The future King of the United Kingdom — and, presumably, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, Papa New Guinea, etc. — has long been a figure who knew what he believed, and invests suitable passion into those beliefs. Whether it’s a discussion of architecture, organic farming, alternative medicine, or Islamic mysticism, Prince Charles has never been afraid to speak his mind about those topics that hold his interest. Indeed such outspoken passion has aroused much discussion from supporters and critics alike about the appropriateness of the Heir Presumptive to openly pursue pet projects in this manner in this day and age.
Irrespective of his own thoughts about his son’s frankness about his beliefs, for Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and The Queen’s Prince Consort, such zeal comes as little surprise. As he reportedly explained to his biographer, Gyles Brandreth, Prince Charles is a “romantic”.
Brandreth recalled the conversation ahead of The Queen’s 90th birthdays, in which he asked the Duke what he believed the main difference between him and Prince Charles may have been. In answer to this question, Prince Philip admitted that the main difference was their outlook of the world. While Prince Charles was a romantic, Prince Philip was a pragmatist. In that sense they look at the world very differently.
“And because I don’t look at things as a romantic would,” the Duke of Edinburgh added as an afterthought, “I’m unfeeling.”
To some this may not come as a surprise, given the differing histories of the two. Prince Philip served as a Naval Officer with the British Royal Navy during the Second World War, during which he saw action in the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific theatre. Further, he has seen the downfall of his native Kingdom of Greece and the exile of his family members after the military coup of 1973, the death of his uncle the Earl Louis Mountbatten of Burma at the hands of the IRA, in addition to fighting his brothers-in-law and other relatives and colleagues during the War. In contrast, Prince Charles was brought up during the European Long Peace, in an increasingly diversified, stable and progressive world. While having served in the military himself, the Duke of Cornwall has no combat experience, and has instead found himself more drawn to more cerebral, high-minded pursuits such as environmentalism, religious philosophy, and architecture. Both may offer insight into why Prince Philip may think as such about his son and himself.
Reflecting upon the discussion, which took place in 2004 before Prince Charles married Camilla, the now Duchess of Cornwall, Brandreth believes that the relationship between the two Princes is probably much warmer today. He also noted that the Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth also have markedly different personalities. Whereas The Queen is often “conservative, placid” and “content to do things as they’ve been done before”, Prince Phillip is “dynamic, outgoing, adventurous, challenging”. Brandreth remarked that The Queen generally has more patience than her consort, as well.
There was also the suggestion that Prince Philip can be considered very much the co-author of Her Majesty’s long reign. “The Queen wears the crown,” Brandreth said candidly, “But her husband wears the trousers.”