|Front page | In Depth | UK|
Looking like an ordinary family
Prince Charles was close to his grandmother
Cool towards the troubled Princess Diana
The Queen Mother devoted her life to the Monarchy and in the time following the Abdication in 1936, she was largely responsible for resurrecting the institution's popularity.
She became a hugely popular figure, one who gave the Royal Family a more human face.
And so, in her twilight years, at the time of what her daughter, The Queen, famously called her "annus horribilis", 1992, the Queen Mother was reported to be concerned that the actions of some of the younger members of the Royal Family were threatening to undo many of her and her daughter's achievements.
Central to this was the breakdown of the marriage of Charles and Diana which sent shockwaves through the Royal Family and caused the Queen Mother much angst.
For Charles, as her first grandchild, always held a special place in her heart, a factor that complicated her relationship with the Princess of Wales.
Confidante to Charles
As a young boy, the Prince had to learn very quickly that his mother was Queen and that her official duties meant often having to leave him on the sidelines.
On one occasion, The Queen and the Duke were away for a six month tour. It was at times like these that Charles and his sister Anne turned to their grandmother for supervision and support.
The Prince's unhappiness at his Scottish boarding school, Gordonstoun, is well documented. She provided a shoulder to cry on, literally.
According to one of Charles's biographers, Anthony Holden, "More than either of Charles's parents, perhaps, his grandmother understood the ordeal of the quiet, uncertain child in a harsh and alien world."
But the Queen Mother refused to intercede with his parents, believing it was her job to help him through this trial. It was another example of her deep sense of duty.
Such was the closeness of the relationship between Charles and his grandmother that she chose him to escort her at her official 80th birthday celebrations. Observers said they shared the same sense of humour.
Relationship with Diana
However, this mutual adoration society was to cause problems when Charles's marriage to Diana hit problems.
It had been Diana's grandmother, the Queen Mother's lady-in-waiting, who testified in court about her own daughter's unsuitability to look after her four children.
Diana told the author, Andrew Morton, by way of tapes she gave him, that she distrusted the Queen Mother and kept her distance. She saw Clarence House as the font of all negative comment about herself and her mother.
Diana too, was said to believe that the Queen Mother exercised an enormous influence over Charles. The Queen Mother, it is said, blamed Diana for setting the public against the Royal Family.
The Queen Mother's relationship with another grandson, Andrew, is said also to have become strained as a result of the activities of his wife Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.
Upset by 'selfish' grandchildren
Topless and adulterous frolics with Texan businessmen did not help the image of the Family. According to royal watcher, Ingrid Seward, the Queen Mother "was appalled by the apparent lack of dedication to duty and what she sees as selfishness she witnessed in her grandchildren and their spouses."
Her refusal to become involved with any of Prince Edward's royal television productions were on a point of principle.
Similarly, she was reported to be against any marriage by Charles to Camilla because of the damage it might do to the Royal Family's image, even though she was said to like Camilla personally. Sophie Wessex once remarked that Charles and Camilla would never marry as long as the Queen Mother was alive.
The Queen Mother represented a force for stability for the Royal Family, no more so than when this appeared to be under threat. But, to Charles above all, she was much more than a symbol. He once described her "as one of the most remarkable and wonderful people in the world."
|Back to Top|
|News Sources | Privacy