Prince Philip passed on the baton to Charles during tearful yet crucial bedside visit

IT was an emotional and symbolic passing of the baton.

When Prince Charles made a dramatic 200-mile journey from Highgrove in Gloucestershire to see his ailing father in a London hospital in February, it was more than just a family get-together.

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Prince Charles as he leaves the King Edward VII hospital after visiting his father Prince Philip[/caption]

It was a meeting of vital importance, especially as visitors to the private King Edward VII’s hospital were permitted to see patients only under “exceptional circumstances”.

This private exchange clearly came under that heading as the future king emerged from their 30-minute conversation clearly upset and preoccupied.

It had been an emotional encounter — one where, it could be assumed, Philip outlined his final wishes to his eldest son.

The Duke, who had been the head of the family for as long as anyone could remember, was finally stepping down and bowing out.

Now it was Charles’s time to step up to the plate and finally take over control of the first family.

Doubtless his father, who had the reputation for writing thoughtful letters to family members, set down his thoughts on paper beforehand.

Max Mumby

Prince Philip passed on the baton to Charles during a tearful yet crucial bedside visit[/caption]


Philp and Charles attend Royal Ascot in June 2017[/caption]


Philip kept his papers at Wood Farm, his retirement lodgings on the Sandringham estate.

And in his final few weeks the Duke, who had a horror of throwing anything away that might be of historical importance, was ensuring that his affairs were as ship-shape and Bristol fashion as this former Navy captain could make them.

Orderly and no-nonsense — just like his character.

Though Philip is remembered with enormous affection by the family — William and Harry call him The Stud in reference to a picture of their grandfather with his hair slicked back and wearing sunglasses — his relationship with his eldest son was never easy.

Princess Diana told me it was “very tricky, very tricky”.

She recalled: “Prince Charles longs to be patted on his head by his father.”


Charles and Philip sharing a joke as they stand together laughing, hands in their pockets, at Badminton[/caption]


Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh holding their first child Prince Charles[/caption]

PA:Press Association

Prince Charle’s first day at the public school[/caption]

The older man was much more progressive and modern than his son, who was happy to be dubbed an “Old Fogey”.

So then their meeting was not for idle compliments or reminiscence but, most likely, to consolidate a transfer of power within the family.

What had effectively been the case since Prince Philip retired in 2017 was now an accepted fact.

Prince Charles is head of the family, in charge of day-to-day decisions.

This is signified by the fact that Charles has been automatically granted his father’s main title, Duke of Edinburgh, as well as his other honours.

It was the Prince of Wales who, as the newly anointed head of the family, spoke to the nation about his father and the debt owed him by the nation and his family for his “Dear Papa”.


He spoke about the “very special person” he was, how touched he’d been by the outpouring of love for him by people who “share our loss and our sorrow” and how he’d “miss him enormously”.

It was a touching farewell message from Philip’s eldest son, who now has to unravel a family tangled in a series of personal crises. Already he has proved himself more decisive than his mother whose policy with difficult family matters was usually to kick the can down the road.

Charles quickly dispatched his younger brother Andrew to the royal backwaters following his car-crash TV interview about his association with disgraced sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Charles, who was in New Zealand on an official visit, telephoned the Queen and forced her to strip her favourite son of his royal duties.

After days of bold point headlines, including reports of the rapid exodus of his charities and sponsors, Andrew issued a statement saying that the Queen had given him permission to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future. It was a brutal and swift end to his royal career, orchestrated by his older brother.

The next king and family head will have to show more diplomacy when building bridges with his youngest son, who went on primetime TV and accused his father and brother of being trapped in the institution of monarchy.


The Queen holding Prince Edward, surrounded by Prince Andrew, Princess Anne and Prince Charles, on the Queen’s 39th birthday[/caption]


People stop outside Buckingham Palace to pay their respects to the Duke of Edinburgh[/caption]

Getty Images – Getty

A photo of Prince Philip among flowers left by the public outside the gates of Windsor Castle[/caption]

It is now up to Charles, not his father, who had a close relationship with Harry, to work out how best to entice the prodigal son back into the fold — if at all.

With the Queen now a widow and greater authority conferred upon the shoulders of the Prince of Wales, there will be talk that Her Majesty, who is 95 this month, should step down.

In one of his few public pronouncements on this ticklish issue, Prince Charles has been quick to emphasise that the Queen should only ever retire in the event of physical or mental incapacity.

As he told journalist Kenneth Harris: “Queen Victoria in her 80s was more loved, more known, more revered than at any time in her reign. Much would have been lost had she stepped back before her prime.” He has a case.

In the sunset of her long reign, the Queen, thanks to social media, has seemed more accessible, witty and wise than perhaps at any time.

Her “We will meet again” broadcast in the pandemic’s first wave was arguably her finest hour.


A girl adds her flowers to the floral tributes to Prince Philip[/caption]

Getty Images – Getty

The Queen’s 90th birthday at The Mall in London in 2016[/caption]

Getty – Contributor

The Queen and Prince Philip with children Anne and Charles[/caption]

Practical and matter-of-fact, the Queen has made it known, according to her biographer Sally Bedell Smith, that she will indeed step aside should she become mentally or physically incapacitated.

Such a move would invoke the Regency Act, triggering the appointment of Charles as regent. Barring accidents, however, she remains chief executive of The Firm.

These days, Charles is very much her shadow and no longer in her shadow.

Over the last few years, she has delegated much of the heavy lifting to her eldest son and his heir, Prince William.

She no longer undertakes long-distance flights, leaving that task to Charles and William.

At her request, Charles has been unanimously invited to become head of the Commonwealth when she dies. She has also relinquished numerous patronages and passed them on to the younger generation.


Now it was Charles’s time to step up to the plate and finally take over control[/caption]


Charles, Philip and William during the Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant[/caption]


Prince Philip in 1958[/caption]

While “Reader One”, as she is known, still reviews the confidential contents of the fabled red boxes, Charles has his own set delivered in racing-green leather.

With the death of Philip and, as the nation tiptoes towards thoughts of a new reign, a decision by the Queen made in 2016 assumes greater significance.

That year she appointed Camilla to be a member of the Privy Council, the Queen’s most senior advisory body.

Members are part of a larger group that convenes within 24 hours of the Queen’s death to hear the religious oath and proclamation of the new king — presumably Charles III.

It was a thoughtful gesture on the Queen’s part to give the Duchess of Cornwall a ringside seat in this historic ceremony that serves as the starting gun for the new reign.


The Queen and Prince Charles, pose for a portrait in the garden of Frogmore House in Windsor[/caption]


Philip chats with his grandsons Prince William and Prince Harry[/caption]

Patrick Lichfield – Getty

The Queen and Philip on the Estate at Balmoral Castle in 1972[/caption]


The idea of a Queen Camilla was unthinkable once.

With the death of Prince Philip, the baton has been passed down the generations.

This is the dawning of the age of King Charles and Queen Camilla.



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