Prince Philip dies: Duke of Edinburgh’s bond with Harry, William and his other grandchildren

Described by Prince William as a ‘legend’ and Princess Eugenie as ‘incredible’, the Duke of Edinburgh was a much-loved grandfather to his ten grandchildren.

Looked up to as the patriarch of his family, Prince Philip – who has died aged 99 – became a mentor for younger royals who continued to turn to him over the years.

Among the Duke’s key involvements in Prince William’s life was when he convinced him to walk in the funeral cortege at his mother Princess Diana‘s funeral in 1997.

And it is no doubt a source of huge sadness to new mother Princess Eugenie that he is not thought to have been able to meet her newborn son August – his great-grandson – after describing her grandfather as the family’s rock.

The same will be true of Zara and Mike Tindall who on March 21 welcomed their baby son Lucas Philip Tindall – with Philip in honour of both Mr Tindall’s father as well as Zara’s grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh. 

He retired from public life in 2017 and has rarely been seen at major events since, but has made exceptions for his beloved granddaughters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice.

Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi leave The Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor, after their wedding in July 2020, with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh also pictured - in a rare outing for Philip

Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi leave The Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor, after their wedding in July 2020, with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh also pictured - in a rare outing for Philip

Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi leave The Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, Windsor, after their wedding in July 2020, with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh also pictured – in a rare outing for Philip

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank in the White Drawing Room of Windsor Castle in October 2018 with (left to right) Back row: Thomas Brooksbank; Nicola Brooksbank; George Brooksbank; Princess Beatrice; Sarah, Duchess of York; Prince Andrew. Middle row: Prince George; Princess Charlotte; Queen Elizabeth II; Prince Philip; Maud Windsor; Louis de Givenchy; Front row: Theodora Williams; Mia Grace Tindall; Isla Phillips; and Savannah Phillips

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank in the White Drawing Room of Windsor Castle in October 2018 with (left to right) Back row: Thomas Brooksbank; Nicola Brooksbank; George Brooksbank; Princess Beatrice; Sarah, Duchess of York; Prince Andrew. Middle row: Prince George; Princess Charlotte; Queen Elizabeth II; Prince Philip; Maud Windsor; Louis de Givenchy; Front row: Theodora Williams; Mia Grace Tindall; Isla Phillips; and Savannah Phillips

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank in the White Drawing Room of Windsor Castle in October 2018 with (left to right) Back row: Thomas Brooksbank; Nicola Brooksbank; George Brooksbank; Princess Beatrice; Sarah, Duchess of York; Prince Andrew. Middle row: Prince George; Princess Charlotte; Queen Elizabeth II; Prince Philip; Maud Windsor; Louis de Givenchy; Front row: Theodora Williams; Mia Grace Tindall; Isla Phillips; and Savannah Phillips

Prince Philip walks next to his grandson Prince William, as well as Earl Spencer, Harry and Charles behind Princess Diana's coffin at her funeral procession in London in September 1997

Prince Philip walks next to his grandson Prince William, as well as Earl Spencer, Harry and Charles behind Princess Diana's coffin at her funeral procession in London in September 1997

Prince Philip walks next to his grandson Prince William, as well as Earl Spencer, Harry and Charles behind Princess Diana’s coffin at her funeral procession in London in September 1997

When Beatrice wed Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi at a secret ceremony at Windsor Castle in July 2020, nobody would have raised an eyebrow if the Duke had stayed away from the pared-back nuptials given the Covid-19 pandemic.

Therefore it was a crucial show of support for Prince Andrew’s daughter that the only family photo released of the day showed the bride and groom with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. 

It was particularly significant due to scandal surrounding their father Prince Andrew and his friendship with paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein. 

When Princess Eugenie tied the knot at St George’s Chapel in October 2018, there were rumours that her grandfather wouldn’t attend due to bad blood with her mother Sarah Ferguson, but he made a point of being there. 

It is no doubt a source of huge sadness to new mother Princess Eugenie that Philip didn't get to meet her newborn son, after describing her grandfather as the family's rock. Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank are pictured earlier this month with August Philip Hawke Brooksbank

It is no doubt a source of huge sadness to new mother Princess Eugenie that Philip didn't get to meet her newborn son, after describing her grandfather as the family's rock. Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank are pictured earlier this month with August Philip Hawke Brooksbank

It is no doubt a source of huge sadness to new mother Princess Eugenie that Philip didn’t get to meet her newborn son, after describing her grandfather as the family’s rock. Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank are pictured earlier this month with August Philip Hawke Brooksbank

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's baby August Philip Hawke Brooksbank

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's baby August Philip Hawke Brooksbank

Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank’s baby August Philip Hawke Brooksbank

Speaking in the 2016 ITV documentary Our Queen at Ninety, Princess Eugenie said of Philip: ‘I think Grandpa is incredible. He really is strong and consistent. He’s been there for all these years, and I think he’s the rock, you know, for all of us.’

