The King was never “quite ready for parenthood”, Prince Harry has claimed, as he said he will “always love” his father despite their current difficulties.
The Prince said he had “a lot of compassion” for his “Pa”, and that “I would like to get my father back”, as well as his brother, Prince William.
The Duke has insisted he wants reconciliation but paints a picture – both in his autobiography and in his ITV interview with journalist Tom Bradby – of the King as a man ill-equipped to deal with the problems family life has thrown up and unable to find a way forward now that he and Harry are estranged.
He told Bradby that he does not believe either the King or Prince William will read his book or watch his television interviews, although “I really hope they do”.
Throughout his memoir, Spare, the Prince makes clear that his father always referred to him as “darling boy” and tried his best to be supportive in difficult times, not least when his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, died in 1997.
During the ITV interview, the Duke read out a passage from his memoir, which said: “He had always given an air of not being quite ready for parenthood: the responsibilities, the patience, the time.
“Even he, though a proud man, would have admitted as much. But single parenthood? Pa was never made for that. To be fair, he tried.”
Bradby suggested that the main criticisms of the King that are detailed in Spare are “intimacy and communication problems; he’s not there for you as frequently or quite in the way you want”.
The Duke describes in the book how over dinner at his father’s Highgrove home one night, he spoke from the heart about the mental health problems he had been suffering, and that the King said to him: “I suppose it’s my fault. I should have got you the help you needed years ago.”
Bradby put it to the Duke that “one of the things that came across very clearly to me [from the book] is your deep love for your Dad and your Dad’s deep love for you”, to which the Prince replied: “Mm-hmm.”
Bradby added: “He calls you my darling boy, you reference it pretty frequently. ‘I loved him. I needed him.’ You know, you talk about being buoyed by his praise. Right?
“Maybe this isn’t surprising to people. Why should the fact you loved your Dad be surprising, but it is very, very clear. Fair?” The Duke responded: “Of course, he’s my father. I will always love him … I love my father. I love my brother. I love my family.”
He also said: “I would like to get my father back. I would like to have my brother back.”
Bradby asked the Duke what he thought his brother would be thinking if he read the book or watched the interview, to which he replied: “I really don’t think my father or brother will read the book. I really hope they do. But I don’t think they will.
“And with regard to this interview, I don’t know whether they’ll be, you know, watching this or not, but, what they have to say to me and what I have to say to them will be in private, and I hope it can stay that way.”
Asked if he still believes in the monarchy, now with his father at the helm, the Prince replied: “Yes.”
When questioned as to whether he thinks he will play a part in its future, the Duke said: “I don’t know. I really don’t know.”
“Do you hope so?” Bradby asked. “It’s not about hoping so,” the Duke responded. “If my father asks us for support across the Commonwealth then that is certainly an open discussion, but I’m here [in California] now Tom, and my family’s now here.
“You know, we’re doing the same thing, the same job over there, no taxpayer funding, right, it’s not the way that I wanted it to happen, but I have now created a life for my family where I feel safer. Right? So, who knows what’s going to happen?”
Bradby also asked him whether he would go to the Coronation later this year if he was invited, to which he replied: “There’s a lot that can happen between now and then.
“But, you know, the door is always open. The ball is in their court. There is a lot to be discussed and I really hope that they can – that they are willing to sit down and talk about it, because there’s a lot that has happened in six years. And prior to that as well.”
He said his book, and the couple’s recent six-part Netflix documentary series titled Harry & Meghan, were “necessary”, adding: “They were essential for historical fact and significance. I don’t want my kids or other people of that age growing up thinking, ‘Oh wow, this is what happened.’ Like, ‘No, that’s not what happened. This is what happened.’
“And there’s a lot of relief now that both these projects have been completed, and now we can focus on looking forward and I’m excited about that.
So, no I’m not stuck in the past and I will never be stuck in the past.”