"It's not a straightforward father-son relationship," a palace source tells PEOPLE

By Simon Perry and Stephanie Petit
March 19, 2021 02:20 PM
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Prince Charles doesn't have a "straightforward father-son relationship" with Prince William and Prince Harry.

Prince Harry revealed in his interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this month that his father had stopped taking his calls at one point amid his and Meghan Markle's royal exit. While Charles and Harry spoke over the phone last weekend, sources say the relationship between Prince Charles and his sons has been complex for years.

"There has always been this complicated relationship with their dad," a palace source tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story.

In addition to Prince Charles and Princess Diana's painful divorce and consequent marriage to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who he had an affair with during his relationship with Diana, Prince Charles controls the money.

"It's not a straightforward father-son relationship," the palace source adds. "He is their father and their boss, and they are beholden to him to fund their offices and lives."

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry
Prince Harry, Prince William and Prince Charles
| Credit: John Sibley - WPA Pool/Getty

A close insider says, "Tension between Charles and the boys has always surrounded money, because Charles is the one who holds all the power."

Through his lucrative Duchy of Cornwall estate, which generates an income of nearly $30 million a year, Charles funds his own official office along with William and Kate Middleton's. He previously funded Harry and Meghan Markle's office as well.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry
Prince Charles, Prince William, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage

During the Oprah interview, Prince Harry said, "My family literally cut me off financially" in early 2020, shortly after the couple announced they wanted to step back as senior members of the royal family and become "financially independent."

Harry added that he had the money left to him by his late mother, Princess Diana.

Prince harry and Megan and Oprah
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Oprah Winfrey
| Credit: Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions

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"Without that, we wouldn't have been able to do this," he said, likely referring to the family's move to California.

The Duke of Sussex added, "All I wanted was enough money to get security and keep my family safe."