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Maybe Charles and Princess Diana Weren't Such Bad Parents

prince william, prince charles, princess diana, prince harry

Prince William and the fam at Eton in 1995

A post from Strollerderby editor Margaret Wheeler Johnson:

Oh, how I remember the picture of Prince William. Not this one, another one apparently lost to posterity but burnished indelibly in my mind. Could he have been wearing a riding habit? (He does have a thing for horses.)

I was four or five, and a well-intentioned relative held up a magazine cover picturing a four- or five-year-old little boy and informed me, “This is the boy you’re going to marry.”

We were in Galveston, Texas. While I appreciate that cousin or aunt’s faith in my ability to rise above my station, her future wasn’t in fortunetelling.

I can’t have been alone in this experience. How many other girls of a certain age were told the exact same thing at some point in our childhoods — and Prince William’s? Raise your hands, Ladies. So the announcement of my betrothed’s engagement to another woman wasn’t a shock. But it did make me wonder if A) Kate Middleton’s parents said the same thing to her, and B) how many times the sentence “This is the _____ you’re going to _____” must have been spoken to William as he grew up, with relative certainty. “This is the school you’re going to go to.” “This is the home you’re going to live in.” “This is what you’re going to wear to your coronation, just like every king before you has.” Maybe even, “This is the girl you’re going to marry.”

Or was it? Charles went to Cambridge, but William opted for St. Andrews. Instead of moving on after his requisite stint in the Royal Navy, William joined the Royal Air Force. He’s marrying (gasp) a commoner, possibly, it’s been hinted, for financial reasons (double gasp). All of which suggests that either Charles and Princess Diana resisted the impulse to control every aspect of William’s life, or that he refused to let them. As Robin noted, there are ways in which Charles and Diana weren’t admirable parents — their dysfunctional marriage and messy divorce, for starters. But have we given them enough credit for what they did right? What better proof of successful parenting is there than two sons — Prince Harry‘s doing pretty well for himself, too —  who balance a demonstrated commitment to their country with the strong sense of self William has shown  throughout his life? Maybe the Windsors are one of the most visible examples we have of very imperfect parents actually doing the job pretty well.

Photo: © Insight News and Features, Inc.

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