Charles wrote to friends around the time of his 1983 tour of Australia with Diana to express their joy at seeing their firstborn son reach the important life milestone.
Beyond its sweet depiction of parental affection, the letter, buried in a 30-year-old biography, adds an additional layer of insight into a subject covered in Prince Harry‘s best-selling memoir, Spare.
The Duke of Sussex said the king gave off “an air of being not quite ready for parenthood” in the tell-all memoir, while Charles’ own correspondence suggests at least some enthusiasm for the role.
Charles described his joy in a letter to Lady Susan Hussey, Prince William’s godmother, better known more recently for grilling a black charity boss about where she was “really from” despite having already been told she was British.
“I must tell you that your godson couldn’t be in better form,” Charles wrote in the note, published in 1994’s The Prince of Wales: A Biography, by Jonathan Dimbleby. “He looks horribly well and is expanding visibly and with frightening rapidity.
“Today he actually crawled for the first time. We laughed and laughed with sheer, hysterical pleasure and now we can’t stop him crawling about everywhere,” Charles said. “They pick up the idea very quickly, don’t they, when they’ve managed the first move.”
A further letter to his friends, the Van Cutsems, sent during the Australia tour read: “[William] will be walking before long and is the greatest possible fun. You may have seen some photographs of him recently when he performed like a true professional in front of the cameras and did everything that could be expected of him.
“It really is encouraging to be able to provide people with some nice jolly news for a change.”
The king’s account of William’s progress, when he was around nine months old, also lends insight into his marriage to Princess Diana, which resurfaced in significant detail in the Netflix drama The Crown.
The letters suggest there were happy times as well as trauma and betrayal with the relationship, though Diana would tell her secret biographer years later that it was after Prince Harry’s birth a year later in 1984 that the relationship “went bang.”
“Not that Pa hadn’t always been a bit checked out. He’d always given an air of being not quite ready for parenthood—the responsibilities, the patience, the time. Even he, though a proud man, would’ve admitted as much,” Harry wrote in Spare. “But single parenthood? Pa was never made for that. To be fair, he tried.”
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