Inside King Charles' Relationship With Each Of His Grandkids

Given how frequently the British royal family is in the news, it's easy to forget that they are actually a family as well as an institution. It's almost as if the firm should be separated into two different entities — the royal family as the living, breathing organism that maintains the sanctity of the crown and operates with specific interests and business values, and the family members who somehow try to exist within such an unusual environment. Amid press offices and PR representatives lie the ins and outs of any other family, with complexities, scandals, and boundaries galore.

Stripping away the pomp of the royals, the bunch are quite a large-reaching family. Starting with the late Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the pair had four children. In order from oldest to youngest, they are King Charles III, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward. Given the line of succession, Princess Anne was automatically skipped as the second heir to the throne by her brother's children. As it stands, King Charles' direct heir is Prince William, followed by his grandson Prince George, his granddaughter Princess Charlotte, and his grandson Prince Louis. Then follows Prince Harry, and then his son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, and little Lilibet Mountbatten-Windsor.

But what does all this mean when familial relationships are concerned? As it happens, King Charles has more complex and robust relationships with his grandchildren than you might think.

King Charles quickly bonded with Prince George as a first-time grandpa

Taking the line of succession and the pressures of being a member of the royal family off the table for a second, King Charles actually has a really sweet relationship with his eldest grandchild, Prince George. When the young prince was just 2 years old, a royal source confirmed to People that Prince George was a frequent visitor at King Charles' Highgrove House and that the then-heir to the throne had outfitted the gardens with a playground just for Prince William and Princess Catherine's eldest child. The two were said to share "garden picnics" with each other on the grounds, and King Charles even had a "garden hut" for Prince George to mark his first birthday.

"Hut" might be a bit of a loose term — People noted that the little outdoor haven included a small stove, a day bench bed, and could be transported around the Highgrove property given that the entire hut sat on a wrought-iron frame and wheels. Given to King Charles by Plankbridge — a craftsman's business that benefited from The Prince's Trust — the "hut" found a nice spot among Highgrove's wildflower garden, allowing the little prince to escape the troubles of royal life for a serene afternoon in the great outdoors. Along with the hut was a treehouse — originally built for Prince William all the way back in 1988 — that Prince George was also said to enjoy. Clearly, Grandpa's house is the place to be.

The king shared common interests with little George early on

Not only did King Charles outfit his Highgrove property with toys just for Prince George, but he shared his feelings about becoming a grandparent for the first time in 2013. King Charles told The Telegraph (via Express) that it was "important" to him to connect with Prince George, and reflected on his own close relationship with his grandmother, the Queen Mother. "The great thing is to encourage [grandchildren]. ... Show them things to take their interest. My grandmother did that, she was wonderful," he said. "It is very important to create a bond when they are very young."

King Charles shared that he and Prince George spent quite a bit of time outdoors together, finding that they connected over a shared love of gardening and watching the plants at Highgrove grow over time. "The most important thing is I got him [George] planting a tree or two here, so we planted it together and shovelled in the earth," he said. "That's the way I think, when you are very small, and then each time they come you say, 'Do you see how much the tree has grown?', or whatever, and you hope that they take an interest."

What else did King Charles and the prince bond over other than the great outdoors? The British classic "Harry Potter," Camilla, Queen Consort, later shared, revealing that the king reads the series to Prince George whenever they are in Scotland together (via Express).

King Charles accepted that his grandchildren would see their other set of grandparents more often

Just because they're royals doesn't mean that they don't have in-laws, and when King Charles became a grandparent, he understood that Princess Catherine's parents — Carole and Mike Middleton — might see the kids more often than himself. Though he was said to "come alive" around his little grandchildren, a royal insider told People in 2017 that the longtime heir to the throne accepted that Princess Catherine's more maternal nature might have her relying on her own parents more than her in-laws — a rather balanced perspective, if we do say so. "He is pragmatic about it. He is accepting that a daughter gravitates toward her own family," the source said. The source further noted that as parents, Prince William and Princess Catherine even chose to forego the royal Christmas traditions held at Sandringham one year so they could go to her hometown of Bucklebury to spend time with her parents — King Charles, though missing his grandchildren surely, was accepting of the changing traditions.

"Charles and Camilla absolutely adore being grandparents and are enthralled with Charlotte and George," the source added (via People). "Charles is a warm and caring guy, but he comes even more alive around little George. He loves spending time with him."

Prince George could be a strategic part of King Charles' time as king, according to an expert

Remember when we told you to put the line of succession and the pressures of being a member of the royal family on the back burner? Bring it back to the forefront, as Prince George could be a strategic part of King Charles' time on the throne, according to historian Cindy McCreery. When Queen Elizabeth was alive, her subjects essentially grew up with her four children, and it wasn't until they started having kids of their own that the royal family started changing. McCreery told 9Honey that King Charles could potentially use Prince George — and his younger siblings — to remind the British public of not only their familial status but to inject youth into the royal mix.

