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When Queen Elizabeth died on September 8, 2022 at age 96, all four of her children, including heir Prince Charles, daughter Princess Anne, scandal-ridden Prince Andrew, and youngest son Prince Edward were at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with the British monarch, Reuters reported via ITV.
The Queen’s children then followed their mother’s coffin as it made its way to St. Giles’ Cathedral on Sept. 12, and they came together again to follow the coffin on its journey to Westminster Abbey for her funeral on Sept. 19, according to CNN.
Elizabeth’s coffin was draped in the Royal Standard and decorated with flowers, but it also included a handwritten note from Charles. “In loving and devoted memory, Charles R," the note reads, per CNN.
The Queen's relationship with her children was scrutinized closely throughout the entirety of her 70-year-reign. (She was the longest-reigning monarch in British history, according to the BBC.)
From the strained mother-son dynamics between the Queen and Prince Charles, which played out front and center on season four of The Crown, to the way the monarch dealt with accusations of sexual assault against Prince Andrew, there was never any shortage of drama among the Queen's four children with husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who died in April of 2021 at 99.
Here's everything you need to know about Queen Elizabeth's children (she also had eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, FYI) and her relationship with them IRL:
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).
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.
Charles served in the Royal Air Force, where he trained as a jet pilot, according to his official bio. He also served in Royal Navy, just like his father, grandfather, and both of his great-grandfathers.
Charles had a slew of girlfriends, including his now-wife, Camilla Parker Bowles and Davina Sheffield, a woman who was reportedly his "soulmate" but was deemed unsuitable for a future with the prince because she wasn’t a virgin, per Marie Claire UK.
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 felt pressured by his family into marrying Diana, even though he was in love with Camilla at the time, according to Kitty Kelley’s book, The Royals.
Charles remarried in 2005 to Camilla, who is now Duchess of Cornwall.
Charles has done a lot of philanthropy work over the years, with a special focus on environmentalism and climate change. Even his mother’s coffin is sustainable, made with English moss and oak branches, which reflects Charles’s eco-friendly efforts, per People.
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 17th 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. Keep an eye out for her competing on horseback in season four.
Princess Anne was also the target of a kidnapping plot in 1974, per Smithsonian Magazine. Attempted kidnapper Ian Ball swerved in front of Anne’s car, firing gunshots while attempting to get her out of her car.
Anne doesn’t shy away from her duties as Princess Royal. She "has one of the busiest working schedules of any member of the royal family," her official bio says. Odds are pretty high that wins her some props from her mom.
But, while Anne is busy, she’s made it clear she doesn’t love the custom of royal walkabouts, and she’s been pretty blunt about that. "I mean it gets easier but, can you imagine? I mean, how many people enjoy walking into a room full of people that you've never met before?" she said during BBC's 2018 program The Queen: Her Commonwealth Story. "And then try a street. I don't think many youngsters would actually volunteer to do that."
There’s reason to believe Queen Elizabeth didn’t always 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.
In 2019, Princess Anne made headlines for apparently refusing to greet President 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 in December 2019. Some U.S. politicians viewed the incident as a 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 ninth in line to the crown. 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 happened more recently. According to the BBC, in 1999, Andrew started hanging around with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died by suicide in prison in 2019.
In January 2022, Prince Andrew settled a lawsuit brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who accused Prince Andrew of raping her when she was introduced to him via Epstein at age 17, per The New York Times. The settlement amount remains confidential, but rumors persist that the Queen helped with her son's legal costs, per Bloomberg.
It’s important to note that, in November 2019, Prince Andrew "stepped back from his public duties for the foreseeable future," according to his official bio.
After his mother’s death, Andrew is inheriting the Queen’s beloved corgis, and will bring them to live at The Royal Lodge in Windsor, per People.
Queen Elizabeth’s third son: Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Prince Edward is the youngest of Queen Elizabeth’s children, making him 13th 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 that definitely seemed to hold true for Edward.
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.)
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.
After serving in the Royal Marines, Edward switched his career path from military to music. Edward worked for famous composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's theater company before beginning his own film production company, Ardent Productions, which shuttered in 2009, per People.
Although Edward is far down on the list of succession for the British throne, he actually had a shot of becoming the king of Estonia back in 1994 (the country became independent after the fall of the Soviet Union), per The Orlando Sentinel. He declined the offer.
With the news of the Queen's passing, the dynamics of the royal family are sure to continue to change after Charles starts his reign as King. Stay tuned for more funeral and family updates.
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