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Date: 2022-07-01 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00020427

The British Royals
Death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The Death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is a good time to reflect on life ... and changes over long lifetimes.


Peter Burgess
Original article:
Will the royals and Harry really hit the reset button?

Princes William and Harry will reunite as they walk behind their grandfather’s coffin, in a gesture that will inevitably recall their somber procession behind their mother’s coffin 24 years ago.

However, whether Prince Philip’s death will lead to a meaningful reconciliation between Harry and his family is a big unknown—especially after the continued reverberations of Harry and Meghan’s Oprah Winfrey interview, which included the allegation that a royal family member had queried the darkness of Harry and Meghan's then-unborn son, Archie.

The brothers will make the show of unity out of respect for their grandfather and grandmother, but sources say the funeral is unlikely to bring the brothers together in any meaningful way.

“Philip was already seriously ill when the interview screened,” a friend of the family said. “He was 99, so the fact that he has died is of course very sad, but hardly surprising. His death may put things into perspective, but I’m not sure it really changes anything.”

The comment reflects a deep sense of betrayal in the royal family at the accusations made in the interview Harry and Meghan gave to Oprah, which also included Meghan claiming she had considered suicide, and that her pain been ignored by royal officials.

Tensions have been exceptionally high since the interview. The queen issued a terse statement in its wake, generally querying the accuracy of the claims made, saying “some recollections may vary.”

CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King subsequently revealed that follow-up conversations between Harry and his brother and father were “not productive.”

A multitude of questions surround Harry’s return to the U.K., and the opportunities for rapprochement it may provide.

His spokesperson told The Daily Beast that Harry “will be following COVID-19 protocols for travel to and from the U.K. as well as during his time in the country,” which one assumes means he will be self-isolating for five days after his arrival, which all but rules out face to face meetings with members of his family in advance of the funeral, even if he touches down Sunday. Will he stay on afterwards, and if so for how long?

Will he be spending his period of quarantine at Windsor Castle or a hotel? Frogmore Cottage has been loaned to his cousin Eugenie and her husband Jack, so it seems unlikely he would be based there.

Earlier this week The Daily Beast reported that Charles feels deeply hurt and wounded by Harry’s remarks.

Harry had told Oprah his father and older brother were “trapped” inside the monarchy.

Asked directly about the state of his relationship with his father, Harry told Oprah: “There’s a lot to work through there, you know? I feel really let down, because he’s been through something similar. He knows what pain feels like… Of course I will always love him, but there’s a lot of hurt that’s happened. I will continue to make it one of my priorities to try and heal that relationship.”

Harry added: “I’ve tried to educate [him] through the process that I have been educated.” Harry also claimed in the interview that the royals “literally cut me off financially” in “the first quarter of 2020.”

Sir John Major, a former British prime minister, expressed the hopes of many when he said on British TV Sunday that he hoped the duke’s death would bring the family together.

Asked about suggestions that funerals can help families to mend broken relationships, Sir John said: “The friction that we are told has arisen is a friction better ended as speedily as possible and the shared emotion, the shared grief at the present time because of the death of their father, of their grandfather, I think is an ideal opportunity. I hope very much that it is possible to mend any rifts that may exist.”

The royal family and Prince Harry’s office both confirmed yesterday that Harry would be traveling to the U.K. for the funeral. A source had previously told The Daily Beast that the family could not imagine a scenario in which Harry would not make the trip. Meghan, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, will not be leaving their Montecito home on medical advice, a spokesperson told The Daily Beast.

Philip’s last message to Charles

The pictures of Prince Charles looking weepy as he left the London hospital where his father was a patient last month have now been explained. Robert Jobson, author of Prince Philip's Century 1921-2021: The Extraordinary Life of the Duke of Edinburgh, writes in the Mail on Sunday: “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.”

Brits turn off TV coverage of Prince Philip’s death

The viewing figures are in, and they don’t make happy reading for British broadcasting networks—or the royal family. When the death of Prince Philip was announced, regular programming was jettisoned, and in its place came blanket coverage of Philip. For several hours on Friday, BBC1 and BBC2 were showing the same thing.

