With his life drawing to a close, a frail Duke of Edinburgh had just three important things to say when he asked to see his eldest son in hospital a few weeks ago. In an emotional bedside conversation, the Duke advised Prince Charles on caring for the Queen when he was gone, and on how Charles should lead the Royal Family through the years ahead.
And, fully aware he was unlikely to recover after weeks in hospital, the 99-year-old expressed a wish to go finally home, a Palace source revealed. He wanted to die in his own bed, behind the walls of Windsor Castle.
This heart-to-heart marked not just the ending of a long and successful era, a changing of the guard, but a much-changed relationship between father and son, too.
For after a lifetime of well-publicised disagreement, it is understood that the Duke and Charles have found much common ground in recent years, and particularly in the past few months.
Like so many fathers and sons with sharp minds and forthright beliefs, they had frequent clashes – often on questions such as organic and genetically engineered food production.
Affection: Philip with his son in 2016. The Duke and Charles had found much common ground in recent years, and particularly in the past few months
Later, it was claimed that the Prince of Wales and his father fell out over Princess Diana. In fact, it is wholly wrong to suggest that Philip forced Charles to marry her. He did not – and Charles did not consider his father in any way to blame for the marriage or its subsequent failure
In an emotional bedside conversation, the Duke advised Prince Charles on caring for the Queen when he was gone, and on how Charles should lead the Royal Family through the years ahead
‘They’ve both mellowed,’ said a well-placed source. ‘In recent years they were much more accepting of the other’s point of view.
‘They have always loved one another – that was never in question. But there was a deeper respect and it was growing.
‘They shared common ground on the future direction of the monarchy, on religious issues – even on the environment. They both believed in inter-faith dialogue and that talking openly and honestly can only help strengthen communities and understanding.’
A close friend of the Prince added: ‘The idea that these are two men who spent a lifetime at loggerheads, and that Princess Anne was the son he wished he’d had, is out of date and wrong. A much more accurate picture over the last ten years is of two very strong-willed people who came to understand each other’s point of view.
A tearful Charles after seeing his father in hospital in February
‘A father and son who loved each other and enjoyed a relationship of mutual respect and affection.
‘Over the last year of Philip’s life, they were the closest that they’ve ever been.’
Prince Charles is said to have been in constant contact with his father both in person and by telephone over the past few weeks and is believed to have seen him for the last time on Tuesday.
Although resting at home, Prince Philip remained gravely ill after his weeks in hospital and heart operation. Yet there was a time when relations between father and son were so tense that letters were the only means of communication between them. When they did meet in person, disagreement would soon break out.
‘They kissed each other when they met, but within a short time the mood would change. They would fundamentally disagree about big issues,’ said one senior figure in the Royal Household.
The difficulties began early, with alpha-male Philip apparently struggling to understand his more sensitive first-born son. Perhaps worried Charles would be seen as weak, Philip deliberately set about attempting to ‘toughen him up’.
He believed in, and practised, so-called ‘authoritarian parenting’.
In his defence, Philip was concerned by signs that Charles was being over-indulged by those around him, not least the Queen Mother, and felt it was his duty to introduce some ‘tough love’ to counteract the spoiling.
Philip’s choice of school for Charles was similarly no-nonsense. The Duke favoured Gordonstoun in Scotland, which he had attended. He had loved the rugged approach and the emphasis on outdoor life and physical activity.
But the decision seemed to disregard Charles’s very different nature and has since been viewed as a mistake – not least by Charles himself, who variously described Gordonstoun as ‘hell on earth’ and ‘a prison sentence’.
Later, it was claimed that the Prince of Wales and his father fell out over Princess Diana.
Prince Charles today paid tribute to his ‘dear Papa’ as he spoke for the first time following news of his father Prince Philip’s death yesterday morning
In fact, it is wholly wrong to suggest that Philip forced Charles to marry her. He did not – and Charles did not consider his father in any way to blame for the marriage or its subsequent failure.
What is true is that the Duke, along with the Queen, was keen for Charles to marry a suitable bride and, in time, to produce an heir.
Given Charles was approaching 32, Philip decided to write to his eldest son about it, stressing he felt he should either propose marriage to Lady Diana or let her go.
