New Reports Reveal Prince Charles' Questionable Behavior Right After Harry's Birth

These days, Prince Charles frequently makes headlines for his actions as a doting grandfather. During the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, royals fans couldn't get enough of the sweet footage of the Prince of Wales holding and rocking his grandson, Prince Louis, on his lap. "How utterly charming that was," a source told People back in June. "When you consider that he has been said to be a remote parent, to see him do that was charming."

When his children were younger, Charles had a reputation for being ensconced in his work, leaving the day-to-day tasks of parenting to Princess Diana. "[L]ike many people who are seeking to make a difference in the world, he has sometimes overlooked friends and loved ones beside him," royal author Penny Junor told The Daily Beast.

Over the years, Charles has seen some of his parenting decisions criticized in the media. In June 1991, he was spotted having a night out at the opera while Prince William was having surgery after a golf club fractured his skull, per Vanity Fair. "What sort of a dad are you?" asked the Daily Mirror, reacting to the news (via Kidspot). Now, an upcoming documentary is dredging up the past once again, and shining a light on one of Charles' less-than-stellar parenting moments. 

Prince Charles put polo first instead of parenting

On August 13, 2022, HBO will debut "The Princess," a documentary showcasing archival footage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's marriage and family. Part of the film chronicles Prince Harry's early days, including the couple bringing Harry home for the first time. "Then, less than an hour later, Prince Charles left to play polo — something most new fathers would hardly dare to suggest," says the archival audio, per Marie Claire.

This new documentary isn't the first time Charles' sporting activities right after Harry's birth have been mentioned. Previously, ITV's 2020 documentary, "The Diana Interview: Revenge of a Princess," included reminiscences from a photographer who was on the scene to photograph newborn Harry in 1984, per The Mirror. Ken Lennox was astounded when a fellow photographer told him that Prince Charles was planning to leave Diana and Harry to play polo. Lennox felt so sure Prince Charles wouldn't behave this way that he bet — and lost — £50. "I couldn't believe that a man with a newborn baby was going to leg it and play some daft game of Polo," Lennox said. "Doing something like that to a wife with a newborn baby was atrocious. If he thought he could treat his wife that, he was in deep trouble."

Harry's birth had additional significance for Diana and Charles' relationship. "[S]uddenly, as Harry was born, it just went bang, our marriage," Diana told biographer Andrew Morton, per Daily Express. "The whole thing went down the drain."

Princess Diana was worried about Charles' reaction to Harry before he was born

When Princess Diana found out she was having a boy during her pregnancy with Prince Harry, she opted to keep the news to herself. Diana knew Prince Charles had his heart set on a girl, and she hoped the excitement of the birth would override any disappointment, per Reader's Digest. Unfortunately, as Diana revealed to author Andrew Morton, Charles' first words when seeing his new son were, "Oh God, it's a boy," (via PopSugar). The Prince of Wales was still feeling let down at Harry's christening, when he allegedly confessed to Diana's mother, "We were so disappointed — we thought it would be a girl."

In contrast, Diana reveled in being a mother to Prince William and Harry, even encouraging their wild antics and pranks. The Princess of Wales was known for being a hands-on mom who spent time playing with her children. Diana worked hard to give them a normal childhood, and even broke royal protocol to walk the boys to school, per Mabel + Moxie.

While Diana was actively involved in William and Harry's daily lives, Charles was more focused on his royal duties. "When we were kids, there was bags and bags and bags of work," William recalled in the documentary "Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70," per Hello! Magazine. "We could barely even get to his desk to say goodnight to him."

Prince Charles and Prince Harry's relationship has evolved over time

It hasn't been all negative when it comes to Prince Charles' parenting skills. Charles offered valuable care and support to Prince William and Prince Harry when Princess Diana died. Speaking in the documentary, "Diana, 7 Days," Harry said, "[Our dad] was there for us — he was the one out of two left, and he tried to do his best and to make sure that we were protected and looked after," per Kidspot.

Harry also appreciated his father's sweet gesture during his wedding. Charles walked Meghan Markle down the aisle when her father couldn't attend the ceremony. "I don't think people realize quite how kind he is," Harry commented, per Us Weekly.

For Charles, public criticism of his parenting has sometimes been difficult to take, especially if it comes from a source close to home. "Deep down he is a very sensitive man," said royal author Ingrid Seward, prior to the release of Prince Harry's documentary, "The Me You Can't See." "I think it will hurt having Harry criticizing him so publicly," she added, per Vanity Fair.

Even though Prince Harry and Prince Charles' relationship has had its ups and downs, the Duke of Sussex has acknowledged he and his father have a deep bond. "I will always love him. There's a lot of hurt that's happened. I will continue to make it one of my priorities to heal that relationship," (via Us Weekly.)