the Church of England – the Church in which my own faith is so deeply rooted.

‘In that faith, and the values it inspires, I have been brought up to cherish a sense of duty to others, and to hold in the greatest respect the precious traditions, freedoms and responsibilities of our unique history and our system of parliamentary government.

‘As The Queen herself did with such unswerving devotion, I too now solemnly pledge myself, throughout the remaining time God grants me, to uphold the Constitutional principles at the heart of our nation.

‘And wherever you may live in the United Kingdom, or in the Realms and territories across the world, and whatever may be your background or beliefs, I shall endeavour to serve you with loyalty, respect and love, as I have throughout my life. My life will of course change as I take up my new responsibilities.

‘It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues for which I care so deeply. But I know this important work will go on in the trusted hands of others.

‘This is also a time of change for my family. I count on the loving help of my darling wife, Camilla. In recognition of her own loyal public service since our marriage 17 years ago, she becomes my Queen Consort.

‘I know she will bring to the demands of her new role the steadfast devotion to duty on which I have come to rely so much. As my Heir, William now assumes the Scottish titles which have meant so much to me.

‘He succeeds me as Duke of Cornwall and takes on the responsibilities for the Duchy of Cornwall which I have undertaken for more than five decades. Today, I am proud to create him Prince of Wales, Tywysog Cymru, the country whose title I have been so greatly privileged to bear during so much of my life and duty.

‘With Catherine beside him, our new Prince and Princess of Wales will, I know, continue to inspire and lead our national conversations, helping to bring the marginal to the centre ground where vital help can be given. I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan as they continue to build their lives overseas.

‘In a little over a week’s time we will come together as a nation, as a Commonwealth and indeed a global community, to lay my beloved mother to rest. In our sorrow, let us remember and draw strength from the light of her example.

‘On behalf of all my family, I can only offer the most sincere and heartfelt thanks for your condolences and support. They mean more to me than I can ever possibly express.

‘And to my darling Mama, as you begin your last great journey to join my dear late Papa, I want simply to say this: thank you.

‘Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years. May ‘flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest’.’

 

Elsewhere in the Palace, the newborn’s grandfather, King George VI, lay ill as his health began a slow but steady decline.

Charles Philip Arthur George was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Music Room at the Palace on December 15, 1948.

His godparents were: George VI; his great-grandmother Queen Mary; his aunt Princess Margaret; his paternal great-grandmother Victoria, Dowager Marchioness of Milford Haven; his great-uncle the Hon. David Bowes-Lyon; Lady Brabourne, daughter of Earl Mountbatten of Burma; and his great-uncles King Haakon of Norway and Prince George of Greece, neither of whom was able to attend the ceremony. 

In 1952, when Charles was just four, The Queen and Prince Philip left him and Princess Anne, then two, for six months while on a tour of the Commonwealth, while they took another six month trip a year later.

Deciding the gruelling schedule was too long for the young children, Her Majesty left the young royals at home in care of The Queen Mother and nannies, with Charles previously crediting his nannies for his early care.

Last year, a royal expert claimed  Charles ‘wasn’t parented’ by the Queen and Prince Philip, and instead had a ‘Victorian style upbringing with nannies’.

Speaking to Channel 5’s Charles & Harry: Father & Son Divided, royal author Tom Quinn said: ‘Charles didn’t receive any parenting.’

‘His parents were away when he was very young, he was left with nannies in that very Victorian way.’ 

Charles was educated at Cheam and Gordonstoun schools, both of which his father attended as a child. He later spent a year at the Timbertop campus of Geelong Grammar School in Victoria, Australia. 

Prince Harry has since said Charles ‘suffered’ because of his upbringing by the Queen and Prince Philip, and that the Prince of Wales had then ‘treated me the way he was treated’, calling it ‘genetic pain’. 

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Cambridge, Charles served in the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy from 1971 to 1976.

In 1981, he married Lady Diana Spencer, with whom he had two sons: William and Harry.

In 1996, the couple divorced following well-publicised extramarital affairs by both parties. Diana died as the result of a car crash in Paris the following year. And in 2005, Charles married his long-term partner Camilla Parker Bowles. 

During the Channel 4 documentary Queen Elizabeth: Love, Honour and Crown, Clive Irving argued that the Queen ‘never really understood’ her eldest son Charles and was ‘puzzled by him.’ 

Irving also claimed: ‘All those around the Queen never measure up to that at any point. Her own family has not measured up to that. Charles never measures up to that.’ 

However in one of her final public speeches, the Queen gushed over Charles and Prince William for carrying on her late husband’s work to protect ‘our fragile planet’. 

At Cop 26 in November 2021, the Queen said: ‘It is a source of great pride to me that the leading role my husband played in encouraging people to protect our fragile planet lives on through the work of our eldest son Charles and his eldest son William. I could not be more proud of them.’ 

