Inside King Charles' Relationship With Prince Edward

When we ponder the institution that is the royal family, it's easy to think of a structured system — spanning hundreds of years and countless subjects — rather than an intricate, familial bond. While we all know that King Charles III is the eldest son of the late Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, it seems as though he spent more of his time waiting to be king — and serving on behalf of the crown — than he did being the doting son of a loving mother. Further still, such a royal like Prince Harry — who decided to put family first and leave the duties of being a senior royal behind — has been the subject of much public ire due to his seemingly controversial choice. Any royal watcher and fan of the family can easily tell you who is related to who in what capacity, who is in line to the throne, and who is the child of which royal, but examining the structure and royal relation to one another aside, do the royals behave like a family?

It's a question that has plagued even the most royally familiar among us, and no two royals are a better example of family in the line of service than Charles and his youngest brother, Prince Edward. Charles has been groomed to be king since he was toddling around the castle, whereas Edward is down at the No. 13 spot. Here's everything we know about the two brothers' bond.

Edward is playing a key role in King Charles' reign

While the intricacies of their relationship haven't always endured the test of time, King Charles III and Prince Edward are united by one common goal: service to the crown. Now that Charles is the reigning monarch, Edward plays a key role as a senior royal alongside his older sister, Princess Anne, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and others. Edward has represented the monarchy on more than one occasion, standing in for the king and representing Great Britain as a whole.

As noted by People, for example, Edward represented the crown during the President of South Africa's official state visit in November 2022. Not only was it the first state visit of Charles' reign, but Edward greeted President Cyril Ramaphosa and accompanied him during royal engagements. During the official visit, the high-profile duo attended a tour of the royal botanic gardens and discussed conservation efforts.

To add even more impressive royal representation to his resume, Edward and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, are set to attend the Royal Variety Performance on behalf of the crown on December 1, 2022. "We are thrilled that our royal guests of honor at this year's Royal Variety Performance will be Their Royal Highnesses The Earl and Countess of Wessex and Forfar," Royal Variety tweeted in anticipation of the event, clearly proving that Charles trusts Edward to work on behalf of the monarchy.

Charles was groomed to be king, whereas Edward experienced a more normal upbringing

It may be challenging to summon sympathy for a man who lives in not one but multiple castles, but it's been rather well-documented that King Charles III had anything but a pleasant childhood. As a toddler, he was first in line for the British throne and was thrust into the spotlight. Time further notes the difficult relationship he shared with his father, the ire he faced while a student at boarding school, and the loneliness that encapsulated his life as a young boy. While Charles is now known for his high profile affair, his war with ballpoint pens, and his royal specifications (of which the list is very long), he was once a child who was groomed from the very start to be king.

On the other hand, Prince Edward, the youngest of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's children, sits a comfortable distance from the throne. It was documented well that Elizabeth shared a more motherly tone — and far more time — with her two youngest children than her two eldest, and royal expert Christopher Andersen believes that the stark contrast has led to jealousy amid Charles and Edward's relationship.

"Charles harbors varying degrees of resentment toward all three of his siblings — Anne, Andrew, and Edward — for the affection and attention lavished on them by their parents and denied him from the very beginning," he told The Daily Beast.

Charles and Edward's relationship was severely strained in the early 2000s

Unlike King Charles III, Prince Edward's royal life has come with far less pressures, and as such, he explored passions of his throughout his young life. In 1993, he started his own film production company, Ardent Productions, and while he had intentions for its success, it started to plummet with time. The production company, surprisingly, was at the center of one of Charles and Edward's biggest arguments, all coming to a head in September 2001. As noted by Express, Prince William was starting his first year of school at St. Andrew's University in Scotland, and a "two-man film crew" from Ardent Productions was spotted in the small town trying to capture the young prince in his day-to-day life. According to royal expert Robert Jobson, the company was in dire straits, and trying to get the young prince on tape was a last-ditch effort to keep the company standing.

"William was furious. He felt his uncle's company's actions had threatened to undermine the carefully nurtured relationship between St James' Palace and the media, and in turn that it would threaten the entente cordiale between him and the press," Jobson detailed. "When the story emerged, Prince Charles understandably went ballistic. He berated his youngest sibling ... Relations between the brothers plummeted to an all-time low as St James' Palace publicly criticized Edward for his idiocy and the behavior of his production company."