As a result, viewing figures “plummeted,” according to the Independent.

The commercial station ITV’s Friday night audience declined by 60 percent in comparison to one week previously. “BBC One suffered a similar, if less dramatic, loss of average viewers,” the Independent reported.

Popular programs pulled off the air on BBC One included popular soap opera EastEnders, The Graham Norton Show, and the final of cookery competition MasterChef. BBC Two was also given over to blanket Philip-related coverage.

The edgier commercial terrestrial station, Channel 4, got the highest ratings of the night, having mostly stuck to its pre-planned schedule, and not given over the entirety of its time to Philip.

The latest episode of its real-people-watch-TV-show, Gogglebox, drew 4.2m viewers.

The debate over how much time the BBC especially has given over to Philip’s death is raging online, with many people opining it is way too much. The consensus is, as significant a public figure as Prince Philip was, the amount of TV and radio time given over to his passing has been excessive.

BBC Radio 4’s Any Answers show on Saturday featured a number of listeners criticizing the amount of coverage of Prince Philip’s death. One said, “This is North Korean drivel.”

Some observers have wondered if the BBC are over-compensating having been criticized for the tone and amount of its coverage at the time of other significant royal deaths, like the Queen Mother. The corporation is thought to be sensitive to criticism on the part of the right wing press and Government—and so have ensured that their coverage of Philip’s death has been as wall-to-wall as possible.

However, stung by the public’s rejection of its blanket eulogizing, the Independent reported, the BBC has also set up a complaints’ line for all those people who think they’re guilty of overkill. “We’re receiving complaints about too much TV coverage of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” a statement on the page read. “Please enter your email address below to register a complaint about this—we’ll then send you the BBC’s response as soon as it is available.” As of Sunday, the page appeared to be not operational.

Sophie says queen has been “amazing”

Sophie, Countess of Wessex (Prince Edward’s wife) told Sky News correspondent Rhiannon Mills Saturday that “the queen has been amazing” when asked through her car window as she left Windsor Castle how the queen was coping following Philip’s death. Mills said Sophie “had tears in her eyes” as she spoke.

It was a busy day of activity—from the confirmation that a pregnant Meghan Markle would not fly across the Atlantic to attend the funeral service next week while Prince Harry would, to Prince Charles paying tribute to his father. British PM Boris Johnson also said he was giving up his seat to a member of the royal family at the 30-person capacity funeral (per COVID restrictions).

More details of the funeral were also announced. It will take place at 3pm BST next Saturday, April 17, at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, with Prince Philip’s coffin being carried in a purpose-built Land Rover he helped design. There will be a ceremonial procession at Windsor Castle before the funeral itself. The service itself will begin with a nationally-observed minute’s silence. After the service, Prince Philip will be interred in the Royal Vault of St. George’s Chapel.

Water off a duck’s back

Prince Philip was well aware of his status as an outsider in the royal family; the queen mother called him “The Hun” and even dutiful Diana dubbed him “Phil the Greek.” But he had a retort for every occasion. Ian Lloyd, in his book, 100 Chapters in the Life of Prince Philip, recounts an incident when Philip was sailing off the Isle of Wight one year during the sailing regatta, Cowes Week. The skipper of another boat hailed him as ‘Stavros’ and bellowed nautically at him to move out of the way as he had priority. “It’s not Stavros,” shot back Philip, “and it’s my wife’s fucking water, so I’ll do what I fucking well please.”

Unanswered questions

Prince Philip had a wicked sense of humor. Will the “Duke of Hazard” have requested any elements of his trademark mischief-making to leaven the sombre tone at his funeral next Saturday?

Having been excised from the official photographs of his daughter’s wedding, will Prince Andrew be allowed to attend his father’s live-streamed funeral? It’s hard to imagine the queen excluding her favorite son, but Charles, now more than ever acting head of the monarchy can be ruthless, and may insist that Andrew’s presence would be a distraction.

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