And earlier this year, Charles gave a warm, emotional and often witty speech in praise of his mother at the close of the Jubilee Concert.

Just his opening word – ‘Mummy’ – earned him rapturous cheers from the crowd.  He described how ‘you laugh and cry with us and, most importantly, you have been there for us’ in a moving, personal tribute. 

He added: ‘You have met us and talked with us. You laugh and cry with us and, most importantly, you have been there for us, for these 70 years. You pledged to serve your whole life – you continue to deliver. That is why we are here. That is what we celebrate tonight.’

Charles reflected on the Queen’s every-growing family, which now stretches to 12 great-grandchildren, and on her dual role as sovereign and royal matriarch. He said: ‘Your family now spans four generations. You are our Head of State. And you are also our mother.’

And in a touching moment, Charles spoke of his ‘much missed’ late father the Duke of Edinburgh, calling him ‘My Papa’ and saying the Queen’s late husband Philip was there ‘in spirit’.

Following the Queen’s death, King Charles III paid tribute to his ‘darling Mama’ the Queen and vowed to ‘renew’ her ‘promise of a life of service’ as he delivered a deeply revealing and personal first address to the nation.

The monarch, holding back tears, said, ‘To my darling Mama, thank you, thank you’, as he hailed Elizabeth II as an ‘inspiration and an example to me and to all my family’ following her death at Balmoral on Thursday aged 96.

In a moving speech that was screened at a service of prayer and reflection at St Paul’s Cathedral, the King spoke of a ‘time of change for my family’ while praising his ‘darling wife Camilla’ who becomes Queen Consort ‘in recognition of her own loyal public service since our marriage 17 years ago’.

In his speech, the King said of his ‘beloved mother’ the late Elizabeth II: ‘We owe her the most heartfelt debt any family can owe to their mother; for her love, affection, guidance, understanding and example’.

He added: ‘To my darling Mama, as you begin your last great journey to join my dear late Papa, I want simply to say this: thank you.

‘Thank you for your love and devotion to our family and to the family of nations you have served so diligently all these years. May ‘flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest’.’

The King pledged to dedicate his whole life to serving the nation just as the Queen did at her accession, saying: ‘That promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today’.

PRINCESS ANNE

Princess Anne has said she does not understand people who ask her if she sees the Queen as her mother or as a monarch: 'She's my mother and the Queen' (pictured together in July 2022)

Princess Anne has said she does not understand people who ask her if she sees the Queen as her mother or as a monarch: 'She's my mother and the Queen' (pictured together in July 2022)

Princess Anne has said she does not understand people who ask her if she sees the Queen as her mother or as a monarch: ‘She’s my mother and the Queen’ (pictured together in July 2022) 

Now the Princess Royal, she was born at Clarence House, close to the Palace, on August 15, 1950.

She was christened Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise in the Palace Music Room on October 21, 1950, by the Archbishop of York, Cyril Forster Garbett.

Anne’s godparents were: her grandmother Queen Elizabeth; her paternal great-grandmother Princess Andrew of Greece; her aunt Princess Margarita of Hohenlohe-Langenburg; Earl Mountbatten of Burma; and Reverend the Honourable Andrew Elphinstone.

1662809233 799 The Queen dies Elizabeth II039s relationships with her children Charles

1662809233 799 The Queen dies Elizabeth II039s relationships with her children Charles

Princess Anne is the mother of silver medal-winning Olympic horsewoman Zara Tindall and Peter Phillips, who runs a sports management firm.

Anne was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia in 1990 for her work as president of the charity Save The Children.

In 2002, Anne became the first senior member of the royal family to be convicted of a criminal offence.

She pleaded guilty at East Berkshire Magistrates’ Court in Slough to a charge under the Dangerous Dogs Act after her English bull terrier Dotty bit two children in Windsor Great Park. She was fined £500.

A skilled horsewoman, Anne won the individual championship at Burghley in 1971, and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

She won a place in the 1976 Montreal Olympics as a three-day eventer in the British equestrian team.

In 1987, Anne was honoured by the Queen with the senior title of Princess Royal, which is traditionally, but not automatically, given by the sovereign to their eldest daughter.

Anne has been married twice. She wed Capt Phillips in 1973, they separated in 1989 and divorced in 1992.

In 1992, she married Tim Laurence, a former equerry to the Queen, who became a Vice Admiral. 

In an interview in 2002, Princess Anne defended the Queen against accusations that she was an ‘uncaring mother’.

And the royal joined her mother on one of her final engagements in public, accompanying her to visit a hospice in Maidenhead in July. 

In a rare interview for a BBC1 documentary to mark the jubilee, she said it is ‘extraordinary’ for anybody to claim her mother has ever not cared about her children.