It was a warm, affectionate and encouraging letter – not an abrupt order, as some of his critics have maintained.
However, the Duke was deeply hurt by the way Charles aired his feelings in interviews with biographer Jonathan Dimbleby in 1994.
As well as admitting infidelity following the breakdown of his marriage, Charles spoke of his unhappiness as a child, and accused the Queen of being emotionally and physically distant. His greatest anger, however, was reserved for his father, who was described as ‘harsh’ and ‘hectoring’. All that Philip would say at the time was that he and the Queen had done the best they could as parents.
Father and son disagreed about many issues, but none more prominently than the environment.
In 2008, for example, the Duke told Sir Trevor McDonald he doubted the value of organic farming – despite his son’s passionate commitment – claiming it may not have ‘real benefit’. He told viewers that, in contrast, he supported the genetic modification of crops – something opposed by Charles.
‘I think people are beginning to realise that some of the chickens are coming home to roost and settle heavily in the genetically modified trees,’ noted the Duke.
Yet even on this subject, there has been a significant rapprochement between the two men in recent years. The most significant sign of this came in 2017, when Philip was happy to let Charles take over the Home Farms at Sandringham and Windsor. ‘They didn’t see eye to eye on this for years but it is interesting that the Duke now respects the work the Prince of Wales has done in this field,’ said a current member of the Royal household.
Another informed source added: ‘They came to have very similar views on a whole range of issues from social mobility to religion to the environment.
‘Even when they didn’t agree, on organic farming, for example, Philip didn’t get in the way of Charles’s plan to turn the Sandringham estate organic.
‘The Duke in the end respected that it was now Charles’s turn to run the farms, and to do it how he sees fit.’
The two men grew notably closer after Philip announced his retirement from public duties in August that same year.
In an interview with Alan Titchmarsh for ITV some years ago, the presenter asked Philip how important he considered his role as a father compared to that of a Queen’s consort. ‘Was that a role you were conscious of fulfilling?’ Titchmarsh asked. ‘No, I was a father,’ Philip snapped back. ‘Are you a father? Well, do you think about it?’
No longer burdened by officialdom, the Duke found more time to spend with his four children, as well as be a grandfather and great-grandfather to new generations of Royals.
He left the decision-making to his wife, the Monarch, and his eldest son, the future King. But he still stepped in when he felt it was necessary.
In 2019, following days of mounting pressure over Prince Andrew’s disastrous television interview over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, it was Philip who orchestrated the showdown meeting with Charles at Sandringham.
And it was Philip who elected to speak to Andrew first – to soften the blow that the Duke of York would have no choice but to step back from Royal duties.
The relationship between Charles and Philip was beginning to look very much like a partnership – a fondness evident in the tribute Charles, 72, paid to his ‘dear papa’ yesterday.
Philip was a ‘much loved and appreciated figure’, the Prince said in a special televised tribute and ‘a very special person’.
Perhaps it is only with the benefit of hindsight, reflecting on a long life of service.
Or perhaps father and son were always far closer than they liked to believe.
‘They were both extremely passionate about their beliefs. That didn’t make them enemies – it just meant that they disagreed,’ said a Royal source.
And as for all those formal sounding letters?
‘The Prince often wrote to his father when he was away on overseas tours,’ said a friend. ‘It was a way they shared ideas.’
In an interview with Alan Titchmarsh for ITV some years ago, the presenter asked Philip how important he considered his role as a father compared to that of a Queen’s consort. ‘Was that a role you were conscious of fulfilling?’ Titchmarsh asked.
‘No, I was a father,’ Philip snapped back. ‘Are you a father? Well, do you think about it?’
- Robert Jobson is the author of Prince Philip’s Century 1921-2021: The Extraordinary Life of the Duke of Edinburgh, published on Thursday by AdLib priced £8.99. Buy it here.
From a 1948 boxing event to meeting the Marines in 2017: Prince Philip’s first royal engagement and his last… with 22,217 between them
By Sanchez Manning and Scarlet Howes for the Mail on Sunday
With a debonair doff of his bowler hat and a quick wave to the crowd, Prince Philip ended his 22,219th – and final – solo engagement.
