Prince Harry Says He Prioritizes Affection for Archie and Lilibet: 'Smother Them with Love'

The Duke of Sussex said it's important for him to show son Archie, 3, and daughter Lilibet, 1, lots of love and affection Harry & Meghan | Official Trailer 2 | Netflix Credit: Netflix/Youtube
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with their children, Princess Lilibet and Prince Archie. Photo: Netflix/Youtube

Prince Harry is focused on being the best father possible to Archie Harrison and Lilibet Diana.

The Duke of Sussex, 38, opened up about fatherhood in an intimate conversation with Dr. Gabor Maté on Saturday to discuss his memoir Spare. During the virtual book event, Maté, an expert who specializes in trauma, addiction, stress and childhood development, referenced a few passages in his book where Harry revisited times during his childhood when he wished his father King Charles and grandmother Queen Elizabeth had been more physically affectionate. Maté asked Harry how the lack of physical contact has shaped his parenting philosophy today.

"It leaves me in the position how as a father, I have two kids of my own, making sure that I smother them with love and affection," Prince Harry said, joking that he doesn't "smother them to the point that they're trying to get away."

"But in the sense that I as a father feel a huge responsibility to ensure that I don't pass on any traumas or negative experiences I've had," he continued. "And that's work, that's putting in the work, and daily, being conscious of my behavior, of my reactions to both of my kids.

"And there are times when I catch myself in a moment when I should be smothering them with that love and in that moment, I might not be, reminding myself [to]. I wouldn't have been as aware of it had I not done the therapy and work that I've done."

Harry & Meghan Netflix Documentary
Prince Harry and Lilibet. Netflix

Maté, the author of The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture, asked Harry to imagine what the "impact" would be of Archie, 3, and Lilibet, 1, "not getting the hugging the way you didn't get it."

"I don't know what the impact would be, but I imagine the result would be similar," Harry said of his young son and daughter, who he shares with wife Meghan Markle. "That's why, again, I am grateful to have been able to change my environment, which I fully appreciate that not everyone can do, because it comes down to resource," he continued, referencing his family's move from the U.K. to California after he and Meghan stepped back from their royal roles in early 2020.

"To be able to change the root cause of so much of those issues, to be able to up, move, that to me, feels as though it gives me much more of a chance, and my wife, more agency as parents, to be able to bring our kids up in a way that's really beneficial and good for them," he said. The Duke of Sussex added that he had "an incredible childhood, elements of it, and elements of it were incredibly painful."

PEOPLE exclusively revealed the news of the livestream event last Friday, six weeks after Spare hit shelves. The book became an instant New York Times bestseller and remained at the #1 spot on the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction bestseller list for six consecutive weeks.

Prince Harry book
The book jacket of Prince Harry's memoir 'Spare'. PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

English-language sales for Spare top more than 4 million copies with over 1.43 million units purchased on the first day it was available, making Spare the fastest-selling nonfiction book of all time.

The week of the book's release, Prince Harry opened up to PEOPLE about why he decided to share his story in his own words.

"My hope has been to turn my pain into purpose, so if sharing my experience makes a positive difference in someone's life, well, I can't think of anything more rewarding than that," he said.

Prince Harry cover rollout
Jenna Jones

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While the title of Spare is a clear nod to his position in the royal family's line of succession, Harry told PEOPLE that he's most proud of his roles at home.

"A husband and a father – first and foremost – as well as a veteran, environmentalist, and mental health advocate," he told PEOPLE of how he identifies today. "I know that I want to live my life in service of others and that I want to live by example for my kids."

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