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Queen Elizabeth's Relationships With Her 4 Children Are Just As Complex As You Might Think

Georgia Davis
Photo credit: Anwar Hussein Collection/ROTA - Getty Images

From Women's Health

As anyone who's a fan of The Crown knows, most royal relationships are a little complicated. The latest debacle: The awkward moment between Queen Elizabeth and Princess Anne after Anne seemingly breached royal protocol by not greeting Donald Trump at a palace reception. (But more on this later).

Since The Crown premiered on Netflix in 2016, non-royal viewers have been given a peek into all the strategizing and negotiations that go on inside the walls of Buckingham Palace. The third season of the drama, which premiered on the streaming site on November 17th, introduced viewers to new characters and went deeper into the relationships between Queen Elizabeth and her four children.

Until Netflix (or gossip sites) fulfills your wish of more #royal content (come on, season four!), here's everything you need to know about Queen Elizabeth's children:

Queen Elizabeth's first son: Charles, Prince of Wales

The Queen was just 22 when she gave birth to husband Prince Philip’s first son and heir to the throne, Charles. He was born on November 14, 1948, which meant he was only 3 years old when his mother ascended the throne, according to the BBC.

Prince Charles became the longest-serving heir apparent in 2011 (surpassing the previous record of 59 years, two months and 13 days, set by his great-great-grandfather, King Edward VII). For those keeping track at home, Queen Elizabeth has reigned for more than six decades—and she’s still got it. (Sorry, Charlie.)

While most kids were practicing multiplication at age 9, Prince Charles was busy becoming Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. Charles didn’t attend Eton College (a boys’ boarding school founded by King Henry VI) like most British royals. Instead, he went to Prince Philip’s alma mater, Gordonstoun, in Scotland, after transferring from Cheam School. He didn’t have the easiest time at boarding school, especially with his royal blood, per Vanity Fair.

After secondary school, Charles went to Trinity College, where he became the first royal heir apparent to get a degree, according to Times Higher Education. He studied anthropology, archaeology, and history and even spent time studying at archaeological sites in France.

Take a rare look inside the Queen's complicated relationship with her four children:

Once he was done living the bachelor life, Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer, who was 13 years his junior. The wedding came with much media attention, but Queen Elizabeth reportedly wasn’t particularly fond of the famous princess, per numerous accounts. Princess Di and Prince Charles divorced in 1996, just a year before her death in 1997. Charles remarried in 2005 to Camilla Parker Bowles, who is now Duchess of Cornwall.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles allegedly weren’t close while he was growing up. The Queen left most of her parenting to the nannies, according to Prince Charles. In his 1994 authorized biography by Jonathan Dimbleby, Charles said that it was "inevitably the nursery staff" who watched the young royal take his first steps and taught him life lessons, per Town & Country.

But the heir apparent was close with Queen Elizabeth’s mother, aptly titled The Queen Mother, until she died in 2002. Speaking at her funeral, Prince Charles said that his grandmother "meant everything" to him and that he had "adored her" since childhood.

Queen Elizabeth's only daughter: Anne, Princess Royal

Less than two years after Prince Charles was born, Queen Elizabeth gave birth to Anne, Princess Royal. She was born on August 15, 1950, when QE II was 24. Anne is the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. She is currently 14th in line to the throne (due to the patriarchal ascension system...ugh), behind her three brothers plus their children and grandchildren.

Unlike Prince Charles, Princess Anne rejects the notion that Queen Elizabeth was an uncaring mother. Sure, the nursery staff did some of the heavy lifting, but according to her, the Queen made sure to spend quality time with her children. "I simply don’t believe there is any evidence whatsoever to suggest that she wasn’t caring. It’s just beggars belief," Princess Anne told the BBC in 2002. Anne and Queen Elizabeth bonded over their love for horses, and Anne became the first royal to participate in the Olympics, according to the organization's website.