In typically stoic style he had braved torrential rain to congratulate some Royal Marines on taking on a gruelling charity challenge, and joked they should have been ‘locked up’ for their madcap feats.
After 65 years of being the Queen’s consort, since she acceded to the throne in 1952, the Duke of Edinburgh completed his last public event on August 2, 2017, aged 96.
With a debonair doff of his bowler hat and a quick wave to the crowd, Prince Philip ended his 22,219th – and final – solo engagement. In typically stoic style he had braved torrential rain to congratulate some Royal Marines on taking on a gruelling charity challenge, and joked they should have been ‘locked up’ for their madcap feats
During that time, he delivered an astonishing 5,496 speeches and took part in 637 solo overseas visits to 143 countries
Prince Philip’s first public engagement was the boxing finals of the Federation of London Boys Clubs at the Royal Albert Hall on March 2, 1948, shortly after becoming the organisation’s patron
During that time, he delivered an astonishing 5,496 speeches and took part in 637 solo overseas visits to 143 countries. It was his breathtaking work ethic which led one of his biographers Tim Heald to quip: ‘If there wasn’t a Duke of Edinburgh now, we should have to think seriously about inventing one.’
Prince Philip’s first public engagement was the boxing finals of the Federation of London Boys Clubs at the Royal Albert Hall on March 2, 1948, shortly after becoming the organisation’s patron.
As a sporting enthusiast, the Duke of Edinburgh had a prime ringside seat for the action and was said in a news bulletin from the time to have ‘watched all the battles with keen enjoyment’.
It was the start of a colourful public service career, where his close-to-the-bone remarks often grabbed the headlines.
On one occasion in 1969, while attending a Royal Variety performance, he asked Tom Jones: ‘What do you gargle with, pebbles?’
And during a visit to a school in Salford in 2001, when 13-year-old Andrew Adams told Prince Philip he wanted to go into space, the plain-talking Royal quipped: ‘You’re too fat to be an astronaut.’
He raised a laugh during the unveiling of a plaque at Lord’s cricket ground in May 2017 to mark the opening of a new stand when he joked: ‘You’re about to see the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler.’
But there was also a serious side to the Duke’s work.
The Marines later gave three cheers in the Duke’s honour – to which his ever-understated response was to raise his black bowler hat and give it a wave
With his naval background one of his many achievements was helping save the Cutty Sark clipper, which was due to be scrapped after the Second World War.
So it was a particularly poignant public engagement when he accompanied the Queen to open the vessel to the public at its home in Greenwich, South London, in 1957.
On his last engagement he wore his Royal Marines tie and raincoat to meet troops who had run 1,664 miles over 100 days.
The Marines later gave three cheers in the Duke’s honour – to which his ever-understated response was to raise his black bowler hat and give it a wave.
Photographer Yui Mok recalled: ‘That was his character – no fuss, no airs and graces.’
By Daphne Tolis and Mark Hookham for the Mail on Sunday
Prince Philip’s birth certificate has been unearthed by The Mail on Sunday – after lying buried for almost a century in an archive close to the Greek villa where he was born.
The document was written by hand in Katharevousa Greek, a purist version of modern Greek, by a priest named Spiriodon Tryfonas on the island of Corfu.
It has been gathering dust for decades in a municipal archive housed in an old British Army barracks that sits within the imposing Venetian fortress overlooking Corfu’s Old Town.
But yesterday a member of staff agreed to give The Mail on Sunday access to the leather-bound book in which the Prince’s birth was recorded.
Prince Philip’s birth certificate has been unearthed by The Mail on Sunday – after lying buried for almost a century in an archive close to the Greek villa where he was born. (Above, Princess Alice with her infant son, Philip)
The document (above) was written by hand in Katharevousa Greek, a purist version of modern Greek, by a priest named Spiriodon Tryfonas on the island of Corfu. It has been gathering dust for decades in a municipal archive housed in an old British Army barracks that sits within the imposing Venetian fortress overlooking Corfu’s Old Town
It details how Prince Andrew of Greece, Philip’s father, presented a baby boy to the priest, which he said had been born at 10am on May 28, 1921.
Philip was actually born on June 10, 1921 but experts say his birth was registered using the old Julian calendar, which was still being used in Greece in the early 20th Century.
