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Prince Harry recalls King Charles' 'fears' over post-breakup home

The Duke of Sussex stayed at St James's Palace following his parents' split

Prince Harry under an umbrella at Eton College with King Charles
Nichola Murphy
Nichola MurphyDeputy Lifestyle Editor
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Clarence House has been King Charles' primary residence with his wife Queen Camilla since 2003, but the monarch previously lived in several other London homes before settling on the four-storey property.

When he was married to Princess Diana, Charles, his first wife, and their young sons Prince William and Prince Harry resided in apartments 8 and 9 at Kensington Palace. The late Princess of Wales chose to stay there following their split in 1992 and their divorce in 1996, while Charles temporarily moved into St James's Palace, located very close to Clarence House.

Prince Charles With Prince Harry At Polvier, By The River Dee, Balmoral Castle Estate© Tim Graham
Prince Charles spent time at St James's Palace with his two sons following his split from Princess Diana in 1992

Very little is known about Charles' time there, but Harry shared a rare insight into their living situation in his book Spare, admitting that the now-king "feared" what his sons would do in the "big palace."

During a half term break from school after his mother had died in a car crash in France in 1997, Harry was due to spend time there, but Charles changed their plans and took him on a trip to Africa.

Prince William And Prince Harry With Prince Charles Holding A Funeral Programme  At Westminster Abbey For The Funeral Of Diana, Princess Of Wales© Tim Graham
The King was reportedly worried about maintaining Harry's privacy at their former London home

He recalled: "Pa, apparently, didn’t want me to spend the break wandering aimlessly around St. James’s Palace, where he’d been mostly living since his breakup with Mummy, and where Willy and I had lived whenever it was our allotted time with Pa. 

"He feared what I might get up to in that big palace all by myself. He feared I might glimpse a newspaper, overhear a radio. More, he feared I might be photographed through an open window, or while playing with my toy soldiers in the gardens." 

The Duke of Sussex – who now lives in Montecito with his wife Meghan Markle and kids Archie and Lilibet – explained that his fears were driven by the desire to protect Harry's privacy as he grieved for Diana, especially since he wouldn't have the support of his brother William who was studying at Eton.

"He could imagine reporters trying to speak to me, shouting questions. 'Hi, Harry, do you miss your mum?' The nation was in a state of hysterical grief, but the press’s hysteria had veered into psychosis. Worst of all, Willy wouldn’t be at home to watch over me. He was at Eton."

Built by Henry VIII on the site of the Hospital of St. James, the royal residence is steeped in history. The Chapel Royal has not acted as the location for many christenings – from King Charles II in 1630 all the way to Prince Louis in 2018 – it has also played host to several royal weddings including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's in 1840, and it was the location where King Charles III was proclaimed as monarch following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

prince louis christened
Prince George and Prince Louis were christened at the Chapel Royal

The King was not the only member of the royal family to live there. His sister Princess Anne has a London residence inside the palace walls when she's not staying at Gatcombe Park, while Princess Beatrice was also thought to be staying there with her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and their daughter Sienna before they left the hustle and bustle of London behind to live in the quiet countryside of the Cotswolds.

The Westminster location of Beatrice and Edoardo's former home made it convenient for Edoardo to spend time with his son Wolfie, who lives with his mother Dara Huang in Kensington. 

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