"On the one hand, they are young, and I do think that they will genuinely want to protect them, and as their grandfather Charles will want to protect them," McCreery started (via 9Honey). "But on the other hand, I think that strategic use ... of the children will help Charles get over an issue he has — which is that he's coming to the throne as a 73-year-old, much, much older, than his mother came to the throne." Calling the tactic a "delicate balance," McCreery further added that Prince George and his siblings will likely become "more visible" throughout King Charles' time on the throne, aiding in his popularity and status as he takes over the monarchy.

King Charles is said to be holding a special title for Princess Charlotte

In case you missed it, titles are a big deal in the monarchy. They symbolize status and a sense of nobility and are often historically tied to important figures. As for the Duke of Edinburgh title — it's now one of the most sought-after titles in the British royal family.

When Prince Edward, Queen Elizabeth's youngest child, married Sophie, Countess of Wessex, it was announced that the Duke of Edinburgh title would be given to him after the passing of his parents (via Hello!). Famously held by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh inherits a sizable dukedom — plans, however, have changed since then. As noted by the Daily Mail, King Charles has yet to bestow the title on his brother and is instead holding out to one day give it to Princess Charlotte, his second eldest grandchild. This decision comes as Princess Charlotte is the first royal female not to be circumvented in the line of succession by her younger brother, Prince Louis.

"Discussions are under way, but the favoured outcome for the King is that this title ought to go to Princess Charlotte," a source told the Daily Mail. "It would be a fitting way to remember the queen — who, of course, had the title Duchess of Edinburgh."

The king made his thoughts on Princess Charlotte's future known when she was born

There's something about a middle kid, and there's even something more about being the first granddaughter. It's a role within a family that is often most doted upon, and King Charles made his thoughts about little Princess Charlotte clear shortly after she was born to Prince William and Princess Catherine. 

During an official visit to the Poundbury community, King Charles told royal patrons that the little princess was "beautiful," and that she would hopefully fulfill a role for him later in life."[I was] hoping for a grand-daughter," the king said, as noted by Cosmopolitan. "Someone to look after me when I am very old!" This may, in fact, give even more depth to King Charles' relationship with the princess. The two are not only close but Princess Charlotte's name is said to be a nod to the king, as "Charlotte" is the feminine version of "Charles." 

As for how involved King Charles is in his young granddaughter's life, Cosmopolitan further noted that the king has been known to meet the kids at their level. Reflecting in the BBC documentary, "Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70," Camilla, Queen Consort, said that the royal tends to "get down on his knees and crawl about with them for hours ... making funny noises and laughing."

King Charles and Prince Louis quickly bonded and their close relationship is apparent

If there is one royal that consistently steals the show, it's Prince Louis. The young prince has a penchant for silly faces and shows everyone who's boss, even his grandfather King Charles. Prince Louis and the king are said to have a close — if not the closest — bond of any of his grandchildren (via MyLondon). Their affection for one another was quickly on display as Prince Louis started popping up on the royal scene.

The first real sign of their sweet connection came when King Charles sat with his family for a birthday portrait in 2018 (via the Daily Mail). Instead of sitting politely in his mother's arms, Prince Louis wriggled forward and reached for the king's nose. He darted for his grandfather's face, and naturally, the whole family was in hysterics over the little boy's antics.

After the sweet photos taken in the Clarence House gardens went viral, all eyes were on Prince Louis and King Charles as they made another appearance together. In 2019, Prince Louis joined his family during the Trooping the Colour parade which was also his debut and was pictured with his parents on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. But instead of taking in the impressive air show, Prince Louis waved emphatically to the crowd, turning his attention to his grandpa (via YouTube). King Charles doted on him in such a sweet moment showing the special bond between the two.

Prince Louis kept King Charles on his toes during Queen Elizabeth's jubilee celebrations

Shortly before her passing in 2022, Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Platinum Jubilee. It was, by all accounts, an extremely impressive and personal moment for the monarch. The royal family was out in full force much to the public's joy, that included Prince Louis, the rambunctious prince. Joining his parents and older siblings at a concert for the queen, Prince Louis clearly needed some stimulation. After making a funny face at his mom and running up the theater aisle, the prince decided that grandpa's lap would be the best spot — he ran over to King Charles, plopped down on his lap, and the royal rested his head on Prince Louis' shoulder. No matter if you're an avid royal fan or simply a passerby, it was a lovely moment between the two — social media, of course, took notice.