Anne said her mother was never uncaring, although protocol demanded that her children and grandchildren have to bow or curtsey to her and she spent a lot of time apart from them.

In the interview, Anne explained: ‘I simply don’t believe there is any evidence whatsoever to suggest that she wasn’t caring. It just beggars belief.’

She added: ‘I don’t believe any of us for a second thought that she didn’t care for us in exactly the same way as any other mother did. I just think it extraordinary that anybody could construe that that might not be true.’

The princess said she does not understand people who ask her if she sees the Queen as her mother or as a monarch: ‘She’s my mother and the Queen.’

Shortly before the news of the Queen’s death was announced, the Princess Royal joined other members of the royal family in travelling to Balmoral to be with her mother. 

It was only she and Prince Charles who were by her side by she died.

PRINCE ANDREW

The Duke of York was long considered Her Majesty's favourite son, with the pair remaining exceptionally close despite all his public mishaps (pictured together in March 2022)

The Duke of York was long considered Her Majesty's favourite son, with the pair remaining exceptionally close despite all his public mishaps (pictured together in March 2022)

The Duke of York was long considered Her Majesty’s favourite son, with the pair remaining exceptionally close despite all his public mishaps (pictured together in March 2022) 

After a gap of almost 10 years, Prince Andrew, now the Duke of York, was born at the Palace on February 19, 1960, the first child to be born to a reigning monarch since Queen Victoria’s last, Princess Beatrice, in 1857.

Christened Andrew Albert Christian Edward on April 8, 1960, in the Music Room by the Archbishop of Canterbury, his godparents were: his great-uncle Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester; Princess Alexandra; Lord Elphinstone; the Earl of Euston; and Mrs Harold Phillips. 

The Duke of York was long considered Her Majesty’s favourite son, with the pair remaining exceptionally close despite all his public mishaps. 

In November 2019 the Duke was forced to step down from his royal duties amid the scandal over his friendship with the late paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. 

Nigel Cawthorne, author of Prince Andrew: Epstein and the Palace, has argued that Andrew led a ‘charmed life’ before his infamous car crash Newsnight interview with Emily Maitliss – but his downfall was ‘a long time coming’. 

‘[It] has been long delayed by the protection he has been given him throughout his life,’ he wrote in The Telegraph.

‘Known as a child for his temper tantrums, even the imperious Prince Philip called Andrew “The Boss”. But he was always his mother’s favourite.’ 

Nigel told how the Queen wrote to her cousin after his birth telling her that he was ‘adorable’ and was destined to be ‘terribly spoilt’. Perhaps this is what led to his school peers at Gordonstoun branding him ‘boastful’ and ‘big-headed’.

He added that while some found Andrew ‘charming in person’, when he took on his first official duties, he was ‘gaffe prone with a callous disregard for the sensitivities of others’ and was ‘no better with employees’.

Nigel recalled how the Prince, while representing the Queen in Port Stanley shortly after the Falklands armistice and the death of 255 servicemen, remarked it was the ‘perfect place to bring my bride on honeymoon’. 

He said Andrew’s time at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth appeared to have ‘little impact’, adding that a wife of one of the instructors claimed he ‘isn’t popular with either the staff or his fellow cadets’ because he ‘never lets you forget who he is’ – while Prince Charles, on the other hand, is ‘still remembered with tremendous affection’.

Despite being removed from the Navy’s active list in 2001, the prince was continually promoted, becoming rear admiral in 2010 and vice admiral in 2015. The Queen invested him as a Knight of the Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in 2011.

When Andrew was appointed the UK’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, Nigel told how complaints from British embassies about his ‘bad judgement’ and failure to stick to protocol and agreed itineraries were ‘not to be made in writing in their dispatches’ but ‘conveyed by telephone’.

Despite being separated since 1992 and officially divorced since 1996, the Duke and Duchess of York have maintained a remarkably close bond, with the pair living together in Royal Lodge in Windsor. 

Meanwhile Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, has said Andrew and elder brother Charles are ‘ polar opposite’.

She said: ‘He’s [Andrew] noisy, bumptious, very charming, when he wants to be. He can be arrogant and rude; he has some characteristics of his own father.’

Andrew has been dogged by questions over the source of his wealth for years, and is believed to have relied on handouts from the Queen, personal investments and bequests from relatives such as the Queen Mother. 

His mother is believed to have funded some of the estimated £12million bill in Prince Andrew’s sex abuse lawsuit settlement this year. 

It has been suggested that the Queen used her private income to help Andrew with his legal bills – estimated to be between £500,000 and £1million – and the Daily Telegraph reported that she would contribute to the settlement using income from her private Duchy of Lancaster estate. However, Buckingham Palace would not comment on the claim – and courtiers have tried to distance the monarch from the US court case. 

The settlement, which was agreed between lawyers in a sensational development, came just weeks after Andrew vowed to contest the rape claims by Mrs Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, at a public trial.