The document declares that the baby’s mother was ‘Her Royal Princess Aliki’ (Alice), whose father Louis, Prince of Battenberg was ‘born in Windsor Castle’.
It adds that during his baptism into the Greek Orthodox Church, the baby was formally given the name ‘Philippos’ by two sets of godparents – Queen Mother Olga of Greece, who was represented at the ceremony by Princess Olga, and the Municipality of Corfu, which was represented by two local city officials.
Last night, the granddaughter of Stylianos Maniarizis, the then president of Corfu’s Municipal Council and one of the officials who witnessed Philip’s baptism at the stunning Church of St George, spoke of her pride at the family’s involvement in the early life of such an historic figure.
Pharmacist Vasiliki Maniarizi, 70, said: ‘It was a great honour that my grandfather was one of the two godfathers to Prince Philip.
‘Although I never met him, my father would recount the story of the baptism many times. I am proud of my grandfather.’
It details how Prince Andrew of Greece (left), Philip’s father, presented a baby boy to the priest, which he said had been born at 10am on May 28, 1921. Philip was actually born on June 10, 1921 but experts say his birth was registered using the old Julian calendar, which was still being used in Greece in the early 20th Century. The document declares that the baby’s mother was ‘Her Royal Princess Aliki’ (Alice, right), whose father Louis, Prince of Battenberg was ‘born in Windsor Castle’
Philip (above) was reportedly born on a kitchen table at the palace, which was used by the Greek royal family as a summer residence. Although he was a Prince of Greece, Philip had no Greek blood. His complex background was in fact Danish, German, Russian and British
The document offers an extraordinary insight into the tumultuous first 18 months of Prince Philip’s life. The Queen’s future husband and consort was born at Mon Repos, a neo-classical villa nestled in woodland overlooking the Ionian Sea.
He was reportedly born on a kitchen table at the palace, which was used by the Greek royal family as a summer residence. Although he was a Prince of Greece, Philip had no Greek blood. His complex background was in fact Danish, German, Russian and British.
His family was forced to flee Corfu in December 1922 after Philip’s father, a lieutenant-general in the Greek army, was arrested and charged with high treason in the aftermath of defeat by the Turks during the Greco-Turkish War.
Evacuated on a British warship, HMS Calypso, the newborn prince was carried to safety in a cot crafted from an unused fruit box.
With its peeling paint and weathered facade, the grandeur of Mon Repos has faded during the past century, although its elegant ground-floor rooms, which now house a museum, give a hint of its royal past.
The only visible sign of its links to Philip is a blue and red plaque, written in Greek and English, next to the entrance gates.
On Friday, a bouquet of six white roses was left by the gate, with a card reading ‘Rest in peace, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh’.
Lynn and Vivian Church, who are among 6,000 Britons who live in Corfu, visited to lay their own flowers yesterday. Mrs Church said: ‘We just came to pay our respects.’
Mr Church added: ‘He was probably more important than any Prime Minister because of the length of his service. We feel sorry for the Queen – he was her rock through her whole life.’
Meropi Ydraiou, mayor of central Corfu and the Diapontia Islands said: ‘On behalf of all Corfiat people I express my sincere condolences.’
The royal record (translated)…
In Corfu, on October 24 of the year 1921, I, the undersigned vicar of the Church of Our Christ the Saviour, which is located in the grounds of the Royal Estate Mon Repos, declare that His Royal Highness Prince Andreas (Andrew) of Greece, aged 39, son of our late King George I, born in Athens and residing in Corfu, appeared before me.
He presented to me a newborn male infant, and stated that he was born on Friday May 28 1921 at 10am in his residence to Her Royal Princess Aliki (Alice), aged 36, daughter of Louis, Prince of Battenberg, born in Windsor Castle.
During his baptism the newborn was given the name Philippos (Philip) by his godparents, namely Her Royal Majesty Queen Mother Olga, represented by Her Highness Princess Olga, daughter of His Royal Highness Prince Nikolaos of Greece, and the Municipality of the Corfiates, represented unanimously by Mayor Mr Alexandros S. Kokotos, and Mr Stylianos I. Maniarizis, president of the Municipal Council.
