He was Britain’s before he was hers
Mere moments after Prince Charles was born, he was whisked away to be viewed by the royal courtiers who had served his grandfather, King George VI (Elizabeth’s II’s father). This was no ordinary newborn: this was Britain’s next king. Unlike Queen Elizabeth II, who did not become heir to the throne until she was ten (that was when her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated, changing the line of succession forever), Charles was immediately under the public’s intense gaze, with Elizabeth’s mothering under intense scrutiny.
She was “detached”
When Jonathan Dimbleby interviewed friends of Prince Charles for his authorised biography, The Prince of Wales: A Biography, they noted that Queen Elizabeth had been somewhat “detached” as a mother, according to Prince Charles: The Passion and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life. While delighted with her firstborn, the 22-year-old Elizabeth spent little time with him during his first year. It wasn’t that she was indifferent to him so much as that royal duty called, and from the moment of his birth, Charles was being groomed for those same duties.
His father had him “cowed”
In his biography of Prince Charles, Dimbleby noted that Charles was often “cowed” by his father’s brusquely critical personality. “Friends who spoke with Charles’s permission described the duke’s ‘belittling’ and even ‘bullying’ his son,” Vanity Fair writes. And while Philip’s intention was to help Charles to “toughen up,” it may well have been one of the reasons he’s been described as extraordinarily sensitive, as well as a people-pleaser.