Charles and Camila's friends 'aghast' the King hasn't put arms around Harry and William

Friends of the King and Queen Consort are “aghast” Charles hasn’t put a comforting arm around the shoulders of Princes Harry and William, according to a royal biographer.

Speaking at a "Future of the Monarchy" roundtable discussion hosted by Yahoo News UK's royal executive editor Omid Scobie, Catherine Mayer suggested the King has always lacked the ability to empathise with his sons - and that this has been a case of history repeating itself after the King’s own parents, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, were often absent during his own childhood.

Joining Omid and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party Mayer were King Charles’ biographer and royal editor at The Evening Standard Robert Jobson; and journalist and broadcaster Afua Hagan.

Watch the full clip above.

Video transcript

OMID SCOBIE: We've heard so much about Harry and Meghan's experiences from their own mouths through the Netflix docuseries, through Harry's book. Alongside that, Harry has repeatedly said that he wants accountability. He wants apologies. He wants conversations with his family. And time and time again, he hasn't had that. Robert, Charles's sort of inability to convene and command his own family is one thing. But how do you think that reflects on his leadership skills? Because this is something that I would say he probably could have nipped in the bud much earlier.

ROBERT JOBSON: Well, I think it's all a question of trust. And trust takes time to build. Harry has shown no reason why they should trust him and then speak to him without him blurting to all his pals. And he's done it time and time again. So until they can actually come up with a trustworthy situation, I think it's going be difficult. I think The King obviously loves both his sons the same and want to try to build bridges.

He's not somebody who likes confrontation, never has been. But unfortunately, both his sons are quite volatile and quite confrontational. I think really, it's time, at this point in time, that maybe two 40-year-old men, rather than being regarded as boys, grew up, became men, that both be people that are-- you can't say men anymore, but grew up a bit-- an adult and a father. And now, they're fathers themselves. Be more adult and support their father. And show respect to their father at this time.

And that doesn't mean blurting out every five minutes and complaining, but actually acting as royal Dukes used to in the past, which is as a liegeman to the monarch. And I think that's what they've got to do at this moment in time. And if they can't do that, then I do fear for the monarchy in the long term. I think both Afua and Catherine, they're very right in what they're saying.

We may not be on the ledge. We may not be on the edge of the precipice. But they're damned close to it. And I think if Harry, and particularly William now, has got to take the lead and maybe extend his hand and say, OK, let's just agree to disagree. Otherwise, this story will become a Kardashian showbiz story that runs and runs and runs and dominates the royal story for many years to come.

OMID SCOBIE: But Catherine, shouldn't the lead be taken by the monarch? And let's be devil's advocate for a second and say Harry can't be trusted. And he will blurt everything out. Is there anything wrong in him and Charles making amends and that being shared or leaked or whatever it is? If Charles took that step to sit down with his son and have that conversation to give him the accountability that is clearly needed to be taken, then I think that would be a huge change in how people see the story around the Royal Family.

CATHERINE MAYER: Again, there's also the optics of it, quite apart from what you think would be sensible. I was with some people recently who are actual friends of Charles and Camilla. And they were aghast. And they were going like, we understand that this is a difficult situation. But surely, as a father, you would just put your arms out. And that's the way-- if even people close to them see it that way, that's, again, the way that the wider world is seeing it.