12 Times King Charles Showed His Affectionate Side

For all that the royals are known for — their jewels, high society way of life, their billions in the bank — perhaps the members of the firm are best known for their stiff upper lip approach to just about everything deemed emotional. The late Queen Elizabeth II was on the throne for 70 years, assuming the crown in 1952. It wasn't until 1997 that she cried in public for the first time, and she would only do so a handful of times after. Her daughter, Princess Anne, is arguably the most stoic of all the royals, regularly putting on a brave face no matter the occasion. Even when she was accompanying her mother's casket throughout Great Britain so mourners could pay their respects, Anne maintained her decorum.

Showing emotion or releasing official statements in the wake of tragedy is just not the royal way of doing things. Even when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were in a terrifying car chase in New York City in May 2023, the palace declined to comment, proving once again that releasing anything on the record about an emotionally-charged incident is not their way of doing things. However, on choice occasions, King Charles III has shown his softer side, especially when it comes to the close members of his family — especially his grandchildren. The monarch is the head of one of the most notoriously private institutions in the world, but he has a surprising affectionate streak that is displayed now and again.

Charles celebrated Camilla in the sweetest way in 2019

King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, are known for maintaining their decorum while in public. Never overly touchy or affectionate with one another, the two royals often keep a safe distance between themselves and clearly focus on the task at hand — but a birthday did change that in 2019.

While attending the 70th anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act in Exmoor National Park as part of their official visit to Cornwall and Devon, the then-prince and duchess celebrated Camilla's 72nd birthday with the help of the national park's staff. After the entire group sang "Happy Birthday" to the then-Duchess of Cornwall, Charles embraced his wife with a warm hug, a very rare sight to behold for the couple.

Charles certainly appears to go out of his way to celebrate Camilla when her birthday comes around each year, always seeming to top himself with grand gestures. For his wife's 60th milestone, the royal went as far as conducting a piece of music for her with the Philharmonia; he is a patron of the organization, and was convinced to go all out. "[Conductor Christopher Warren Green] was terribly keen I should conduct it," Charles shared about the birthday treat. "I said, 'You must be out of your mind.' Finally he persuaded me against my better judgment and we did it as a special surprise."

Queen Elizabeth II and Charles shared this heartwarming moment in 2012

Queen Elizabeth II and then-Prince Charles didn't exactly share a mother-son relationship that was full of shared interests, sweet moments, and everyday affection, but they did manage to enjoy each other's company over the years. In a surprising interaction caught on-camera, Elizabeth and Charles were in Braemar, Scotland, attending a field day event that featured a children's sack race. 

While it isn't exactly clear what was transpiring in front of them, the mother and son were photographed sharing genuine laughter with one another. The queen was giggling as Charles was leaning in toward her mid-belly laugh — it was a sight to see, given that the two haven't always shared a close relationship.

Commenting on their body language and dynamic when Charles was young, expert Judi James told Express that much of Elizabeth's relationship with her son was guided by her role as queen and the era in which she raised him. "The very hurtful rumor that has circulated the royal family for decades is that the queen was a very cold and distant mother to her son Charles," James said. "Over the years her mothering skills have been blamed for his own coldness to his first wife Diana and even for rifts with his own sons, William and Harry," she continued, before noting that Elizabeth approached parenting simply on her own terms.

Charles and Catherine shared this lovely moment at a dazzling film premiere

All eyes were on the royal family when King Charles III, Queen Camilla, Prince William, and Princess Catherine attended the film premiere of "No Time to Die," the latest iteration of James Bond. It was a rare joint event where the two couples were seen together on the red carpet, and Charles and Catherine shared a sweet moment as father and daughter-in-law. Looking absolutely stunning in a gold Jenny Packham gown, Catherine embraced her father-in-law and the two shared an affectionate kiss on the cheek. They proceeded to take in all the glitz and glam of the evening, meeting actor Daniel Craig and rubbing shoulders with musicians Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell.

With regard to their relationship — which has often been seen as strong in the public eye — body language expert Judi James broke down Catherine and Charles' interactions with one another, noting that they appear to display a mutual sense of admiration and respect. "Kate and Charles do seem to have a rather special relationship that shows up visibly in public as the pair seem to single each other out for attention and empathetic signaling," James said. "Their body language together suggests they are tuned in to each other, using flattery and mirroring signals to show some like-minded thinking or appreciation of a joke," she continued, noting that Catherine and Charles share a sense of humor that Camilla doesn't seem to tap into as the king's spouse.

William and Charles embraced during the 10-year anniversary of Diana's death

The world stood still in August 1997, when it was revealed that Diana Spencer had died as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident. The people's princess was universally adored, and her passing shocked the Commonwealth and the international community as a whole. Her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, were only 15 and 12 respectively when she died, and the public watched as the young boys grieved their mother. 

