Saturday, 5 Dec 2020

Prince Philip heartbreak: Duke’s anguished worries for Prince William – ‘Our only concern’

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Prince Philip interrupted a conference call focused on Princess Diana’s funeral arrangements to express his stark concern for the second-in-line to the throne, Prince William, according to the book of royal author Robert Lacey. The then-teenager was believed to have “run away” from Balmoral Castle, where he, his brother Harry, their father Prince Charles and their grandparents were when Princess Diana died in a car crash in 1997. 

News of William’s brief flight was broke to Downing Street and the Metropolitan Police by an anguished Prince Philip, Mr Lacey wrote in his book Battle of Brothers.

Speaking about the now-Duke of Cambridge’s first reaction to the untimely death of the Princess of Wales, Mr Lacey wrote: “William seemed to be taking it bravely – then apparently he cracked.

“‘Our worry at the moment is William’, Prince Philip cut in suddenly, interrupting one of the morning funeral arrangement conference calls to London that involved the palace, Downing Street, and the Metropolitan Police.

“‘He’s run away up the hill and we can’t find him. 

“‘That’s the only thing we are concerned with at the moment’.”

Prince Philip had played a key role in trying to distract his grandsons in the aftermath of the death of Diana.

According to Mr Lacey, the Duke of Edinburgh “kept the boys busy and made them feel useful” by having them as helpers in the kitchen as he was preparing supper every evening.

Mr Lacey added the Duke of Edinburgh was particularly close to William at the time.

He wrote: “Philip had been no fan of Diana, but he was immensely fond of her elder son.

“He had taught William to shoot, spending hours with him out on the moors and displaying in these days a warm and pastoral care for both his grandsons”.

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Prince Philip was nevertheless very attached to Prince Harry as well, as he demonstrated when he spoke about both his grandsons in affectionate and worried terms during another occasion amid the preparations of the state funeral of the Princess of Wales.

Citing Anji Hunter, one of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s advisor who was taking part in these phone calls, Mr Lacey wrote: “I can remember, and it sends a tingle up my back thinking about it.

“We were talking and then from the speaker-phone on the table came Prince Philip’s voice – and it was anguished. 

“‘These are the boys here. We are talking about these boys – they have lost their mum’.

“It brought it all home to us.” 

Prince Philip, the Queen and their grandchildren eventually travelled down to London the day before the funeral of Diana took place. 

The royals were surprised by a sea of tributes left outside Buckingham Palace as well as Kensington Palace by heartbroken royal fans.

The teenagers, despite their personal grief, stopped for a few moments to check the cards and flowers left in honour of their mother.

20 years after the death of Diana, the brothers surprised royal watchers and recreated together with Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, the same heartbreaking walkabout outside of Kensington Palace to take a look at the tributes royal fans leave every year at the gates.      

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