The hereby act of registration was compiled in presence of the witness, Theodoros Chrysovitsianos, son of Nikolaos, aged 45, doctor, born in Corfu, and Konstantinos Alamanos, son of Pericles, aged 39, lawyer, born in Corfu, and both municipal councils.
The act of registration is legally signed by me, the appeared, and the witnesses.
By Mark Hookham and Brendan Carlin for the Mail on Sunday
Prince Philip was upset by a ‘shockingly malicious’ episode of The Crown in which his father angrily blamed him for his sister’s death in a plane crash, according to two Royal biographers.
The respected authors said Philip had been hurt by the manner in which the 1937 death of Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark had been depicted in the drama – and renewed calls for Netflix to apologise and add a disclaimer.
Slurs during the first four series include the suggestions that the Prince was a serial philanderer who had an affair with a ballerina, was involved in the Profumo sex scandal and delivered a menacing threat to Princess Diana.
Prince Philip was reportedly upset by the way that the death of his sister Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark was depicted in the Netflix drama, The Crown
Producers of The Crown said on Friday they were ‘deeply saddened’ by his death, while actors Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies – who both played Philip over the four series – paid their own tributes. But the drama’s creator, Peter Morgan, and Netflix fell silent this weekend when asked if they would apologise for the portrayal of Philip.
Sally Bedell Smith, who published a bestselling biography of the Queen, said the ‘most egregious’ falsehood involved a scene in the second series during which Philip’s father, Prince Andrew, blames his son for Cecilie’s death.
According to the show, Philip was meant to visit her in Germany but was forbidden from going after getting into trouble at Gordonstoun School in Scotland. Cecilie decided instead to fly to England, but her plane hit a factory chimney in Belgium and crashed, killing her, her husband, their two sons and unborn baby boy, and her mother-in-law.
Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark (pictured) died in an air crash in 1937
At Cecilie’s funeral in Germany, Prince Andrew is shown confronting Philip, saying: ‘You are the reason we are all here, burying my favourite child.’
Ms Bedell Smith, 72, said Philip ‘had nothing to do with his sister’s death’ and there was no rift with his father after the tragedy. ‘Cecilie did die in an air crash but that’s the only thing that was true,’ she added. ‘Everything else was invented in a shockingly malicious way.’
The author has been told by Royal sources that Philip was made aware of the hurtful storyline, although both he and the Queen refused to watch the drama. ‘The whole thing about Cecilie, which he did learn about, was terribly upsetting to him,’ she said. ‘They [Netflix] should emphatically apologise and I think a disclaimer is necessary more than ever. Now that he is gone, what they have done to his reputation is in even sharper relief.’
Hugo Vickers, a Royal biographer who has dissected The Crown’s falsehoods, described the depiction of Cecilie’s death as ‘disgraceful’, adding that Philip had been ‘very upset’ about it.
‘How disgraceful it was [of The Crown] to turn Prince Philip into a caricature person – never doing any work in the series. The depiction was cruel and deeply unfair. The least Netflix could do was to alert viewers with a disclaimer.’
Chris Parry, a retired Royal Navy commander who studied the 1937 plane crash as part of a PhD, said its depiction in The Crown was ‘outrageous’, adding: ‘It was rubbish. This man had integrity. This generation has forgotten just what people stood for in his generation.’
Another falsehood in The Crown is an implied affair between Philip and ballerina Galina Ulanova. While Ms Ulanova was a real dancer, performing acclaimed lead roles in Swan Lake and Romeo And Juliet, there is no evidence of an affair with the Duke.
‘It was complete fantasy,’ said Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine. ‘He never even met the ballet dancer.’
In the final episode of The Crown’s latest series, Philip is shown threatening Diana at Sandringham in 1990.
Diana, played by Emma Corrin, is seen telling her father-in-law that her marriage to Prince Charles is a ‘dark, loveless cave’ and she wants to ‘break away’.
Philip menacingly says ‘I can’t see it ending well for you’, prompting Diana to reply: ‘I hope that isn’t a threat, Sir.’
In the final episode of The Crown’s latest series, Philip (portrayed by Tobias Menzies) is shown threatening Diana (portrayed by Emma Corrin) at Sandringham in 1990
Former Culture Secretary Karen Bradley urged Netflix to correct its error of not attaching a disclaimer stating that the drama is a work of fiction, not fact.
