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William and Harry pay tribute to Philip’s service, warmth and wit

Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent
·6-min read

The Duke of Edinburgh was described as the Queen’s “rock” and praised as “master of the barbecue, legend of banter” in poignant tributes from his grandsons.

The Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex recalled their grandfather as an individual “authentically himself” filled with warmth and wit and devoted to the monarch, as they joined the nation in honouring his memory.

William said Philip was an “extraordinary man” and pledged to uphold his wishes and continue, along with wife Kate, to support the Queen and “get on with the job”.

He also highlighted the special bond between the duke and Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, who would have “special memories” of being picked up in a horse-drawn carriage by their “great-grandpa”.

William spoke candidly about Philip’s relationship with Kate and expressed his gratitude for the “kindness he showed her”.

Harry said: “He has been a rock for Her Majesty The Queen with unparalleled devotion, by her side for 73 years of marriage, and while I could go on, I know that right now he would say to all of us, beer in hand, ‘Oh do get on with it'”.

In a day of eulogies for the duke, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Philip “touched the lives of millions” as politicians from across the political spectrum rose to their feet in the Parliaments of London, Edinburgh and Cardiff to pay their respects.

Over the weekend, Philip’s four children spoke movingly about the loss of their father and how the Queen was being very “stoic” after losing her husband of 73 years who died peacefully on Friday.

William said about Philip: “My grandfather’s century of life was defined by service – to his country and Commonwealth, to his wife and Queen, and to our family.

“I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life – both through good times and the hardest days.”

Duke of Edinburgh death
Philip with William, Earl Spencer, Harry and Charles following the coffin of Diana (Adam Butler/PA)

Philip and the Queen provided a safe haven for William and Harry in the days following the death of their mother Diana, Princess of Wales, as they grieved at their grandmother’s royal residence, Balmoral in Scotland, in 1997.

It is said Philip later suggested William and Harry walk behind their mother’s coffin with him and other senior royals as the funeral cortege made its way through the streets of London.

William added: “I will always be grateful that my wife had so many years to get to know my grandfather and for the kindness he showed her.

“I will never take for granted the special memories my children will always have of their great-grandpa coming to collect them in his carriage and seeing for themselves his infectious sense of adventure as well as his mischievous sense of humour.”

Kensington Palace tweeted William’s statement with a touching photograph taken in 2015 of a two-year-old George with his great-grandfather Philip.

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George, a future king, is pictured sitting by Philip’s side on the box seat of a carriage, holding a book, as the duke holds the reins and a whip.

William concluded: “My grandfather was an extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation. Catherine and I will continue to do what he would have wanted and will support the Queen in the years ahead. I will miss my Grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job.”

Harry and William are expected to join their father the Prince of Wales and other senior royals in walking behind their grandfather’s coffin – carried by a specially modified Land Rover – as the funeral procession makes its way through Windsor Castle.

Philip’s funeral might give the royal brothers the time and space to begin healing their rift which Harry spoke about during his Oprah Winfrey interview, and also to repair his relationship with father Charles.

Harry said in his tribute: “My grandfather was a man of service, honour and great humour. He was authentically himself, with a seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm – and also because you never knew what he might say next.”

DEATH Philip
(PA Graphics)

Philip was famed for his quips, gaffes and outspoken comments that regularly made newspaper headlines during the decades he carried out his royal duties.

He once declared “British women can’t cook”, described plans for the Duke and Duchess of York’s house at Sunninghill Park as looking “like a tart’s bedroom”, and asked Sir Tom Jones after the 1969 Royal
Variety Performance: “What do you gargle with – pebbles?”

Harry added: “He will be remembered as the longest reigning consort to the monarch, a decorated serviceman, a prince and a duke. But to me, like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right till the end.”

He ended by thanking his “Grandpa” for “your service, your dedication to Granny, and for always being yourself”, and said he and his family – wife Meghan, son Archie and their unborn daughter – would always hold a “special place for you in our hearts”.

Philip was Captain General of the Royal Marines for 64 years before retiring in 2017 and Harry briefly succeeded him before stepping down as a working royal last year and moving with Meghan to America.

Floral tributes at the gates of Sandringham House in Norfolk
Floral tributes at the gates of Sandringham House in Norfolk (Joe Giddens/PA)

As a parting message Harry quoted the motto of the Royal Marines: “Per Mare, Per Terram” – Latin for “By Sea, By Land”.

Harry is quarantining ahead of Saturday’s funeral at his former home of Frogmore Cottage in the grounds of Windsor Castle, after arriving in the UK over the weekend without his pregnant wife who was advised not to travel.

Mr Johnson told the Commons: “It is fitting that on Saturday his Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh will be conveyed to his final resting place in a Land Rover which Prince Philip designed himself, with a long wheel base and capacious rear cabin.

“Because that vehicle’s unique and idiosyncratic silhouette reminds the world that he was above all a practical man, who could take something very traditional – whether a machine or, indeed, a great national institution – and find a way by his own ingenuity to improve it, to adapt it for the 20th and 21st century.”