Charles and Edward's wives enjoyed different relationships with the queen

Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, shared one-on-one time with the late Queen Elizabeth II, and they all enjoyed each other's company. Of the queen's four children, Edward was the only one to enter a rather stable marriage: He and Sophie married a little bit later in life, had a relatively low-key royal wedding, two kids, and showed a united front throughout their marriage. Elizabeth's three other children all engaged in adultery and divorced their first spouses, clearly going against the Church of England and the queen's preferences. As such, Sophie's 2016 admission that they shared a rather close relationship with Elizabeth wasn't all that surprising, given the context.

"We do see quite a lot of her," Sophie said, according to Us Weekly. "We're over there most weekends riding."

While Sophie enjoyed a close relationship with the queen, Camilla, Queen Consort — now a senior royal — did not. Before her time in the palace, she was seen as the other woman in Charles' marriage to the late Diana Spencer, with even the queen passing judgment after a few martinis. In Tom Bower's book, "Rebel Prince: The Power and Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles," the expert details that the queen told Charles that "she would not condone his adultery, nor forgive Camilla for not leaving Charles alone to allow his marriage to recover." She even called Camilla "that wicked woman." Yikes.

One source reports the temperature between the royals brothers as ice cold

It's hard to imagine that a king could ever be jealous or harbor ill-will toward someone else, let alone a family member. But for King Charles III and his younger brother, Prince Edward, time reportedly has not been kind to their relationship. A source told The Daily Beast of the brothers that they "barely know each other" despite having lived in the same royal system. This is not only in part thanks to the distance cast between them after the 2001 film debacle, as previously mentioned, but royal author Penny Junor attributes the icy temperature to Charles' perspective as a whole.

Not only has Edward enjoyed a much more normal life with far fewer expectations, but Junor assesses that Charles has always "struggled" with those in the royal family who enjoy more public popularity than him, an attitude extending to Edward, the late Diana Spencer, and even his own sons.

"Charles is a man who grew up being a star in his own firmament and it's very hard to let someone else in on that stage to share the limelight," Junor explained. "He found it very difficult with Diana, and he found it difficult when his sons started to become stars in their own right. He was an older man, they were younger and more photogenic with beautiful wives — and of course that is threatening."

How Edward has replaced Prince Harry's presence as a senior royal under King Charles

When we pondered the monarchy's future just a few short years ago, it seemed as though the "fab four" — Prince William and Princess Catherine, and Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex — had it in the bag. But as we know, Harry and Meghan are no longer working royals and instead are enjoying their lives in California. As such, William has taken on a very high-profile position and surprisingly, so has Prince Edward. It may not have been King Charles III's first choice to essentially have his youngest brother step into the limelight in such a big way, but as his reign gets underway, Charles has officially made Edward a "counsellor of state," alongside Camilla, Queen Consort, and Princess Anne.

Charles had to make a formal request to essentially replace Harry as a senior royal and counsellor of state with Edward, the BBC details, as Harry can no longer represent the king or the monarchy as he is not a "working royal." The only other option was Prince Andrew, and he was stripped of his military titles and pretty much all public support over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. As such, the king had to go to the House of Lords to formally ask for Edward to step into Harry's shoes, requesting the Counsellors of State Bill to be introduced.

Edward is a member of Charles' 'slimmed down' monarchy

If you've watched Season 5 of "The Crown," you know that slimming down the monarchy has been something that King Charles III has been discussing for decades. Not only is the British royal family one of the biggest in size and spending in comparison to other European counterparts, but royal fatigue has grown with time. As such, Charles has often spoken publicly about slimming down the number of working royals, and while we haven't seen his plan go into action yet, he's only been on the throne for about two months as of publication — time will certainly tell. Surprisingly, given the distance within their relationship, Prince Edward will likely be kept as a senior royal even when said slimming down takes effect, royal commentator Kinsey Schofield explained to Insider.

"We saw our first glimpse of the new firm over the Christmas holiday 2020," Schofield explained, pointing to a photograph of the late Queen Elizabeth, Charles and Camilla, Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Princess Anne, and Prince William and Catherine, the now Princess of Wales.

"While these are all individuals that will be out in the future representing the crown, I think Charles will try to draw attention to himself, Camilla, and the Cambridge family as the future of the monarchy," Schofield explained. Edward might not be in the spotlight of the senior royals, but he's there!

