It allows her to see this story for what it is: the kind of family anxiety she hears from her readers every day. When you strip away the headlines, the fame, and the superlative fortune, the gist of all this drama is pretty mundane. Tension between in-laws. Long-standing sibling power dynamics. The unbearable burden of family expectations. Who can’t relate?
The Post Reports podcast asked Caroline, and host Martin Powers asked some questions (written by producers Jordan Marie Smith and Sabbie Robinson) that were based on some painfully real situations, which King watchers will surely recognize. And for each, Caroline offered advice that everyone – not just Harry, Meghan, Charles and William – might find helpful.
Here are the best parts of the conversation, edited for length and clarity:
Martin’s forces: Caroline, here’s the first question: “My brother recently released a memoir in which he talks extensively about our very personal family matters. On top of that, he and his wife released a Netflix documentary about our lives and our family. I feel like there was really a lot of toxic communication going on between us. What should I do? Should I speak out, or should I try to talk to him to see if we can finally stop this awful cycle of public shame?”
Caroline Hicks: The first thing that comes to mind is to go to the person. Because if the relationship hadn’t been broken, none of this would have happened. And I think the way to fix anything like that is to have your part in the break. Why break this? What have you personally done to contribute to this problem?
the authorities: It sounds like you’re saying you have to call this person and say, “Look, I did this thing wrong. I’m going to admit to you that some of these things were hurtful or that I shouldn’t have done them.”
the authorities: This is a difficult conversation.
hex: Of course. What I see a lot in these relationships that break to this degree and for so long and that’s bad is that there are usually some difficult conversations that don’t happen when they should have.And Because people were avoiding it or were holding back on spending and defending themselves. And instead of just saying, “Well, you’re right, I’m mad at you. You did a bunch of wrong things yourself, but I won’t until I own up to the bad things you did,” people don’t want to do that.
It gets even more difficult when someone responds to your mistake with an even bigger mistake. And I think a lot of people tend to say, “It works now. What I did was so much worse that it cleared me of what I did.” This is not true. You’re still responsible for your part of it, even if it’s a much smaller one.
The relationship may be far from salvaging. It’s still better for you to recognize, admit and apologize for what you did wrong, even just for your sake, just because it’s the right thing.
the authorities: It sounds like you’re saying that then, as an injured person, go out and post a diary with all your meat with this person you know has abused you, and that’s also wrong. Perhaps posting a diary isn’t something everyone does, but I think there are a lot of people who, when they’re angry, post something on Facebook about how they feel wronged by a loved one.
hex: If you have an objection to something someone does, you take it up with that person. If you’re just talking about normal people who have something going on in their family, I think blowing it up to the world is vanity. why? Why did you need to tell everyone about this? There must be a reason to bring something public.
If there is an alleged infraction, [such as accusations of racism], that affect other people or endanger an organization, I think it’s important to speak out. I don’t think others would say: If you feel you’ve been harmed by racist behavior, you have commitment to talk about. I think the aggrieved party is the one making this account. But I think if someone chooses to do that, it’s totally defensible. It is important.
the authorities: We have another question: “My husband and I have two children, and we really want them to have a close relationship with their cousins. But in recent years, my husband and his brother had a huge falling out, so our families don’t really see each other anymore. It also doesn’t help that they live together.” In another country. How can I explain to my children why they cannot see their cousins, and what do I do to make sure that they can have some kind of relationship with them in the future?”
hex: I’ve gotten my copy of this question a lot, and I’ve found it to be one of the most difficult questions to answer, and here’s why. If you’re cutting a relative, look the way and realize that your kid might cut you when you’re doing something wrong if you don’t give him some kind of subtle understanding of when it’s important to work on things and when it’s important to protect yourself and cut the tie.
Trying to explain this to the child in childish terms, he is almost asking too much. So I think you end up with: “This is an unfortunate situation and we can’t see it right now. And I know we love your cousins, and I know they love you,” and you treat it like an unfortunate victim of circumstance. If you do not burden them with your own prejudices, then they can look out for each other when they are out.
the authorities: The thing that a lot of people struggle with is: do I have to tell my kid why I think his aunt did some really bad things that I don’t agree with and that’s why we don’t talk? Should they keep it a top secret and then just leave it as a mystery to that kid’s entire childhood?
hex: I don’t think that secret and mystery prepares your children to deal with things, because the moment you deny people’s information, they seek it. And they’re going, anyway. There is a point of inevitability in all of this. But I think if you stick with the truth and then what you did with the truth, then on the whole, I think you’re doing fine. So the truth is, the two brothers don’t get along, the two families don’t get along, and it’s really unfortunate, and I wish it were otherwise, but we won’t see them the way we used to. This is a basic fact. Do not throw anyone under any buses.
the authorities: Well, now we have one last question: “So, more than two decades ago, I became a widower. When I wanted to remarry the new love of my life — or perhaps the long love of my life — my children told me not to. I did anyway. But I recently learned how upset one of my sons was with my decision to take this marriage forward. I love my wife. She’s been a rock by my side, and it pains me that my son doesn’t see how important she is to me and our family. What do I do now?”
hex: Get used to it. You can’t pressure people to change their minds about how they feel, and the more you do, the more entrenched they will become. The father in this case must admit that he read it wrong and that it cost him their relationship. And it goes back to the original answer we were talking about, where you only own your part in it for yourself and your conscience. Say, “You know what? I read that wrong, and I’m really sorry.”
You could go on for days on end saying, “What was my life like to live. I have to make up my own mind. I’m not going to decide who my life partner is going to be based on my traumatized child.” You can say all of these things, and they will all be true, but there is also an emotional truth, and the emotional truth is that this is going to be a sore point in this kid.
the authorities: Do you hear people going through situations like this?
hex: I can’t think of something directly similar, but certainly the general idea of someone making a very heavy and complex condition. And here’s the thing: if the sons were writing to me saying they wanted to make this condition clear, I would tell them no, don’t do it. Do not prepare yourselves for this kind of disappointment. Don’t depend on your emotional health for your father’s choices. Your emotional health is up to you, and the moment you place it in someone else’s hands like that, you’re asking for a lifetime of complications.