Ten years after her passing, William and Harry were joined by members of the royal family — including their father and Diana's ex-husband, King Charles III – to commemorate her and honor her life. The royals were supported by hundreds of the public who gathered to remember Diana, and William and Charles were seen embracing one another on the emotionally charged day. For a father who has been criticized in the past for not showing much emotion, the interaction came as a welcomed surprise.

Speaking at the 10-year anniversary event, Harry shed light on his and William's mourning, revealing that their mother marks a beginning and an end in their lives. "William and I can separate life into two parts. There were those years when we were blessed with the physical presence beside us of both our mother and father, and then there are the 10 years since our mother's death," Harry said at the time. "She was our guardian, friend and protector."

Charles and his niece Zara shared a sweet interaction at the Royal Ascot

Given that Princess Anne is such a stoic royal, you'd would think that her daughter, Zara Tindall, would follow her footsteps — but think again. Zara is known for her playful spirit and outwardly expressive personality, and she and her uncle, King Charles III, share a particularly close relationship (especially by royal standards). Notably, the two had a sweet interaction at the Royal Ascot in 2022, embracing one another and exchanging a kiss on the cheek. Given that Charles is usually reserved when it comes to physical affection, their hug was a bit surprising for royal watchers. 

Body language expert Judi James, on the other hand, saw it as an extension of their close bond. "The body language dynamic between Zara and her uncle Charles has been giving joy for many years," James told Express of the uncle-niece duo. "You might expect Zara to tone her playfully affectionate rituals down with her uncle. But instead she seems intent on cutting through any formal stuff by instigating some very dominant-looking hugs that seem to both surprise and delight the [then] prince."

Charles supported Harry during this important 2014 event

While Prince Harry has been a member of the royal family since birth, he left his royal duties behind early on in life and joined the armed forces. Serving two tours in Afghanistan, Harry has since dedicated much of his philanthropic work to veteran's affairs, and as such started the Invictus Games — a multi-sport event held for and by military members. Launching the games in 2014, Harry went up to the podium to deliver a speech and was supported by his father, then-Prince Charles, who embraced his son earlier in the day and sat attentively during the talk. After the fact, Harry revealed just how nervous he was to speak in front of all those who had gathered for the event, even going as far to say that it was his least eloquent speech of his career.

"[I was nervous about] the whole planning, whether it was going to come together, whether people were going to turn up, whether we were going to fill seats," Harry said (per The Standard), noting that he was anxious despite having his father, step-mother, and brother in the audience supporting him. "I knew I had a certain window to be able to get my words out and we were also running behind [schedule]. It's probably one of the worst speeches I've ever given." It was a success, however, and the event has carried on ever since.

Louis and Charles stole the show during this sweet moment

Nothing is sweeter than a grandfather doting on his grandchildren, and King Charles III was in full-on grandparent mode during Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee in the summer of 2022. Celebrating the now-late monarch with a number of festivities, Charles was joined by Prince William, Princess Catherine, and their three children (Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis) for the jubilee pageant. What transpired was the sweetest display of affection showing the close bond that Louis and Charles share — and luckily for us, it was all caught on camera.

Louis was being his normal rambunctious self when he appeared to ask his mom if he could go sit on his grandfather's lap. He proceeded to run over to Charles and climb on top of him, taking in the pageant with the royal. The then-prince bounced Louis on his knee and even placed his head on the little boy, creating the delightful photo opportunity.

"How utterly charming that was," a palace insider told People after the fact. "When you consider that he has been said to be a remote parent, to see him do that was charming." Noting that William and Catherine's children spend quite a lot of time with her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, the source continued, "it was lovely to see his other grandfather enjoying time with him too."

Charles and his father shared a rare affectionate moment in 2014

To say that Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II were of a different generation is an understatement. The two spent decades representing a version of the monarchy that was rooted in history. Naturally, physical affection wasn't a part of their daily way of interacting with one another and their children, and the most interaction they did have with each other came while taking in horse events

We know it sounds a little odd, but whether it was the Royal Ascot horse races or on the polo field, the royals interacted with one another in the most casual and affectionate way while taking in the sights, and that was certainly the case for King Charles III and his father. One of their more recent displays of affection before Philip's death in 2021 came thanks to the Royal Ascot in 2014. Charles greeted his father with a kiss on the cheek as they gathered to watch the races unfold.

Even as a child, Charles was almost always shown more affection — at least per the cameras — while at a horse-related event. When it came to polo, he started appearing on the field to watch his father all the way back in 1948, the same year he was born. Philip was an avid polo player and engaged in the game until he was 50, before taking up carriage driving. From there, Charles also partook in the sport, as do his sons.

