Princess Diana said Charles’ “emotional retentiveness” was due to his unaffectionate childhood, according to a new biography

By Simon Perry
September 21, 2020 10:29 AM
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Princess Diana once said the only thing her ex-husband Prince Charles "learned about love was shaking hands,” a new biography claims.

In Prince Philip Revealed, which has been excerpted by the Mail on Sunday, veteran royal biographer Ingrid Seward says that because of Charles' upbringing, he “couldn’t be tactile with his own wife.” Seward says Diana told her about her ex-husband's unaffectionate childhood with parents Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

Diana said Charles’ “emotional retentiveness” was due to his childhood, Seward writes. “Diana reckoned that if Charles had been brought up in the normal fashion, he would have been better able to handle his and her emotions."

Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1988
David Levenson/Getty

"Instead, she said, his feelings seemed to have been suffocated at birth," Seward continues. "According to her, he never had any hands-on love from his parents. Only his nannies showed him affection but that, as Diana explained, was not the same as being kissed and cuddled by your parents, which Charles never was. When he met his parents, they didn’t embrace: they shook hands.”

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Philip

Seward outlines a series of separations that affected the young prince. His father was often away at sea in his role as a naval officer. He only attended two of Charles’ first eight birthday parties, Seward reports.

“Even when judged by the standards of the time, Philip and Elizabeth saw remarkably little of their offspring,” she writes.

Prince Charles, Sarah Ferguson and Princess Diana
Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty

Meanwhile, the then Princess Elizabeth left 4-month-old Princess Anne and Charles, then 2, at Sandringham House as she joined Philip in Malta for Christmas.

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Philip, 99, and the Queen, 94, are currently staying at the Queen's home in Norfolk after their summer at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. A decision will be made in the coming weeks about whether Philip follows his wife south to Windsor Castle when she resumes full-time royal duties this fall.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana
PA Images via Getty

In earlier excerpts of the book, which will be published in the U.S. on October 20, it emerged that Philip views grandson Prince Harry’s departure from senior royal family work alongside wife Meghan Markle as a "dereliction" of his grandson's responsibilities.

“He has struggled greatly, for example, with what he sees as his grandson Harry’s dereliction of duty," Seward writes.