A Guide to Queen Elizabeth II’s Four Children: Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward



There’s a major age gap between the oldest and youngest.

Queen Elizabeth II is no longer the star of The Crown. Or rather—she’s not the only star. In season 4 of The Crown, her eldest son, Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor), shares the spotlight as he marries Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin), who would become a beloved global icon.


Though Charles is a focal point of the series, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s other three children make appearances, too. Princess Anne (Erin Doherty) furthers her equestrian career, and struggles in her marriage to Mark Philips. Prince Andrew, who stepped back from his royal duties in 2019 following a scandal, marries Sarah Ferguson. Prince Edward (Angus Imrie) is bullied at boarding school. Seeing her children’s issues, Elizabeth concludes they are all “lost…each in their own deserts.”

In one episode, Philip and Elizabeth discuss their favorite child candidly. Philip admits his is Anne. Elizabeth, eventually, concedes that she has a particular affection for Andrew, now 60. According to the BBC’s History Extra, royal experts have long believed that Andrew was, indeed, Elizabeth’s favorite. Articles about Andrew’s association with Jeffrey Epstein often mention his favorite status. However, Elizabeth has never addressed these rumors.

As for why Andrew and Elizabeth had a particular bond? Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams said it dates back to Andrew’s childhood. “When Prince Charles and Princess Anne were born, the queen wasn’t able to spend the time with them that she would have wished,” royal expert Fitzwilliams told CNN. “However, in 1960, when Andrew was born, the queen had been on the throne for eight years and didn’t have to leave the toddler to tour the Commonwealth for months. She was able to give him more attention and Andrew was someone with whom she’s had a particular affinity.”

How much do you know about all four of Her Majesty’s kids, aside from what’s mentioned in The Crown? Here’s a brief primer on Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II’s children, Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward.

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Prince Charles

Charles, Prince of Wales, was born Charles Philip Arthur George on November 14, 1948. While his own children and three of his grandchildren were all born in the same hospital—the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital in London—Charles was born in Buckingham Palace.

Royalty - The Queen and Prince Charles - Buckingham Palace

According to biographer Sally Bedell Smith, while Elizabeth was “delighted” by her first baby, she was often absent when Charles was an infant, instead traveling to be with Prince Philip in Malta where he’d been posted for Royal Navy duty. Smith wrote, “Prince Philip scarcely knew his son for the first two years of the boy’s life, though on his return from overseas duty he did take the time to teach Charles to shoot and fish, and to swim in the Buckingham Palace pool.”

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Prince Charles was four years old at the time of his mother’s 1953 coronation, and her royal commitments, including a six month Commonwealth tour, took her and Philip around the globe while Charles and his sister stayed at home with their caretakers. Historian Robert Lacy, who has served as an advisor for The Crown, told Town & Country that the Queen “had been brought up in that style herself, after all, with her parents leaving her at home and entrusting her entire schooling to a governess and home tutors.”

Wedding Of Princess Margaret With Antony Armstrong Jones At Westminster Abbey

Charles with Queen Elizabeth and his grandmother, the Queen Mother, en route to Princess Margaret’s wedding to Lord Snowdon.

Most royal biographers paint the picture of a lonely childhood for the allegedly introverted Charles, followed by years abroad at Gordonstoun boarding school in Scotland. Charles would eventually become an avid polo player—he met his future second wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, at a polo match. Charles’s departure for the Royal Navy reportedly ended their relationship, and they went on to marry other people: Charles’s relationship with his first wife, Lady Diana Spencer was (and still is), a subject of wide public fascination.

Charles And Camilla
Camilla Parker-Bowles with Prince Charles, circa 1970.

Now 72, Prince Charles is the longest-serving heir apparent to the English throne in British history. When asked by a journalist when he first realized he was meant to be king one day, Charles said, “I think it’s something that dawns on you with the most ghastly inexorable sense. I didn’t wake up in my pram and say: ‘Yippie, I…’ But I think it just dawns on you slowly that people are interested in one, and slowly you get the idea that you have a certain duty and responsibility.”

Actor Josh O’Connor plays Prince Charles in The Crown‘s third and fourth seasons. He joked in a casting statement that he “has the ears for the part.” Ultimately, O’Connor is well aware that he’s playing a version of Charles based on public perception of his life. “I think the first thing I learned is that it’s totally impossible to replicate the real man,” he told ES Magazine. “I don’t know who he is, none of us do.”

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Prince Charles in news footage of his 1969 investiture, and Josh O’Connor on The Crown.

Princess Anne, Elizabeth’s only daughter

Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise was born on August 15, 1950, at London royal residence Clarence House where Elizabeth and Philip lived until 1953. The 70-year-old royal currently holds the title of Anne, Princess Royal, and at the time of her birth she was second in line for the throne after Charles. Since then, subsequent royal births have moved Anne to fourteenth in the line of succession.

Queen and her Children
Princess Anne and Prince Charles with Queen Elizabeth.

Anne was a tot when her mother and father began leaving her and Charles at home for royal obligations, often for extended amounts of time. But she’s publicly dismissed any narrative that paints Queen Elizabeth as emotionally distant.

“We as children may have not been too demanding in the sense that we understand what the limitations were in time and the responsibilities placed on her as monarch in the things she had to do and the travels she had to make,” Anne told the BBC in 2002. “But I don’t believe any of us for a second thought she didn’t care for us in exactly the same way as any other mother did.”

