Princess Diana Said That "Shaking Hands" Was the Only Thing Prince Charles Learned About Love

A new biography explains Prince Charles's "emotional retentiveness."

A new work by royal biographer Ingrid Seward may focus on Prince Philip, but according to People, there's plenty to learn about his son, Prince Charles, too. In Prince Philip Revealed, which was excerpted over the weekend with reports in Mail on Sunday, Seward explains that she sat down with Princess Diana and the two discussed Charles's unaffectionate childhood and how it affected their marriage.

"Diana reckoned that if Charles had been brought up in the normal fashion, he would have been better able to handle his and her emotions," Seward wrote. Diana explained that Charles's unusual upbringing manifested itself in his inability to show physical affection and that he "couldn’t be tactile with his own wife."

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales on their wedding day
Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

Diana called it "emotional retentiveness" and Seward writes that the only thing that Charles ever got from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were handshakes, not hugs.

"Instead, she said, his feelings seemed to have been suffocated at birth," Seward continued. "According to her, he never had any hands-on love from his parents. Only his nannies showed him affection but that, as Diana explained, was not the same as being kissed and cuddled by your parents, which Charles never was. When he met his parents, they didn't embrace: they shook hands."

It wasn't entirely unusual for parents to be hands-off, but Seward notes that even for the time, Elizabeth and Philip were unusually distant.

"Even when judged by the standards of the time, Philip and Elizabeth saw remarkably little of their offspring," Seward finished.

Because of his duties as a naval officer, Philip was often away from his family and Seward wrote that he was only home for two of Charles's first eight birthday celebrations. She also pointed out one Christmas where Elizabeth and Charles spent Christmas on Malta instead of at Sandringham House, where she left Charles and Princess Anne for the holidays.

The book, which is set to be released in America on October 20, Seward also writes about Charles's reaction fo Prince Harry stepping away from his duties as a senior member of the royal family and moving away. Charles was having a hard time with it, she says, and saw it as Harry turning his back on his duties.

"He has struggled greatly, for example, with what he sees as his grandson Harry's dereliction of duty," Seward wrote.

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