TOM BOWER: No one knows better than Charles that Prince Harry has barely scratched the surface… The King has reason to fear his son

  • Charles and Camilla hosted a private dinner party at Clarence House
  • Guests were taken aback by his reluctance to confront Harry over his disloyalty
  • Charles disclosed to his guests he preferred to shy away from a bitter battle
  • Palace ‘sources’ quoted said the King might ignore Harry’s treachery and deceit

At a recent private dinner for friends hosted by Charles and Camilla at Clarence House, the King’s guests were taken aback by his obvious reluctance to confront his son Harry over his disloyalty.

In the face of multiple smears, indiscretions and provocations, Charles betrayed one of his cardinal weaknesses: a constitutional unwillingness to confront personal problems head-on.

Rather than fight for an important principle, Charles disclosed to his guests, he preferred to shy away from a bitter battle.

And so it came as no surprise to read yesterday’s newspaper account of proposals for a mooted peace summit, with Palace ‘sources’ quoted as saying that the King might ignore Harry’s treachery and deceit over the past week and seek ‘reconciliation’ by admitting his errors.

At a recent private dinner for friends hosted by Charles and Camilla at Clarence House, the King’s guests were taken aback by his obvious reluctance to confront his son Harry over his disloyalty

In the face of multiple smears, indiscretions and provocations, Charles betrayed one of his cardinal weaknesses: a constitutional unwillingness to confront personal problems head-on

Such a suggestion must have truly shocked Britain’s monarchists, a constituency that makes up the vast majority of King Charles’ subjects.

The very idea that he might succumb to pressure from his younger son shows that Buckingham Palace’s officials fear they are losing control of the narrative.

The revelation that may well have given them most pause was Harry’s claim that he had junked half the final manuscript because of its length – the clear implication being that another 400 pages of embarrassing revelations and vitriolic accusations could be published in the near future.

No one knows better than Charles that Harry has barely scratched the surface when it comes to his tumultuous marriage to Diana, his difficult relationship with his own parents and his adulterous relationship with Camilla. The embattled King knows he has good reason to fear his son.

Charles’ resolve is also weakened by guilt. He is sufficiently self-aware to realise that, in the wake of Diana’s death, he was anything but the supportive father he should have been.

All too often, at weekends and during school holidays, Harry was left in the care of his nanny at Highgrove while his father pursued his own interests or nestled in another home with Camilla. The chickens, Harry might say, have now come home to roost.

One of the most poignant – and revealing – quotes attributed to Charles in Harry’s book is the King’s plea to his sons following Prince Philip’s funeral: ‘Please boys, don’t make my final years a misery.’

In that one sentence, Charles exposed his vulnerability. His reign, he feared, could be wrecked by Harry and Meghan.

Rather than fight for an important principle, Charles disclosed to his guests, he preferred to shy away from a bitter battle

Prince Harry’s book, Spare, was released on January 10 and quickly became one of the fastest selling non-fiction books ever

And homing in on any human weakness seems to me to be Meghan’s speciality. Just as she humiliated her own father and dumped her family and many friends, she appears vengeful against Harry’s family for perceived slights.

Hence Harry saying last week that his family should apologise.

As someone who has climbed the very greasy pole that leads to success in the dog-eat-dog world of American television, Meghan can smell weakness a mile off and Charles positively reeks of it.

Finding himself between a rock and a hard place his first instinct is to sue for peace – he would not last even one minute as a studio executive.

But Charles should be aware that he could jeopardise his status and popularity with the British people if he caves in to the demands of the Sussexes.

Not only would the majority of his subjects, outraged by Harry’s perfidy, deplore any concessions to the Montecito hucksters, but William and Kate would surely not co-operate in any humiliating apology.

For the Cambridges have borne the brunt of the Sussexes’ attacks. In all their interviews, Meghan and Harry have – perhaps unconsciously – revealed their breath-taking jealousy of the heirs to the throne.

Even before her glittering marriage, Meghan appears to have been outraged by the fact that Kate outranked her, both in the hierarchy and when it came to privileges.

Which is why the Cambridges have good reason to suspect the genuineness of Harry’s desire for reconciliation. The fact is that William can sense his father’s temptation to surrender. That’s the obstacle to Charles’s peace-making endeavours.

In the interests of the monarchy, William and Charles have been only recently reconciled. As an eyewitness to his mother’s distress over Charles’s adultery, William has always found it difficult to warm to his stepmother entirely.

Now, it’s hard to believe that he or Kate can see any advantage in bowing to Harry’s demands. Concessions, they believe, will only lead to further accusations.

The King and his advisers, William knows, are treading a dangerous path. Talk of reconciliation is a mirage. Harry and Meghan will settle for nothing less than total capitulation and victory.

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