‘While Prince Philip was still alive, Netflix badly misrepresented the behaviour and conduct of this noble and dignified man,’ she said.
‘Now that he has died, the least they can do is to make amends by acknowledging that the picture of the Duke of Edinburgh in The Crown was unjust and, in many respects, simply fictional.
‘Netflix should also add a health warning to previous and future episodes so that viewers know that what they are watching is not an accurate and faithful account of the Royal Family.’
Epitomising a life of service, the Duke of Edinburgh dutifully served his country for more than 70 years as the Queen’s consort on royal tours, visits and functions.
As a senior royal his every movement was followed by a photographer’s lens which have captured thousands of images of His Royal Highness, either meeting people, sharing a joke with his family or taking in the occasion.
His death on Friday aged 99, just two months and a few days shy of his 100th birthday plunged the nation into mourning ahead of his funeral next weekend in Windsor.
Here, we look back at some of the most memorable moments from a life of duty.
The Duke of Edinburgh looks dashing in a tuxedo as he shares a laugh at a Yacht Club reception at Cowes Regatta in August, 1982
Intrepid pilot Philip climbs into the cockpit of a 600mph Gloster Meteor jet fighter aircraft in 1954
Talking tactics with the Queen at a polo match at Windsor Park in 1956
The Duke makes his frustrations clear as he tries to take young Prince Charles for a thrilling speedboat ride at Cowes in 1957 – only for the boat to break down
Strapping Philip, aged 43, is caught in his blue swimming trunks in this holiday snap in the Mediterranean in 1964. His expression suggests he wasn’t too happy about it
The teenage Prince Philip of Greece in costume for a production of Macbeth at his Scottish school Gordonstoun
Philip, above centre, aged about seven in 1928, practising archery with friends at the MacJannet American School at St Cloud, France. Left: Toddler Philip in 1922
The then Prince Philip of Greece in 1922 as part of a handout from the Duke of Edinburgh’s private selection in the Royal Collection
The Duke of Edinburgh is pictured clearing the high jump bar with apparent ease during a school athletics championship
Looking determined as he sets off on a fishing trip during a beach holiday in Normandy
The Duke of Edinburgh looking handsome in shorts in a rare photo from his schooldays at Gordonstoun
August 1951 and Philip is a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy, on the Mediterranean Fleet’s summer cruise
Here the athletic young officer leaps off his waterskis as he careers on to a beach at Marmaris in Turkey
Philip, front, practising for a regatta off Marmaris with other officers from his ship, HMS Magpie
The kilted Duke at Balmoral, precariously racing down a steep bank on one of his children’s toys…
… and in a fit of giggles as he hurtles down a water slide installed on the Royal Yacht Britannia
Having a ball with in 1959 with Hollywood royalty, including Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner, left
Welcome to the family! Philip jokes with Pippa Middleton after her sister married Prince William
Noticing something missing from this girl’s Yeoman’s costume at Pinewood Film Studios in 1960
It’s the Duke IN Edinburgh in 1982, mingling with an adoring crowd of young women – and clearly enjoying the company immensely – at a garden party at Holyroodhouse, where a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards ceremony was being held
Hollywood star Rhonda Fleming sees the funny side of Philip in 1951
Back in Scotland, in 2017, the Duke is still making them laugh as he chats to members of the Glasgow Wrens Association at another Holyroodhouse garden party
The Duke and the Queen marvel at the spectacular field of poppies installed at the Tower of London in 2014 to mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War, as a Beefeater stands guard
Philip gazes at the young Elizabeth in this delightful official photograph taken in 1947 at Buckingham Palace to mark the couple’s engagement
The Queen has a fit of the giggles as she walks past her husband, in full Guards uniform, at an event in Buckingham Palace in 2005
Always up for a lark, the Duke takes part in a novel bicycle polo display at Windsor Park in 1964 – and forces a woman hoping for a quick snap with her camera to take evasive action as he sends a stray pass her way with his mallet
Having a swinging time with Charles and Anne at Balmoral in 1955
Supporting the Queen on the mammoth six-week Canada tour of 1959