There’s reason to believe Queen Elizabeth didn’t fully approve of her daughter’s actions, especially her divorce from Captain Mark Phillips, with whom she shared two children, Zara and Peter, per The Telegraph. The divorce was finalized in 1992 after it was revealed Phillips fathered a child outside their marriage. (His paternity was confirmed in 1991.)

That gave the Princess Royal an out, so she married once-rumored love Royal Navy Commanding Officer Timothy Laurence, per E! News. Now, Princess Anne works with more than 300 charities, according to the Royal Family's official website, and makes roughly 500 appearances a year, Woman magazine reported.

Most recently, Princess Anne made headlines for apparently refusing to greet Donald Trump and then shrugging in response to a slight scolding from the Queen during a Buckingham Palace reception held as part of a NATO summit in London. Some U.S. politicians viewed the incident as public slight of the president, as reported by ABC News, but that doesn't appear to be the whole story.

According to CNN, the interaction between royal mother and daughter had nothing to do with Trump. Instead, the Queen was looking to see who was next in line to be greeted and the Princess' gesture and remark should have been read as a humorous response of, "It's just me..and this lot." Not a part of the official welcoming party, Princess Anne was actually just standing to the side and waiting for visiting dignitaries to finish entering the reception first. So there you have it.

Queen Elizabeth's second son: Prince Andrew, Duke of York

Nearly 10 years separate Anne and Prince Andrew, who was born February 19, 1960, when Queen Elizabeth was 33. As the third child—but second son—of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Prince Andrew is eighth in line to the crown, directly behind Archie Mountbatten-Windsor (a.k.a. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's son). Prince Andrew’s older brother and sister were born before the Queen’s ascension, making him the first child born to a sitting monarch in 103 years, according to Biography.

By the time Prince Andrew was born, Queen Elizabeth had reigned for eight years. That made her more comfortable in her role, so she became a more hands-on mother, per Robert Lacey's biography of the queen, Monarch: The Life and Reign of Elizabeth II. The Queen even spent time "cycling and chasing" her younger children through Buckingham Palace.

Andrew has been wrapped up in several scandals over the years, starting with his almost-marriage to actress Koo Stark in the 1980s. (Koo later won a libel suit against Viacom for being described as a porn star by the media, per the Press Gazette.) The prince was introduced to his future wife, Sarah Ferguson, by Princess Diana, according to Hello!. The couple wed in 1986, and they had two children before divorcing in 1996 (which, like her other children's divorces, likely didn't please the Queen).

But the biggest scandal of Prince Andrew’s royal career is happening right now. According to the BBC, in 1999, Andrew started palling around with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died by suicide in prison earlier this year.

Beyond that, one woman, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has accused Prince Andrew of sexually abusing her when she was introduced to him via Epstein at age 17, People reported. Buckingham Palace has formally said that those allegations are false, but this story is currently ongoing. Most recently, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra severed ties with Prince Andrew, and he was asked to move his office out of Buckingham Palace, CNBC reports. The Queen has also allegedly cancelled the Prince's 60th birthday party that was scheduled for next February, per The Times.

Queen Elizabeth's third son: Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex

Prince Edward is the youngest of Queen Elizabeth’s children, making him 11th in line for the throne. He was born March 10, 1964, when the Queen was 37. People say the youngest child gets the most love, and it definitely seems that holds true for Edward.

Prince Edward and his wife, Countess Sophie Rhys-Jones, are said to be the Queen and Prince Philip’s favorites, according to Town & Country. Maybe it’s because Prince Edward is the only child of theirs not to divorce. The couple married in 1999 and have two children together.


Edward also has a seemingly clean record and is a full-time royal. He holds two titles, the other being Earl of Forfar (in Scotland)—which he received for his birthday in 2018. (Now, that’s a bday gift.)

If the favoritism wasn’t already apparent, there are rumors Prince Edward will assume Prince Philip’s Duke of Edinburgh title when he dies, per Town & Country.

As The Crown gets further into dramatizing the present-day life of the Royals, fans will get a front-row seat to see how these relationships will play out on screen. Already, it’s safe to say that the family might not be too happy with their portrayals. (Looking at you, Charles.)

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