Prince Harry’s ‘Genetic Pain’ Comments Are Not Actually A Dig At Prince Charles

Acknowledging the generational pain you’ve experienced doesn’t mean you blame your parents for not preventing it, writes Georgia Aspinall.

Prince Harry and Prince Charles

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

Yesterday, Dax Sheppard released his latest episode of podcast Armchair Expert featuring an interview with Prince Harry where the Duke of Sussex elaborated on his decision to step down as a senior royal and move his family to the US.

In the episode, Harry compared his life in the royal family to a ‘mixture between The Truman Show and being in a zoo’ and said that while he doesn’t want anyone to ‘point the finger’ or be blamed, he knew he didn’t want to raise his own children in that environment.

‘When it comes to parenting, if I've experienced some form of pain or suffering because of the pain or suffering that perhaps my father or my parents had suffered, I'm going to make sure I break that cycle so that I don't pass it on, basically,’ Harry explained. ‘It's a lot of genetic pain and suffering that gets passed on anyway so we as parents should be doing the most we can to try and say, “You know what, that happened to me, I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen to you”’

As you would experts, his comments have been deemed wildly controversial by the tabloids. In fact, ‘genetic pain’ is now a trending topic on Google (although, we can assume he merely meant generational pain based on the fact he is royal by virtue of his genetics) as well as ‘The Truman Show’ and ‘Prince Harry Dax Shepard interview’. In case you haven’t seen it (and this is in fact, a major spoiler guys), The Truman Show is a 1998 film where Jim Carrey plays an insurance salesman who lives a relatively unremarkable life until discovering his entire existence has been part of a reality show orchestrated by everyone he loves.

Harry went to explain that he never understood how much of the pain he’s experience was generational until he became an adult, and then he couldn’t ignore it. ‘It's hard to do but for me it comes down to awareness,’ he said. ‘I never saw it, I never knew about it, and then suddenly I started to piece it together and go “Okay, so this is where he went to school, this is what happened, I know this about his life, I also know that is connected to his parents so that means he's treated me the way he was treated, so how can I change that for my own kids?”’

‘Sometimes you've got to make decisions and put your family first and put your mental health first,’ Harry concluded. ‘So living here [in Los Angeles] now I can actually lift my head and I feel different, my shoulders have dropped, so have hers, you can walk around feeling a little bit more free, I can take Archie on the back of my bicycle, I would never have had the chance to do that.’

It was a compelling conversation, and one the tabloids and broadsheets have turned into an attack on the royal family. ‘Prince Harry says dad Charles “passed on suffering”’ one headline read. ‘Prince Harry in new swipe at his father’ another stated. ‘Prince Harry appears to criticise the way he was raised by his father,’ wrote a third.

It's very common for new parents to seek to erase the mistakes of their own.

But actually, what Harry is saying really isn’t that remarkable – nor is it actually an attack on his father. Is it not a very common trope that new parents often seek to erase the mistakes of their own parents? That we look back on our childhoods, reflect on the ways our parents personal traumas or opinions impacted our upbringing and the issues we know have, and hope that we don’t do that with our own kids?

In analysing the way his own childhood caused him pain, Harry is simply doing what any responsible parent would do in removing his own child from similar experiences. To say that it is generational pain is merely a fact of Harry’s experience, not necessarily a personal attack. If anything, his comments serve to provide empathy for Prince Charles as the Duke of Sussex once again implies his family is trapped in the monarchy - as he did during the Oprah interview.

Yes, he notes that he has experienced the same pain his father did, and he doesn’t want to pass that on, but not once does he imply any blame on his parents – in fact he explicitly states that he doesn’t want to point the finger in any direction. It’s like any epiphany we have about our childhoods, we note the ways our parents couldn’t save us from certain traumas or pain, and we resolve to break the cycle – but we don’t necessarily blame our parents for not being able to protect us from the same pain they experienced.

We understand that there are certain circumstances parents can’t control, that there are emotional barriers to cross that some people aren’t ready for – and when it comes to leaving the royal family, judging by the criticism Harry and Meghan have received for doing so he surely sees that’s a big one – and if anything, we feel empathy for our parents for not having the strength to break the cycle we now resolve to do.

Harry’s circumstances are exceptional, of course, but generational pain isn’t an exceptional experience. There may well be the opportunity to lay blame, and feeling angry or frustrated at your parents for not removing you from traumas they experienced is a battle many face in reflecting on it, but that is entirely not what Harry is doing. If anything, he seems to have come through the other side of that battle and found peace with what he believes his family can't escape – again, something he implied during the Oprah interview.

So, rather than making this yet another frenzy about Harry supposedly digging at Charles, why not discuss the very real issues that come with generational pain and how we can all combat it. It might seem like a controversial comment, but it’s actually the most relatable conversation Harry has started in a while.

Read More:

No, Prince Harry Leaving England Before The Queen's Birthday Is Not A Snub

Why Did Prince Harry Sit Alone At Prince Philip's Funeral?

26 Times Prince Harry Was Our Favourite Royal

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us