Like every British royal, Princess Anne’s public image is largely formed by how the U.K. media infers her every move. In Anne’s case, certain members of the press gave her the (very harsh) nickname Her Royal Rudeness, though accounts of her supposedly rude behavior suggest a possibly sexist discomfort with her forthright manner.

She explained her longtime dislike for the custom of royal walkabouts in BBC’s 2018 program The Queen: Her Commonwealth Story“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. “And then try a street. I don’t think many youngsters would actually volunteer to do that.”

Anne Dressage Serious
Princess Anne, a passionate equestrian, in 1973.

Anne’s reputation as a gutsy, no-nonsense lady was bolstered by her reaction to a failed kidnapping attempt against the princess in 1974. At his demand for a hefty ransom, she reportedly responded, “Not bloody likely.” In 2019, she achieved further viral fame when she appeared to snub President Trump during a NATO leaders reception at Buckingham Palace, though a source in a 2020 Vanity Fair profile says she was “unhappy to be dragged into that particular story because she has always been careful not to be seen to be political in any way.”

Princess Anne is an acclaimed equestrian, and was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1971, per Vanity Fair. “I thought if I was going to do anything outside of the royal family, horses was likely to be the best way of doing it,” Anne said in the interview.

Royal Ascot 2019 - Day Three: Ladies Day

Princess Anne and Queen Elizabeth in 2019.

Princess Anne, like her brother Charles, has been married twice. She married Captain Mark Phillips in 1973, with whom she shares children Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall. Anne and Philips separated in 1989, per the New York TimesShortly after their 1992 divorce, she remarried Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence, her current husband.

Anne chose not to give her two children HRH titles. Explaining the decision to Vanity Fair, Anne said, “I think it was probably easier for them, and I think most people would argue that there are downsides to having titles. I think that was probably the right thing to do.” Following in the family tradition, Anne did send her children to the Gordonstoun school in Scotland, where Prince Philip and Prince Charles attended.

Actress Erin Doherty, who plays Princess Anne as a young woman in The Crown season 3, says she knew very little about her previously. “I had to research her and then I realized, wow, this woman is awesome,” Doherty told the Telegraph. “I fell in love with her.”

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Princess Anne in 1969, and Doherty in The Crown.

Prince Andrew

Elizabeth didn’t have another child for an entire decade after welcoming Princess Anne (being the Queen of England is a pretty time-consuming gig). Her Majesty gave birth to Andrew Albert Christian Edward—or as we know him, Prince Andrew, Duke of York—at Buckingham Palace on February 19, 1960.

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While custom and circumstance kept the Queen away from her first two kids in their early years, the queen took upwards of 18 months to “produce and enjoy” Andrew and Edward, biographer Lacy claimed to Town & Country. Home-schooled until age 8, after prep school he went on to Gordonstoun, the same Scotland boarding school his father and older brother both attended.

Prince Andrew married Sarah “Fergie” Ferguson in 1986, and two daughters: Beatrice and Eugenie. The couple divorced in 1996.

Prince Andrew, Duke of York with Sarah Ferguson after their engagement announcement, Buckingham Palace, London, 17th March 1986.

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew in 1986.

Prince Andrew has more recently been at the center of another tabloid scandal: He’s accused of taking part in the sex trafficking ring of late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died in prison in 2019—allegations both the prince and the Palace denied. The Prince’s denials, which he attempted to elaborate upon in a high-profile interview on BBC’s Newsnight, were followed by a November 20, 2019 announcement that the Duke of York will “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future.”

Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest child

The birth of Prince Edward Antony Richard Louis featured a major break from tradition: He was the first of Elizabeth’s children to be born with Prince Philip in the delivery room. As the Independent notes, royal biographer Ingrid Seward wrote that the Duke of Edinburgh was “holding his wife’s hand” as their youngest was born on March 10, 1964.

“The Queen, by then aged 37, had asked him to be there,” Seward wrote in her book My Husband and I: The Inside Story Of 70 Years Of Royal Marriage. “She’d been keenly reading women’s magazines that stressed the importance of involving fathers in childbirth and had become fascinated by the idea.”

Royalty - Queen Elizabeth II and Family - London

In 1968, when Edward was four, the royal family allowed a production crew into their home in an attempt to give viewers a look at how (supposedly) normal they actually were. The documentary—and the public’s mixed reaction to it—appear in season 3 of The Crown. “They don’t want you to be ‘normal,'” Prime Minister Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins) tells Queen Elizabeth II.

Edward has stayed out of the spotlight (and tabloid headlines) more than his brothers have. He married Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999 and the couple have two children, Lady Louise Windsor and James Viscount Severn.

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Of all four siblings, Edward has been the most interested in the arts. “I love the razzmatazz of show business,” Edward said in 1987, per The Guardian. “It’s a wonderful world of fantasy and make-believe.”

At 23, Edward worked as a production assistant for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatre Company. Some of his own ventures in the entertainment industry were not as successful. In what The Guardian called a public-relations disaster,” Edward roped his family members in to participating in a one-off charity event based on a British gameshow called It’s a Knockout.

Edward’s production company, Ardent, which created TV drama and documentaries, was dissolved in 2011. He’s currently a full-time royal. As Prince Philip retired from public service in 2019, Prince Edward is reportedly taking over many of his responsibilities.

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