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Philip was a Hairy Bikers fan who wouldn’t let any other Royal touch his barbecue, his family says


The Duke of Sussex has spoken for the first time about how the Duke of Edinburgh gave him the space to talk about serving in Afghanistan.

Harry was twice deployed to Helmand province during the UK’s military operations, and in a BBC tribute programme to Philip he describes how his grandfather would ‘never probe’ but listen.

In an unusual show of unity, senior members of the Royal Family have come together to share memories that reveal Prince Philip’s domestic side – including his keen interest in the Hairy Bikers cookery shows, his playful affection for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and how he turned barbecuing into an art form. 

During Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers, Harry says: ‘Going off to Afghanistan he was very matter of fact and just said, ‘Make sure you come back alive’… then when I came back, there wasn’t a deep level of discussion, more a case of, ‘Well you made it. How was it?’ That’s how he was.

‘He was very much a listener, he sort of set the scene for you to be able to share as much as you wanted to share but he would never probe.’ 

The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Princess Anne preparing a barbecue on the Estate at Balmoral Castle, Scotland during the Royal Family’s annual summer holiday, 22nd August 1972

'Cooking is something that I love talking to him about,' reveals the Countess of Wessex, in an interview recorded before the Duke's death

‘Cooking is something that I love talking to him about,’ reveals the Countess of Wessex, in an interview recorded before the Duke’s death

As the Duke of Cambridge affectionately puts it: ‘I can safely say there’s never been a case of food poisoning in the family that’s attributed to the Duke of Edinburgh.’

The documentary, originally conceived to mark Philip’s 100th birthday in June, has been rebranded as a tribute programme, with contributions from 14 members of the Royal Family, including Prince Harry and the beleaguered Prince Andrew.

The Queen was not interviewed, but it is understood she has given her blessing, and granted producers access to her private film collection. Among the never-before-seen clips is footage of the Duke enjoying himself at Balmoral, on a rowing boat with Prince Edward, and racing around the garden with his children. He also appears excitedly riding a child’s tricycle while the Queen runs behind.

While the Duke was known for his sense of fun and humour, Harry tells the documentary that he was also a ‘great listener’.

When Harry joined the Household Cavalry on the front line against the Taliban in Afghanistan, forcing him to miss the traditional Sandringham Christmas, Philip was very pragmatic about the danger. 

Harry’s moving tribute to his grandfather in the film, Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers, is a sign of his continuing affection for his family, despite wider accusations of racism and neglect within the institution that he and his wife Meghan have made in bombshell interviews since emigrating to California.

The military, however, will always be the thread which binds senior Royals together. The Duke served in the Navy and had a number of honorary military appointments, inherited by Harry until he stepped down from Royal duties.

The Prince of Wales reminisces in the film about the fact that his father was primarily a naval man.

‘Well, he took very seriously the fact that he was involved in the three Armed Forces,’ he said, ‘and obviously the Navy was his main service. But he took an inordinate interest in everything to do with the other two.

‘He read up an awful lot and thought about it and so he certainly put a lot of the generals and others through their paces, if you know what I mean. He’d always thought of a better way of doing it.’

It was perhaps Prince Harry who captured his grandfather's character best when he recalled him as 'the master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right till the end'

It was perhaps Prince Harry who captured his grandfather’s character best when he recalled him as ‘the master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right till the end’

Prince William, who trained as an Army officer but has undertaken attachments with the RAF and Royal Navy, added: ‘He’s always set a very good example about how we have to look after the welfare of the military and represent them, and be there for them, and understand the trials and tribulations that they all go through.’

The Royal Family also remembered the Duke’s love of cooking.

‘Cooking is something that I love talking to him about,’ reveals the Countess of Wessex, in an interview recorded before the Duke’s death

‘And he loves watching cookery programmes. Hairy Bikers I think is one of his favourites.’

‘He adored barbecuing and he turned that into an interesting art form,’ said Prince Charles. ‘And if I ever tried to do it, he… I could never get the fire to light or something ghastly so [he’d say] ‘Go away.’ ‘

‘Every barbecue I’ve ever been on, the Duke of Edinburgh has been there cooking,’ added William. ‘We go on barbecues and there’s no chef, there’s not anyone else… He’s definitely a dab hand at the barbecue.’

The programme also features scenes shot inside Buckingham Palace, meeting the Duke’s long-serving staff and capturing his study, private office and library just as they were during his remarkable seven decades of public service.

Oxford Films, the production company behind the programme, previously made Our Queen At 90, for ITV in 2016.

Prince William, who trained as an Army officer but has undertaken attachments with the RAF and Royal Navy, added: 'He's always set a very good example about how we have to look after the welfare of the military'

Prince William, who trained as an Army officer but has undertaken attachments with the RAF and Royal Navy, added: ‘He’s always set a very good example about how we have to look after the welfare of the military’

Others appearing in the new film include Princess Anne and her husband, Sir Timothy Laurence, Prince Edward, the Duchess of Cornwall, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall.

But the partners of the Duke’s grandchildren, including the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex, are not involved. Previous clips released by the BBC ahead of the broadcast this week make it clear that his loss is still felt keenly.

Zara, daughter of the Princess Royal, says, poignantly: ‘You never really prepare yourself for losing him because he was always there.’

The Duke of Cambridge adds: ‘He’s always been a huge presence behind everything we have done.’

But it is his eldest son, the Prince of Wales, who sums it up most succinctly: ‘We were lucky to have him for nearly 100 years.’

  • Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers is on BBC1 at 9pm on Wednesday.



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