"I'm sure Prince Charles has a special relationship with his grandchildren but with Prince Louis you can tell it's different. You can see how close they are," one commenter wrote on Twitter of the special moment. "There's a certain connection between them that is beautiful to see. It's beautiful to see Charles being a grandfather."

Yet another Twitter user pointed out King Charles' well-documented love for Louis Mountbatten, his uncle and father figure that greatly impacted his life. "How he must enjoy the name living on in the family, in his own, and clearly adored, grandson," the commenter pointed out.

King Charles would be willing to do anything for Archie, according to an expert

We've covered Prince William and Princess Catherine's children and their individual bonds with their grandfather, King Charles, but what about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's kids? Well, that dynamic is more complex. Shortly after their son Archie was born, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their intentions to step back as senior members of the royal family. 

Moving to California, the couple certainly aren't in close physical proximity to the king but according to an inside source who spoke to New Idea (via The International News), it's not just an ocean between them that has kept King Charles from bonding with his stateside grandson. "Charles wishes he had a close relationship with his American grandchildren," the source said, noting that the king would be "willing to compromise" on anything in order to establish and maintain a relationship with Archie and his little sister, Lilibet. Prince Harry, meanwhile, is said to be reassessing the situation given that his father had him officially removed as a Counsellors of State, meaning that he can no longer stand in for the king. Due to this, the source shares, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle "have decided that two can play at that game," keeping their distance from the family and maintaining their autonomy and boundaries while doing so. As such, King Charles' relationship with Archie is far less developed than his bond with Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.

The date of King Charles' coronation had some people suspicious for this Archie-related reason

Amid the ongoing royal rift, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been clear in their messaging: The palace did not do anything to protect them from the vitriol they experienced at the hands of the press, and concerns from inside the palace made it clear that accepting a person of color into the firm was easier said than done. Royal watchers have been paying attention to every look shared between Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and the royals, and the date of King Charles' coronation left little to the imagination. 

As noted by Marie Claire, King Charles will be crowned on May 6, 2023, which just so happens to be Archie's birthday. Fans quickly asserted that it couldn't be a coincidence, the date seemingly forcing Prince Harry to pick a side: his family or the firm. According to royal expert Duncan Larcombe, the decision may not have been a stab.

"The people that are seeing this as some kind of deliberate snub to both Harry and Archie are barking up the wrong tree," Larcombe explained (via Marie Claire). "Anyone who has ever organized a major event ... knows that you'll never be able to please everyone on the guest list. ... It will have been one of those situations where those in charge will have thrown multiple diaries together — that of the king, of religious leaders and of government officials — and decided on this date," he concluded. 

Questions about titles have plagued King Charles' relationships with Archie and Lilibet

As the distance between Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and the rest of the royal family grows in size, questions about their children and their titles have cropped up in the headlines. As many royal watchers know, the grandchildren of a monarch are entitled to official HRH titles, i.e., His or Her Royal Highness. But King Charles is said to be holding out for a specific reason. Of course, the end of 2022 brought Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Netflix docuseries, and the first month of 2023 marked the release of Harry's highly anticipated memoir, "Spare." In his efforts to share his authentic story, the palace has been on high alert, and his father is said to be holding out on bestowing the titles on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's children that are rightfully theirs given Prince Harry's public honesty and his status as a non-working royal.

"That is the agreement — [Archie and Lilibet] can be Prince and Princess but not HRH because they are not working royals," an insider told The Sun of the children's future titles. Of the holdout, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are said to be "furious" that their son and daughter aren't being given the distinctions that they are technically entitled to hold. Given that even more distance has occurred between the couple and the palace, time will tell if King Charles will relent and give his California-based grandchildren the titles they deserve.

Prince Harry wants King Charles to have a close bond with Archie and Lilibet

Throughout Prince Harry's memoir, press tour, and interviews, one thing has remained incredibly clear — his critiques largely fall on the British press and the relationship the tabloids have with palace officials. His grievances largely have to do with members of his family using their own press offices to further agendas. With all of this said, Prince Harry made it clear in his exclusive interview with People that he wants his children, Archie and Lilibet, to have a relationship with King Charles, but there is a caveat that is incredibly important to the Duke of Sussex.

"I've said before that I've wanted a family, not an institution — so of course, I would love nothing more than for our children to have relationships with members of my family, and they do with some, which brings me great joy," Prince Harry said (via People). Royal watchers, of course, know that his children have a sweet bond with Princess Eugenie, who has been seen visiting the family of four in California. In his memoir, Prince Harry told People that he wants readers to look at the book with a fresh perspective and "come to their own conclusions" about the royal family as a whole.

"This book and its truths are in many ways a continuation of my own mental health journey. It's a raw account of my life — the good, the bad and everything in between," he said.