Mrs Giuffre had alleged she was forced to have sex with the duke three times when she was 17 under the orders of the late paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein. Earlier this year, she was given the go-ahead to sue Andrew for unspecified damages in a New York civil court. But despite vowing to fight the claims and repeatedly protesting his innocence, the prince agreed to pay a huge sum to settle the case before it ever reached a jury.

Earlier this year, many were surprised to see Prince Andrew walking the Queen into Prince Philips’ memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral. 

The Duke of York is understood to have got his way after lobbying to take his 95-year-old mother to her seat because she ‘couldn’t say no to her favourite son’ despite objections from William and Charles, sources claimed.

Even his siblings were said to be ‘dismayed’ by the stunt, with them earlier hoping ‘common sense’ would prevail and he would accept playing a backroom role in the event. 

Last month, sources claimed Prince Andrew spent three days locked in ‘intense talks’ with the Queen about his future as he desperately was seeking a ‘route back’ to royal life after he was stripped of his HRH status over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. 

PRINCE EDWARD

Between Edward and his wife Sophie, the Wessexes combine for more than 500 royal engagements every year, and have stepped up since the high-profile departure of Harry and Meghan and Prince Andrew stepping back from public duties in 2019 (pictured, Edward with the Queen in May 2022)

Between Edward and his wife Sophie, the Wessexes combine for more than 500 royal engagements every year, and have stepped up since the high-profile departure of Harry and Meghan and Prince Andrew stepping back from public duties in 2019 (pictured, Edward with the Queen in May 2022)

Between Edward and his wife Sophie, the Wessexes combine for more than 500 royal engagements every year, and have stepped up since the high-profile departure of Harry and Meghan and Prince Andrew stepping back from public duties in 2019 (pictured, Edward with the Queen in May 2022) 

Now the Earl of Wessex, he was the royal couple’s fourth and final child, born at the Palace on March 10, 1964, when the Queen was nearly 38.

He was christened Edward Antony Richard Louis on May 2 by the Dean of Windsor in the private chapel at Windsor Castle.

Edward’s godparents were: Prince Richard of Gloucester; the Duchess of Kent; his uncle the Earl of Snowdon; Princess George of Hanover; and Prince Louis of Hesse.

All of Elizabeth and Philip’s children – as well as their grandchildren, apart from Viscount Severn – were christened in a robe of fine Honiton lace, lined with white satin, made in 1841 for the christening of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter Victoria, Princess Royal.

Prince Edward’s birth was the only one Prince Philip was present for, after insisting he be by the Queen’s bedside to hold her hand.

Edward – currently the only one of the Queen’s three sons not to possess a dukedom – was also his father’s choice to inherit the Duke of Edinburgh title.

According to royal author Matthew Dennison, the monarch’s blue-eyed boy was her youngest, the Earl of Wessex, 57, despite him seeming ‘a bit wet and irritating’.

He claimed the Queen and Prince Philip always favoured their youngest child, which became apparent following an incident in 1987, when Edward was 22.

Writing in his new biography The Queen, Dennison said: ‘Prince Edward, seemingly a bit wet and a tad irritating to the rest of us, was always his parents’ favourite.

‘That became apparent in 1987 when Edward, aged 22, opted out of the Royal Marines when he was just a third of the way through his 12-month basic training course.

To the surprise of some, Prince Philip [Captain-General of the Royal Marines] did not come down on his son like a ton of bricks.

‘He accepted that the Marines “wasn’t right for Edward” – and to this day Edward is grateful for that.’

A week after Prince Edward quit the Marines, he was photographed walking to church at Sandringham beside his father, which was deemed a public show of support from Philip and the Queen.

Royal expert Ingrid Seward has also previously claimed that Prince Edward is the monarch’s favourite child, highlighting Prince Philip’s surprising reaction to his son’s decision to quit the Royal Marines.

‘Given his action-man image and his well-earned reputation for irascibility, many people assumed he [Prince Philip] was outraged,’ she previously told The Daily Mail.

‘Stories soon spread that harsh words had been exchanged between father and son; even that Edward had been reduced to tears by his father’s anger.

‘The truth was quite the opposite: of all the Royal Family, Philip was in fact the most sympathetic. He understood his son’s decision, which he considered a brave one, and supported him fully.’

Between he and his wife Sophie, the Wessexes combine for more than 500 royal engagements every year, and have stepped up since the high-profile departure of Harry and Meghan and Prince Andrew stepping back from public duties in 2019. 

And ehe Earl of Wessex was seen by his mother’s side increasingly frequently in her final months – including joining her at the opening on the Elizabeth Line and accompanying her to A Gallop Through History, the first major event for her Platinum Jubilee. 

The couple joined the rest of the royal family at Balmoral after the Queen had died. They are parents to children Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn. 

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