Also that year, William was asked by actor Matt Smith for any advice on playing Philip in Netflix drama The Crown, and William replied: ‘Just one word – legend!’

Perhaps Philip’s most important involvement in the lives of his grandchildren came in 1997 with Harry and William following Diana’s death in Paris aged 36.

The brothers and their father Prince Charles had been staying with Philip and the Queen at their Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire at the time of the fatal car crash.

Philip helped William, then 15, and Harry, then 12, through their early grief and protected them as they stayed out of the public eye while the world mourned Diana.

Prince William, Kate, Prince Philip, Meghan and Harry at Sandringham on Christmas Day 2017

Prince William, Kate, Prince Philip, Meghan and Harry at Sandringham on Christmas Day 2017

Prince William, Kate, Prince Philip, Meghan and Harry at Sandringham on Christmas Day 2017

A member of staff at the estate in Scotland told how Philip offered the brothers ‘gruff tenderness and outdoor activities like stalking and hiking to tire them out’.

According to author Tina Brown in her 2011 book The Diana Chronicles, Philip was ‘brilliantly effective with his grandsons’ at possibly the toughest time of their lives. 

It was also claimed that William was reluctant to walk in the funeral cortege through London alongside his father Prince Charles and uncle Charles Spencer.

But Philip is said to have believed William would later regret not joining in with the solemn procession, and asked him: ‘If I walk, will you walk with me?’

Philip is known to enjoy spending time with his grandchildren at royal gatherings such as Christmas at Sandringham, Easter in Windsor and summer at Balmoral. 

Philip is also said to have guided William through his first few months at St Andrew’s University – where he initially felt homesick and even considered leaving. 

Prince Philip laughs with the Duchess of Cambridge as they look out from the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the Queen, Charlotte, George and Prince William on June 17, 2017

Prince Philip laughs with the Duchess of Cambridge as they look out from the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the Queen, Charlotte, George and Prince William on June 17, 2017

Prince Philip laughs with the Duchess of Cambridge as they look out from the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the Queen, Charlotte, George and Prince William on June 17, 2017

The Queen and Prince Philip, accompanied by Princesses Eugenie (second right) and Beatrice (far right) arrive for a church service near Balmoral in Aberdeenshire on August 30, 1998

The Queen and Prince Philip, accompanied by Princesses Eugenie (second right) and Beatrice (far right) arrive for a church service near Balmoral in Aberdeenshire on August 30, 1998

The Queen and Prince Philip, accompanied by Princesses Eugenie (second right) and Beatrice (far right) arrive for a church service near Balmoral in Aberdeenshire on August 30, 1998

(From left) Prince Harry, Prince William, Prince Philip, Peter Philips, Prince Charles and the Queen look at flowers left outside Balmoral on September 4, 1997 following Diana's death

(From left) Prince Harry, Prince William, Prince Philip, Peter Philips, Prince Charles and the Queen look at flowers left outside Balmoral on September 4, 1997 following Diana's death

(From left) Prince Harry, Prince William, Prince Philip, Peter Philips, Prince Charles and the Queen look at flowers left outside Balmoral on September 4, 1997 following Diana’s death

The Duke of Edinburgh is said to have reassured William when they talked about the situation, and he stayed at the university where he met his future wife Kate in 2011. 

He is also said to have scheduled his hip operation in April 2018 so he could attend Harry’s wedding to Meghan at Windsor Castle the following month. 

The Duke also had a strong bond with his granddaughter Lady Louise Windsor, thanks to a shared love of carriage driving.

In 2017, days after being released from hospital following treatment for an infection, he wasted no time in attending a polo and carriage driving event at Guards Polo Club to watch Lady Louise compete. 

The Duke of Edinburgh, then 96, got behind the wheel to take Her Majesty to meet their son Prince Edward and watch granddaughter Lady Louise Windsor, then 13, show off her carriage driving skills. 

Then in March 2021, the monarchy was plunged into crisis while Philip was in hospital following the shocking allegations of racism made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in their interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Harry and Meghan, who faced calls to postpone the interview because Philip was unwell, accused an unnamed royal, not the Queen nor the duke, of raising concerns about how dark their son Archie’s skin tone would be before he was born.

Meghan also told of how she begged for help when she was suicidal, but said the institution gave her no support.

The Queen, 94, said the issues were concerning, but that ‘some recollections may vary’ and the matter was a family one that would be dealt with privately. 

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