Prince Harry speaks out about the lack of touching in the royal family
Prince Harry has discussed the lack of physical affection in the Royal Family and why he wants to break this "multigenerational" issue with his own children, Archie and Lilibet.
Harry was speaking in a livestream with Dr Gabor Maté — a trauma expert, author and physician — about his memoir, Spare, in which he opens up about experiencing a lack of touch as a child, particularly when his father, King Charles, came to tell him of his mother's death.
Harry writes: "Pa didn’t hug me. He wasn’t great at showing emotions under normal circumstances, how could he be expected to show them in such a crisis? But his hand did fall once more on my knee and he said: It’s going to be OK. That was quite a lot for him. Fatherly, hopeful, kind. And so very untrue. He stood and left."
Dr Mate said: "When I read that passage in the book... What struck me in that passage, as in so many other passages in the book, is a lack of touching, the lack of a child being held. How at some point you want to hug your grandmother, but you held back because it wasn't done".
Dr. Maté, who has spoken with Harry once before, said he viewed Harry's upbringing as a "story of deprivation" of love and affection, and that while there was no blame to be attached, the lack of physical affection Harry says Charles himself experienced from his own parents made this a "multigenerational" pattern.
Appearing to agree, Harry said he felt a "huge responsibility" to ensure he didn't continue this pattern with his own children, and that while he didn't want to "smother" them he wants them to have the affection and touch they need.
He told Dr Maté: "As a father with two kids of my own, making sure that I smother them with love and affection, not smother them to the point where they are trying to get away [...] but in the sense that I, as a father, feel that huge responsibility to ensure that I don't pass on any traumas or negative experiences that I've had as a kid."
Elsewhere in his book, Harry recalls a revealing incident involving Charles and Queen Elizabeth. "When he was five or six, Granny left him, went off on a royal tour lasting several months, and when she returned, she offered him a firm handshake. Which may have been more than he ever got from Grandpa."
Dr Gate added: "What it is about this lack of holding and touching and cuddling in this family - it's obviously multigenerational."
Dr. Maté also noted that the bullying Charles experienced when he was young may have contributed to his lack of physical affection. He said: "The father who clearly loves his kids, but just can't help but be emotionally distant because that's how he was raised [...] Charles was bullied mercilessly as a kid, or he was made fun of for his best qualities of sensitivity and intellectual interest, where people are not held and hugged, you know, animals hug there kids".
Harry added that the emotional issues he was dealing made him a "fantastic candidate" for the armed forces who, he said, often "recruit from broken homes".
Watch: The real story of the Royal Family's dysfunctional life behind closed doors