Charles and Edward don't see eye-to-eye on this element of royal life

As far as royals go, Prince Edward has certainly cast himself aside as one of the most normal among his family members. When he's not on the job, he and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, keep a pretty low profile and have even been successful at keeping their kids out of the spotlight. As such, he and King Charles III may not see eye-to-eye when it comes to the spoils of royal life, royal expert Tom Bower asserted to The Daily Beast. He reckons that Charles' untampered jealousy towards Edward — which apparently is one of the worst kept secrets in Britain — should've been nipped in the bud ages ago, asserting that their differences in perspective and way of life shouldn't have been allowed to become such a public issue.

"I find it bizarre that a 72-year-old man could be jealous of his younger brother, who does not have any public status whatsoever, who doesn't offer a challenge, who is not political," Bower told The Daily Beast after recounting a "baffling" story of Charles demanding his own bedroom set be carted to a friend's home during a weekend getaway, pointing to the stark differences between the brothers. "Edward is a harmless soul, which makes it even more baffling why this has suddenly arisen. It's actually symbolic of the palace in disarray. I find it unseemly and distasteful — and the palace should have stopped it."

King Charles is facing backlash over a controversial title decision involving Prince Edward

One of the biggest points of contention between King Charles III and Prince Edward has to do with Edward's title. When Edward married Sophie, Countess of Wessex, in 1999, it was announced by the palace that Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, wished for the Duke of Edinburgh title to be passed on to Edward after Philip's passing. Being handed such a vital title — and one that belonged to his father — is certainly a meaningful gesture for Edward, but as it turns out, Charles has no intention of giving Edward the dukedom now that he's king. In fact, to add insult to injury, Charles is the Duke of Edinburgh and will be until he ever decides to pass the title along to his youngest brother, The News notes.

"[Charles] is the Duke of Edinburgh as it stands, and it is up to him what happens to the title. It will not go to Edward," Roya Nikkhah, the royal editor for The Sunday Times, explained of the situation, The Daily Beast notes. Her assertion was bolstered by Christopher Andersen, who said, "Denying the Duke of Edinburgh title to Edward just makes [Charles] look small, petulant, and more than a little vindictive. It's not a very good sign for the monarchy. Charles needs to appear more magnanimous if he has any hope of winning over his future subjects."

Charles does not agree with Edward's stance toward Prince Andrew

Prince Andrew was a known associate of the late and disgraced Jeffrey Epstein and settled with accuser Virginia Giuffre after she accused him of abusing her as a minor. Andrew, as such, was stripped of military honors and has all but evaporated from the public eye, much to King Charles III's wishes. But Charles' perspective isn't supported by all his family members, and as of publication, Charles and Edward were once again said to be on opposite sides of an argument, this time with Andrew in the middle.

Edward, Andrew, and their sister, Princess Anne, all got together for a family gathering in November 2022, with Charles noticeably absent. Not only was Andrew in attendance, but the gathering took place just days before Charles' 74th birthday. Talk about a one-two punch.

Of the family get-together, a source revealed to The Daily Mail that the king was less than thrilled with his siblings' acceptance of Andrew, who he believes should be kept out of the spotlight no matter what. "King Charles was said to be displeased that Edward and Anne had been publicly meeting up with Andrew and wanted it made clear that he had not been part of the shoot. Anne and Edward had been privately concerned about Andrew and wanted to check on him. But Charles's view is that he should not be in the public eye. His Majesty was not thrilled at all."

Charles and Edward were united in grief in 2022

Despite their well-documented strife and differing ways of life, King Charles III and Prince Edward were brought together in grief when Queen Elizabeth II — the longest-reigning monarch in British history — died on September 8, 2022. As noted by ET Online, both brothers — as well as their wives — traveled to Balmoral Castle in Scotland to be by the queen's side when she died. Sadly, only Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort, made it in time to say goodbye to the beloved monarch. Edward and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, arrived in Scotland shortly after she passed along with Prince William, and Prince Harry arrived soon after that. Despite years — if not decades — of distance and public scandal, the royal family united as just that, a family, when the storied monarch passed. To say that it marked the end of an era is an understatement.

"As a family, we have grown up learning to share our parents, especially our beloved mama, with the Nation, her Realms and the Commonwealth," Edward stated on the royal family's Instagram account shortly after the queen's passing. "While it has been lovely to have spent time saying our own farewell privately at Balmoral, it is now time to allow others to be able to say their farewell."