While the first two seasons of The Crown mainly revolved around the Queen and her reign, season 3 also made room for a detailed portrait of her incredibly tragic first-born, Prince Charles. Even though he is the first-in-line to the throne, he often feels overlooked and unseen. His family has very little love for him. The only person who warns the family about his unhappiness is Princess Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister who knew better than anyone else how it feels to be silenced.
In season 4, Charles married Lady Diana, which eventually led him to become somewhat of an antagonist. But when we put Charles into the context of his family, we can’t blame him for becoming so resentful and bitter.
10 He Has No Say Over His Life
Charles knew from the get-go that he will one day be King, but little did he know that being King isn’t necessarily a blessing, it can definitely feel like a prison sentence at times. How he truly feels about his future was revealed in “Tywysog Cymru” when he played the role of King Richard II. Well, he was reciting Shakespeare’s play, but he delivered the monologue with such emotion, it was clear he highly related to it.
The message was clear: just because he is one day to be king, it doesn’t mean that he is not a human first and foremost: “I live with bread like you, feel want, taste grief, need friends. Subjected thus, how can you say to me … I am a king?”
9 His Father Resents Him
Lord Mountbatten AKA Uncle Dickie was like a father to Prince Philip, but when Prince Charles grew older and needed guidance (and someone to control him), Mountbatten started giving more and more attention to him instead. After he died, father and son shared a very powerful scene: it became clear that Philip low-key resented Charles and that there was definitely no love or affection between them.
It’s pretty clear that Charles suffers because his own father doesn’t care about him. He looks at him as if he was a major disappointment.
8 He Doesn’t Get Along With Diana
The highly anticipated season 4 finally introduced Lady Diana, Charles’s young wife. They barely knew one another before getting married and it was clear Charles didn’t really want to go through with it. Meanwhile, the Queen hoped that Charles will come to his senses and that everything will resolve itself on its own.
His marriage turns out to be a disaster, just like his aunt’s was. The two simply don’t speak the same love language: Diana thought that dancing to Uptown Girl will delight her husband, which just showed how little she actually knew him. In return, he grew more and more resentful and jealous. It was clear that the public loved her way more than him.
7 His Cries For Help Go Unnoticed
Before we start calling Charles a monster because of the cruel ways he ignored Diana, let’s remember that Charles tried to end this marriage in a civil way. He begged his mother to lend him an ear and understand that he can no longer live this way. All he got in return was scolding and outdated lessons on the reality of being married.
When he finally got to sit down with his parents and Diana in “Avalanche”, it was Diana who stole his thunder and reassured the Queen that they will make their marriage work. Why did she do that if she was clearly struggling as well? Charles’s cries for help were silenced yet again. It’s pretty ironic that the Queen has such support in her own mother, but she fails to do the same for her son.
6 He Can’t Marry The Woman He Loves
Season 3 introduced Prince Charles’ one and only Camilla Shand. The two seemed to really hit it off. They shared a similar sense of humor and Charles felt genuinely liked and seen, perhaps for the first time in his life. And what did the family do? They arranged for Camilla to marry Andrew Parker Bowles, so Charles could kiss his flights of fancy goodbye.
It’s important to remember that the show is only partially historically correct. We can’t know for sure to which extent the Royals were behind this unfortunate marriage. It’s not like they have the power to force people to get married against their will.
5 He Was Criticized For His Investiture Speech
In no other episode is Prince Charles as tragic as he is in “Tywysog Cymru”, one of the best episodes of The Crown. He was away from home for six long months. The idea was that he delivers his investiture speech in Welsh, so he had to start learning how to speak the tongue-twisting language. In the end, Prince Charles edited the speech the way he saw fit (and might we add, it was beautiful), only to be heavily criticized by his mother.
She was so angry with him that she wouldn’t even see him at first. When she finally did, he didn’t receive a single word of praise; instead, he was criticized and humiliated. All he did was wanting to be heard and seen. Besides, he genuinely cared about the Welsh people, while his family always turned the blind eye to the plights of people in real life.
4 His Sister Is His Only Ally
Charles gets along with his sister Anne. They even share the same friends and they have a similar sense of humor. She is the only person who offers him sympathy, even though she by no means has a warm personality.
On the other hand, Princess Anne does what she is told and spills the beans about Charles’s life to the Queen and Queen Mother anytime they want an update on his life. Instead of asking him directly, this family is all about toxic triangulation.
3 A Shamed Sensitive Soul
Prince Charles was not portrayed as an alpha male: he was quiet, shy, studious. When he went to Wales, he didn’t make friends – if anything, he was bullied. The Queen was concerned for him, not because she loved him, but because she wondered how that would affect him and thus the Crown.
Philip didn’t think much of Charles’s appreciation of Shakespeare, either. He’d be much prouder if the Prince of Wales was an army enthusiast. Instead, his son was more into classical music and gardening.
2 His Life Has No Meaning Until His Mother Dies
Prince Charles was groomed to one day become a king. Even though he is just a little over 30 years old in season 4 and his mother is still pretty young, his lack of purpose starts to gnaw at him. He was born to be a King, so he lives in this limbo of permanent waiting.
It’s not like Charles wasn’t allowed to do other things while waiting, but he couldn’t devote his life to anything else the way his siblings could. He was to stay close to the family, even though nobody really liked him.
1 The Family (And Audience) Has No Sympathy Left For Him
Since all he does is complain and wallow in self-pity, Charles has no allies in his family left. Even his sister Anne gave him a harsh reality check when he confided in her at some point.
How we all sighed with compassion in season 3 when Charles was continuously put down. But by season 4, he transformed into a man who has done several horrible things, mostly to his wife. One of the unpopular opinions about The Crown states that the show focused too much on the marriage of Charles and Diana. It also resorted to a black-and-white portrayal of incredibly complex characters which is something that the show successfully omitted otherwise. They truly did Charles a huge disservice in that regard.
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