Charles showed affection towards his mother during this 1985 moment

Any royal watcher will tell you that the 1980s and 1990s were not smooth for the royal family, particularly for King Charles III. His marriage to Diana Spencer arguably got off on the wrong foot, and it went quickly downhill from there. It was estimated by critics after their divorce that Charles had tried to express his unhappiness to his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, to no avail; it was only after Diana's infamous 1995 BBC interview that the monarch saw the gravity of the situation. 

With all that said, it certainly came as a shock to see Charles and Elizabeth have any kind of affectionate interaction during this time, but they did share a sweet moment in 1985 at — you guessed it — the polo field. The queen gave Charles a prize at Windsor, and he proceeded to sweetly kiss her on the hand. Who knew that all that tension could be covered up for a moment of affection?

Still, things would only get worse for the mother and son from there. Martin Charteris, the queen's private secretary, told The Times that Charles "must have been baffled by what a natural mother-son relationship was meant to be like" given how distant he and the queen were said to be throughout his life. Their relationship was said to have taken another hit when Charles' authorized biography painted her as "not indifferent so much as detached." Yikes.

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie shared a sweet interaction with Charles back in 2011

Simply a smile on King Charles III's part is an affectionate moment, and that was the case in 2011 when he shared a carriage with his nieces, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, in 2011. Attending the Royal Ascot together, the foursome — as they were also joined by Camilla, Queen Consort — smiled and appeared at ease with one another while being transported to the ascot's opening day. Given that they haven't always had a close bond, the joint appearance between the sisters and the senior royals was welcomed by fans.

Such a moment wasn't built to last, however. Body language expert Judi James commented on yet another Royal Ascot carriage appearance made by the uncle and his nieces, this time in 2018. By then, Prince Andrew's public life had started to dissolve due to his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and the allegations made against him, and it certainly impacted Charles' relationships with his brother's daughters.

"Beatrice still face-gazes Charles with warm affection in some of these poses but Eugenie is seen sucking her lips in, and in one pose in the carriage, both sisters appear to be looking rather distant," James told Express. "Eugenie might be the younger sister, but she always seems to take a more confident and even nurturing role with Beatrice. Beatrice seems to be glancing at her sister as though keen to mimic her non-verbal reaction to Camilla and Charles in public."

Charles and Camilla shared a rare PDA moment during this 2005 outing

Despite having been romantically connected since the 1970s, King Charles III and Queen Camilla have rarely shared public displays of affection. Their first kiss in the guise of the public came in 2001 while attending a reception at Somerset House. The affectionate moment occurred years before the wedding, and royal watchers weren't given another smooch between them for another four years. But, the day finally did roll around when Charles and Camilla locked lips in public, and it was — drumroll please — on a polo field. After Charles played a game at the Cirencester Park Polo Club, Camilla presented him with his prize and the two quickly kissed in front of the cameras. Adorable!

It wouldn't be until 2017 that Charles and Camilla kissed again in public. While on their 11-day long tour of Southeast Asia and India, Charles and Camilla flew separately and kissed upon their reunion. The king arrived on the RAF Voyager, whereas Camilla joined him after embarking on a private vacation. In her flower-printed dress and usual swept hair, the brief moment of PDA between the royal couple came as a welcome surprise, given that it had been 12 years since they had been spotted kissing in public.

Charles had a sweet moment with Spain's Queen Letizia in 2022

While the British royal family are certainly the most prominent monarchical figures both within the Commonwealth and beyond, Europe is home to many royal families that all rule — or serve in a ceremonial role. As it happens, the British royals are close with a number of other rulers from mainland Europe, but particularly with Queen Letizia of Spain, who has traveled to England on a number of occasions to visit with King Charles III. 

In a sweet moment of affection between the king and queen of differing countries, Charles kissed Letizia on the hand while greeting her at Auckland Castle, welcoming her to tour a new exhibition of Spaniard Francisco de Zurbarán's artwork. Being that it was 2022 and Charles had become known for greeting people with the namaste bow to abide by COVID-19 protocols, the kiss he gave Letizia came as a welcome surprise.

This certainly wasn't the first time that Charles and Letizia joined each other for a high-profile occasion, however. When COVID-19 protocols were loosened and people could once again gather, a Service of Thanksgiving was held in Prince Philip's honor. Royal watchers will recall that only a handful of royals were allowed to attend his April 2021 funeral due to the pandemic. Letizia was among the foreign royals who made the trip to England to honor Philip, and we'll certainly see her again throughout Charles' reign.