Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Prince Philip started ‘taunting’ Charles as he mourned Lord Mountbatten’s tragic death

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The Duke of Edinburgh has a turbulent relationship with the Prince of Wales. Although it is believed to have mellowed in recent years, the two royals have always had completely different approaches to their lifelong commitments to the crown. Philip is famously stoic while Charles is renowned for his emotion.

Consequently, Charles often sought counsel from Philip’s uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, during his formative years.

Lord Mountbatten was then tragically assassinated by the IRA in 1979 after a bomb exploded in Ireland, leaving the Royal Family completely devastated.

Royal fans will be expecting to see the dramatised re-telling of the devastating event in Netflix’s latest series of The Crown, which is to be released later this month.

Biographer Ingrid Seward claimed in her recent book, ‘Prince Philip Revealed’, that Charles was “so upset he could hardly speak, let alone eat” when he and his father were about to set off to Mountbatten’s former home in the Broadlands to receive his body.

However, Philip did not respond to his son with compassion.

Ms Seward explained: “Irritated by his son’s less than manly attitude, Philip was in no mood for lingering and was furious when shortly before lunch was about to be served, Charles disappeared to a stretch of the River Test, where he used to fish with his great-uncle.”

Philip then sent his Lord Mountbatten’s private secretary, John Barrett, to call Charles back to the dinner table but the aide “didn’t have the nerve to disturb him”.

Ms Seward continued: “When Charles eventually reappeared and sat down, Prince Philip started taunting his son, so much so Prince Charles got up and left the room.”

Ms Seward claimed Philip was “covering his own distress by being curt and offhand” with Charles.

She added that he was refusing to show any emotion — unlike his son — and instead, dealing with it by trying to “stiffen his [Charles’] backbone”.

Lord Mountbatten is thought to have created a lasting impact on the Royal Family.

For instance, Charles controversially visited the site of Lord Mountbatten’s death in 2015 and gave an emotional speech more than three decades after his passing.

He said: “I could not imagine how we would come to terms with the anguish of such a deep loss since, for me, Lord Mountbatten represented the grandfather I never had.”

King George VI died in 1952, when Charles was just three years old, while Philip’s father — Prince Andrea of Greece — died in 1944.

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Lord Mountbatten is thought to have influenced the Prince of Wales in many areas of his life — but he prioritised his lessons to Charles about whom he should take to be his royal wife.

He advised the future monarch to first “sow some wild oats” before wedding a blue-blooded virgin who was loyal and completely dedicated to both him and the crown.

Lord Mountbatten tried to play matchmaker, too, and attempted to pair Charles up with his granddaughter Amanda Knatchbull but she did not fancy becoming a royal.

It was Lady Diana Spencer’s compassion over Charles’ grief for his late great-uncle which is said to have helped the couple bond.

Diana also seemed to fit the bill in terms of the perfect royal wife, according to the terms Lord Mountbatten had laid out for Charles — but, as his main adviser had died before the Prince of Wales started dating her in 1980, he arguably proposed before he was ready.

Even though he died before Prince William was born, the Duke of Cambridge named his youngest child Prince Louis in tribute to his late relative, in 2018, showing how his legacy lives on in the royal fold.

‘Prince Philip Revealed: A Man Of His Century’ by Ingrid Seward was published in 2020 by Simon and Schuster and is available here.

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