I don't suppose it's any easier for you than it would be for any other father to find that your son has gone public with a detailed denunciation of your parenting skills. You must be thinking, how could he be so treacherous?

I'll tell you how: because he thinks you won't care.

Your eldest son - and for all we know the other two as well, though probably not Princess Anne, a daughter made in your own image - sees you as cold, bullying, authoritarian and rigid; unloving, undemonstrative and incapable of sensitivity or tenderness. That is how he has described you to Jonathan Dimbleby, and thus to the world. It must be only slightly less painful than finding yourself described as no good in bed - and that's next, if the advance publicity for Kitty Kelley's biography of you is to be believed.

There are good reasons why you were a rigid, undemonstrative, overbearing father. You grew up being bundled from one set of relatives to another. Your father, you might justifiably claim, was a good deal more inadequate in the role than you've been. By the time you were in your teens you were at Gordonstoun, learning to be a man via cold showers and long-distance runs.

Not much room for sensitivity there. After that it was the Navy and more discipline. What chance did you have to imbibe the New Man virtues of vulnerability, tenderness and emotional communication?

Now, just in case you're listening, I want to tell you something important: it isn't too late to change] Whether you think your son's strictures are justified, he thinks they are - and that's what matters. But there is time to change his view of you as a father, and in the process to reach a more honest and affectionate understanding between the two of you than either had thought possible.

How do I know? Because my father was not very different from you. He too was brought up in a family with problems, from whom he learnt the lesson that it's safest to keep your upper lip stiff, your back straight, and not to expose yourself to the possibility of rejection. And so I never heard him use a term of affection towards me, was never praised, never knew he was proud of me, never guessed that he loved me. Until . . .

Until the last few years of his life, when age made him vulnerable, a bit sentimental, even tearful. Five days before he died he told me, for the first time in my life, that he loved me. Had he not, I think I would be angry with him still. As it was, we were reconciled with no regrets before he died.

Prince Charles needs a father. He tried to find one in Lord Mountbatten, Laurens van der Post and other hero-figures. But you're the real thing, and it's you he really wants. You have to make the first move (not easy). You must say you're sorry (harder still). Try to explain, invite him to imagine what your childhood was like, try and make him understand. He will, and you'll never regret it.

Angela Lambert (Photograph omitted)